Sit down with a sheet of paper and a pen. Now remember the last time you sang publicly. Write down what you said you yourself before you sang. Now write down what you said to yourself afterwards. You might have told other people even what you thought of your performance, you can write that down too.
Next, put down on paper the name of three friends who you have heard sing recently. Write down what you have told them or would tell them after hearing them perform.
Compare the two dialogues. What do you say to yourself? How are you treating yourself? How do you talk to yourself in comparison to others?
If I had to guess, you are much kinder, encouraging and positive with friends vocal work than you are with your own. The argument you are hearing in your head now is your gremlin/inner armchair critic telling you that if they didn’t keep cracking the whip:
A)Your standards would slide to God knows where.
B)You’d be lazy
C)Your friends would lie to you and pretend you were singing well, but we would know you aren’t. How embarrassing.
D)Everyone knows that a serious artist is serious and works hard and never settles for anything less than perfection!
E)Without this inner lecture you would look like a fool next time you sang publicly.
F)If you aren’t reminded of your shortcomings you’d get a swelled head.
Personal Confession: I have my own armchair critic, just like you do. I remember the times that voice was really loud, for me that is usually post audition in the car or cab on the way home. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Anger. Depression. Frustration. I swear it is like the stages of Grief thing. Probably even denial is in there.
Because of this critic have I ever performed better? Worked in any other way than I would anyway because I actually love performing? Has it ever saved me from embarrassing myself? No. Rather I watch that voice take away my power as a performer. And I’ve watched it gut my students and colleagues and clients. Like the Fox News Channel in your head it screams of dire events and disasters and the moment of reckoning. And all the time, the fear it stirs up, like a self fulfilling prophecy, actually creates the poor performance/audition it claims to be saving me from.
I shuts us down. It makes us second guess all my choices. It yells over our own voices withhate mongering diatribes and pretends it is here to help. Help? Really? Seriously? You call that help?
I dare you to ‘help’ anyone you love in your life with that dialogue directed at them.
To you, armchair critic, I say loudly and clearly “Talk to the hand. Because I’m not listening anymore”.
Homework: if this blog resonates with you, then take the challenge off the top to write down those dialogues you are hearing.
What is the big scary monster in the room that your armchair critic is trying to save you from?
Ask yourself the question: Is this helping or hindering?
This blog was inspired by the Create Your Artists Owner Manual assignments which I’m offering in a five week Musical Theatre Class for Adults. I invite my readers to join the students in this opportunity to claim your artistic voice in a powerful and practical way.