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Mindfully adjust your "inner commentary."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

In this thread, @mbok06 gives some advice that I think is important for those of us who are trying to learn to practice better.  Quoted here with permission:

There is always scope to give technical advice. However, sometimes I'm inclined to think that monitoring other aspects of our playing and creative selves can have the powerful effect required to get us through a difficulty.

I neutrally can't help but notice the harshly too self-critical tone of your posts. That expression is not in sync with what is to others evidently a much less problematic reality. What we sometimes omit to realise is that we all have an 'inner commentary' or 'voice' that both reflects and influences how we perceive reality. If that voice is significantly out of whack (either convincing us we are worse than we are or better than we are) it has a highly disruptive influence on our development and ability to identify, evaluate and learn new information. When our inner commentary is out of whack it can either convince us that the gulf between what we are aiming at and achieving is wider than it is; or it deludes us out of noticing that there is improvement needed at all. Both unrealistically high or low imbalance in how we describe our actions are counter-productive.

My suggestion is that you mindfully adjust your 'inner commentary' not simply to be kind but to be more in sync with what is. The benefit can be compared to dialling-in an old-style radio receiver and by accurately tuning in to the signal losing the unhelpful distracting interference. Clarity of perception and balance gives you a real practical base to work from and get to grips with and successfully assimilate the technical advice that is offered.

I find it easier to calibrate my self-image towards the negative than towards the positive.  Here are a few ways how:

  • Practicing with a metronome can reveal mistakes that I was glossing over by slowing down through the hard parts.
  • Listening to a recording of my playing reveals mistakes I don't hear when playing.

But these things tend to show me my mistakes, not where I'm doing well.  What can you do to adjust your self-image when it is unrealistically negative?  How do you calibrate your "inner commentary" so that it reveals an accurate sense of your playing, neither too pessimistic nor too optimistic?



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Was born. Lived 51 years without playing anything. Dad handed me his banjo. Here I am.

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