We are all juggling two realities -- the one actually happening and the one happening inside your head. Which one is real? Whichever one you are feeding.
Let me give you an example from my own life. This is a scenario I would guess many dancers (unfortunately) can relate to...and many normals too.
In my head, I look like a monster. Fat. Ugly. A terrible dancer. An outcast. And there are times when that reality wins out. I feel ashamed to go on stage. Fear being a disappointment. Unworthy of being seen. I feed those mental demons so much that my actual reality starts to reflect their whispers. I lose my confidence. Retreat under the shadows. Second guess myself. Focus on the wrong things. Inevitably I start making mistakes and the wrong choices in life...because my subconscious tells me to do so. When I give into these mental demons and their version of reality, of course I'm going to start acting in a way that makes that reality come true.
When I listen to those mental demons and allow them to manipulate reality, I don't get to live out the one I actually want to be living. The one happening right now in front of my face. The one not distorted by my mental demons' critical eye.
This is where I have to remind myself why I started dancing in the first place - to feel alive & share that joy with others. Will I ever be the best dancer in the world. No. But I get a lot of joy out of it when I allow it...when I'm not picking apart my flaws & feeding the wrong reality. And that joy and expression is something that can have a positive impact on the world.
When you start to question your worth, ask if you're getting too far away from actual reality and letting your demons take the wheel. I'm not saying you should be delusional on the other end of the spectrum and tell yourself that you're perfect, but being overly critical is not going to bring you success and certainly not joy. The world needs light and love now more than ever. It would be a terrible shame if you dulled your shine just because your demons convinced you that you're not "good enough."
Ask yourself if those harsh thoughts are actually serving you. Chances are that you designed these super critical thoughts (that's right...you created your mental demons!) as a method of motivation. Some younger version of yourself thought fixating on your flaws and shortcomings would provide motivation to work on yourself and become better. And it might have even worked for a while...until things got out of hand. The voices started becoming vicious for the sake of being mean, not motivating. And instead of providing a ladder to climb with each self-improvement rung leading to a better version of yourself, your mental demons drag you down into a hole, setting you back further and further from your best self the more critical you become.
Is this useful to you? No. Are these voices doing what you originally set them there to do? No. So you have to take back control of your reality from your mental demons. Start living in the real world. Focus on taking actions in actual reality that lead to real results:
- Take physical actions (exercise/class/time alone in the studio) to work on your body and the moves you're struggling with.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet of real food that is not filled with chemicals or mood-altering, hormone-disturbing sugar.
- Find time to nurture your body & soul with massage and self-care techniques.
- Use meditation to shift your awareness from being inside your head to the world around you. (My favorite form of meditation is simply being outside in nature and observing it. It's a great way to get out of your head.)
- Search for joy & happiness in normal life. (I like to call this hunting aesthetics/happiness. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our "problems" and goals that we forget this life is a gift...and fleeting. Remind yourself to appreciate it.)
These real-world steps start to add up and shift your focus from your mental demons' reality to actual reality. You will start to feel the real-world effects of taking these actions leading to a healthier, stronger, more competent and beautiful (not as in surface-level-beauty, but in the sense of being a beautiful person capable of spreading love...instead of anger, fear, & doubt) version of you. This is a much better reality to live in...and one that has the power to impact the reality of the people around you in a positive way. A win win for you and the world.
Don't let your mental demons keep you trapped in a cage of self-imposed misery. Learn to recognize actual reality versus demon-imposed reality.
Photo credit: Noel Valero Photography