I want to clear something up about a statement I made a couple of posts ago. I talked about how as a dancer I'm not "saving lives." I meant this simply as a tongue and cheek phrase that I have used my whole career in order to keep from being too hard on myself. It refers to the literal saving of lives-the doctor at the operating table holding a heart in his hand. (This, I do not do, and everyone is better off for it.) I believe that the performing arts play an extremely vital role in society, and in a world that is consistently cutting funding for the arts and turning it's nose up at people who choose this lifestyle, I will always see the value in what I do.
Now, I would like to reflect a bit on a topic that has recently been pushed to the forefront of my mind. As an artist, I block myself many times from moving forwards. Most of the time it's out of fear of failure, but sometimes I believe it comes from quiet agreements that I've made subconsciously that keep me from succeeding. Let me explain. Who hasn't had someone at some point discourage them from a dream or a goal? Often, people can brush these negative experiences aside, but do they ever really go away?
As a teacher, I have to be careful how I correct and criticize my students because each student may hear what I have to say a different way. I would never want to cripple anyone's chances at success with my words, and yet I'm sure I have been guilty of damaging people in my life at some point in this way. The worst thing a teacher could say to a student would be "Honey, you can't dance." After all, won't the "real world" tell the artist if this is actually true?!? Discouragement is a waste of time and breath.
When we hear a statement as bold as this-or even more subtly spoken, we often make "agreements" with ourselves that cause us believe what was said. These agreements can accrue over time without our even knowing it. As an artist, I am only now becoming aware of some of the agreements that I have made. Overall, I have had instructors who were encouraging to me along the way. But there have been times when I have held onto some hurtful things that were said to me and some of the negative aspects that can come in such a high-stress field such as dance. From there have my mental blocks been created.
I am so happy to be becoming aware of these things because I feel that I can address the issues and "confront my demons" if you will. If I learn to push beyond them and rise above, then and only then I believe, can true success be allowed to be born.
I want to add that knowing ones limitations and having a realistic view of self aren't the same as making the type if crippling agreement I am speaking of. For example, no matter what, I will probably never be as physically flexible or as buff as I would like to be, but those aren't the kind of road blocks that could lead to my mental demise! They are simply challenges to rise above.
In closing, I would like to invite everyone to think about how our words can affect those around us. As a ballet instructor, I would especially like to remind other teachers of this fact. We have such an opportunity to push people towards their goals and their futures, and we can do it in a positive way. I hope that as I continue to learn how to break the critical agreements I have made with myself over the years, that I can learn to be more encouraging and helpful to my fellow artists, my students and anyone else I may come in contact with.