We all do it. Even those of us who try to live conscious, positive lives. It is such a part of our society that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it until someone calls us on it.
Last week I was at my trapeze lesson, and after climbing the ladder I was atop the platform awaiting help to attach the harness cables. I was chatting with one of my instructors, telling her about how my recent lessons had been exercises in frustration. After making initial progress learning the trapeze quite quickly, I’d seemed to have hit a wall. She encouraged me to think positively, focus on what I was doing correctly, and realize that trapeze is a subtle yet complicated art and sport to master.
When I got down to the ground after fairly successfully completing my trick, I heard two of my classmates talking. They, too, were discussing the learning curve of trapeze– which is surprisingly shallow at first–and how it’s only after your confidence is built up that you start to learn the swing and other ‘back end’ tricks that bring your progress to a screetching halt. We were sharing stories of frustration, reveling in our common misery. As we talked, we became more and more critical ourselves and the skills we were practicing.
Another instructor heard our whining and asked why we were being so self-critical. After all, hadn’t we all just begun learning trapeze a few months ago? Couldn’t we see how much we had learned? Why weren’t we embracing the power and creativity and freedom and just plain fun that trapeze is? Certainly we should strive to improve our skills, but how was the negative self-talk helping anything?
It wasn’t. And I’m now working hard to banish it. Fun is far more important than perfection.