Dancers are wonderful, unique and creative human beings. However, self doubt, anxiety and wavering confidence can affect many dancers at some stage in their training or career and the fear of failing can force a dancer to question if they are following the right path. Having past experience of this myself, training as a dancer and post training, I completely understand and empathise with this and along the way I have discovered helpful methods, which I hope will help you too. There are 10 tips listed below that may help you to enhance your self esteem.
I’m sure many people reading this, dancers or non dancers, will of experienced the self destructive thoughts of “I’m not good enough” or “I just can’t do this” at some point in their lives…. This battle with negative thoughts can cause potential limitations and creative blocks. Anxiety and conflicts with self confidence can have a negative impact on a dancer’s goals and ambitions and cause a loss of focus. The demands that cause anxiety are generally placed on the dancers by the dancers themselves or from pressures by teachers, choreographers, parents or peers. These pressures can pose a threat to a dancer’s mental and physical wellbeing and to their self esteem.
Self esteem is defined as holding a positive opinion of yourself, your actions and capacities. Dancers can often attach self esteem to their dance ability and are likely to set high standards for themselves and pursue their idea of ‘perfection’. The drive for perfectionism forces many dancers to make personal sacrifices and it is potentially addictive and consuming. The pursuit can often distort a dancer’s reality as some dancers may consider their performance to be poor or unacceptable but to the outside eye, there is a differing opinion. This distortion can lead to a dancer’s depression, frustration, irritation, anxiety and a sense of failure.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong”. Joseph Chilton Rearce
Lack of self esteem can have a negative impact on the body physically and mentally:
1 It can cause tension in the muscles and stress on the body.
2 It can create worry, low mood and depression, which can result in poor sleeping patterns. The lack of sleep effects the body’s time to repair, causing potential injury, illness and poor concentration.
3 Lack of self esteem can cause low energy, irritation and tearfulness.
4 It can generate anxiousness that can lead to heart palpitations, breathing problems and panic attacks.
5 It can cause negative thought patterns to circulate that can be difficult to break.
How can you increase self esteem? Here are a few tips that I have found useful over the years and I hope you do too:
1 Remember why you began to dance in the first place. What was it that made you fall in love with dance? Visit the theatre or watch some dance on YouTube and feel inspired again.
2 Recognise when you have made an achievement, even the small ones. We easily remember our failures and focus more on the negative. Celebrate in style!
3 Have a clear goal and visualise yourself achieving it. What does it feel like to have reached that target? Set yourself a mixture of short and long term goals. This will help to give you focus and direction.
4 List 5 people who have championed you throughout your dance career. What did they do or say to encourage you?
5 Respect your body. Eat a balanced, nutritional diet that works for you, drink lots of water and have a good nights sleep. Listen to your body and any pain that might arise as it may be calling out for specialist treatment from a professional. Avoid ignoring injuries as this can cause long term damage.
6 Use Meditation techniques to help quiet your mind and to regulate your breathing. Additionally it can help with obtaining a good quality nights sleep and to release any tension in the muscles.
7 Detach from criticism. As dancers we are exposed to criticism from teachers, choreographers and critics. Separate the criticism from you as an individual and see it as constructive and there to help your progression. Sometimes our ‘inner critic’ is the most cruel and we need to be more lenient with ourselves. Ask yourself, if your best friend criticised you the way you criticise yourself, would you still be friends with them?
8 Don’t compare yourself to others. You are wonderful and unique and every artist and dancer has something special to offer.
9 Surround yourself with positive, supportive, hard working people who have your back, who you can trust and who love you for who you are.
10 Have fun and don’t always take yourself too seriously. Sometimes the best ideas can emerge when you are more relaxed and in flow.
Finally believe in your ability, trust in yourself, listen to your intuition, breathe, stay calm, surround yourself with the best kinds of people who have your greatest interest and take care of yourself.
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