The Gift of Comparison

Have you ever looked at another creative and thought,

They sound better than me
They look better than me
They have got it all together, and I’m a mess!

How does that feel in your body?

Pretty awful, right?

I can remember showing up to dance auditions and dreading if I was put in the same group to dance as certain dancers.  There they would be, with their long legs, perfect bodies, and glowing confidence, and I would panic, thinking the choreographer would never look at me.

Even though I didn’t want to be feeding the voice in my head telling me how I DIDN’T measure up, I would spiral, and as a result have crappy auditions and performances.

Comparison.

UGH!

Comparison is a real issue because it keeps your nervous system in a state of fight or flight.  With every thought of,
this person is better than me
this person has something better than me

your whole nervous system is in fear, because you are constantly monitoring for what is unfavorable.

This is no way to live, my dear one.
And certainly no way to create our best or perform our best.

And this was proven to me time and again.

But there was something magical that happened when I did perform my best.
There was something completely different happening when the choreographer would gleefully hire me.

There’s a way to turn this around, because we ALL feel it. You are not alone, and I want to give you some powerful tools so comparison doesn’t take you out any longer.

 

So, let’s start with the moment of comparison.

You’re looking at someone else and thinking,
they have it and I don’t

If we stopped here, the result would be toxic.  But, let’s allow the comparison to actually point us towards what you DO want.

What is it EXACTLY this other Creative possesses?

Is it confidence?
Is it ease in front of their audience?
Is it a powerful presence in their performance?
Is it words that jump off the page?

Take the comparison as an opportunity to understand what you CRAVE.  And here’s the juicy part…now CLAIM it for yourself.

Give yourself PERMISSION to claim this.

Allow yourself to tap into all that is powerful in you.

For myself as a dancer, I used to marvel at the EASE of these other dancers.  They would remember the combination effortlessly and be able to really PERFORM, bringing themselves to the dance.  They stood out because they were relaxed.

So this was what I worked on. This is what I claimed, and the results were completely different.

Your desires are actually pointing you towards your aliveness, towards your unique light.  Let them REMIND you what you CAN have and embody.

Instead of bringing you down, comparison is actually pointing you towards what needs permission to thrive.
You truly have all you need….it’s all there inside you.

 

Comparison can also be our way of being terrified.  As Creatives and Performers, we can be terrified of being seen, of being magnetic to our audience.

So, comparison can be used as an unconscious way to stay small.

Small in our Art
Small in our words
Small in our actions

Standing in that audition room, looking at another redheaded dancer who has Broadway credits, I would think,
If she really is that good of a dancer, if she really is that talented, then who am I to chase my dreams? Who am I to stand in my worthiness and claim this moment?

Have you ever felt this?

I certainly did…….

Because it can be terrifying to fully FEEL your power as a Creative; to fully feel you are limitless.

SLOW down and ask,
Where am I hiding?
Where am I terrified?
Where am I giving myself an excuse?

And all from a place of empathy.  There is actually no problem here.  There is so much shame that gets put around comparison and jealousy and self deprecation. Finger pointing never works, but inquiry and curiosity does.

I’m here today to lovingly tell you, there’s nothing wrong with you.  You are not broken.  You’ve just been scared.

AND, you have the power to flip it.

When comparison arises, you can say,
I’m comparing!

Then USE it, slow down, and turn the light around.  Shine it within to gain clarity around what you truly WANT and where you are hiding.

 

So, take a moment right now, and write down what you are going to CLAIM starting today.
Use this to bring you back to empowerment.

 

Step out of the shadows.  Your light is brilliant.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Overcoming Criticism and Rejection

Have you ever had a horrible performance and just wanted to hide?
Have you ever gone out on a limb with your work and had it completely rejected?

It can feel awful, right?

Maybe you spent a lot of time on your art, and were SO excited to share it with your audience, only to either hear crickets, or even worse, be shredded in criticism.

From the criticism comes a flooding of doubt, and I imagine you feel like your confidence is nonexistent.

As you are working on your next project or performance, you can feel that voice coming up saying,
I don’t know what I’m doing
They’re just going to hate it…

And you begin to question everything you’re doing, and your creative process goes from a place of joy to one filled with stress and anxiety.

You may even stop your work, paralyzed in place for fear of being booed, judged, and rejected,

How do you get past this block?
How do you regain confidence and feel amazing again?

 

This past weekend I went for marriage counseling with my fiance up at Zen Mountain Monastery.  We met with the Abbott, Shugen, who has been a guiding light for me since my divorce.

To have counseling, we had to meet in the Abbott’s room, and as I walked in, a huge realization came over me.

I had only been in this room once before, and it was five years ago. 

When I walked into this room five years ago, it was to have my first ever face to face teaching with a Zen teacher.  I was participating in the Intro to Zen Training weekend, and my heart was in my throat.  I was barely able to choke out my burning question of ‘how do I let go??’…..I wept that whole weekend and I was coming to grips with losing my home, marriage, and possible motherhood.

I felt shaky, unsure, and fragile. I was dealing with the largest rejection of my life.….hearing I was no longer loved or wanted.

Same room……

Now I was walking in hand in hand with my fiance, planning my actual ceremony in this Monastery.

Same room…..

I could barely conceive this was possible five years ago.  I though the rejection would destroy me. And the whole energy of the room was different for me.  There was more space, the room felt larger, and I felt so at ease.

Space and ease.

Maybe it wasn’t the room.

 

So, how do you find this in those heartbreaking moments of rejection?
How do you return to the same “room” and have different results?

 

As I sat in the chair facing Shugen, and looking at my life partner, one word came into my head,
CHANGE

Change is constant.

When I was facing the most devastating rejection of my life, this was my mantra. I learned I had been wrong for years…I thought things would always be the same.  I thought things were permanent….like my marriage, my home, and my performance fears.

I thought I would always suffer in the same places, choke on the big auditions, and not get picked for the roles I really wanted.

And yet…..I watched it all change.

My marriage I thought I would have forever….end.
My apartment I thought I would have children in…be sold and bought by a new couple.

And as I accepted this change, I found it freed me to take larger risks in my art, and a thought occurred…
What if I DID get picked for the roles I wanted?
What if I could give my best performance regardless of outside pressure?

What IF I could return to audition rooms and stages where I had been rejected before and now shine?

At first it was a sliver of an opening….a simple energy I took into my performance, and with each new song and dance, I would try it out….one day at a time.

And then I watched my whole performance career return, and directors and choreographers offering jobs and roles I was excited about!

I went in for a big Broadway audition where the pianist played the music horribly….and I wasn’t phased.  This was a HUGE difference from before when I would have been derailed and left feeling dejected.

 

So, when was the last time you felt criticized and rejected in your Art?

Take a moment and allow yourself to feel the disappointment.
Close your eyes, and place your hand on your heart or belly.
Connect to your breath, and allow the feeling to rise, and then fall.

So often, the strong emotion just wants to be acknowledged.  Often times, once we accept it and offer love, the feeling disappears.

Change.  It’s there and then it’s gone.

Turns out, it’s not permanent. It doesn’t last.

If this can happen with a feeling, it can happen in your Art.

It can happen in your performance, and how you are received by your audience. That criticism can change and WILL change when you return again and again with the intention of making great work.

You are becoming and changing in every moment, and what a miracle!
You feeling stuck is only a bump in the road.

Come back to your inspiration and your vision of what you want to SAY as an Artist.

Same room…..filled with space and ease.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography