I’ve noticed that the person most likely to make me feel bad right now is me. Yes, it’s an inside job. So here I am in complete overwhelm, in rehearsals for three productions simultaneously. I have never worked this kind of schedule and I wondered how it would feel. It feels overwhelming. Like I can’t keep up and I’m disappointing everyone. I feel badly about this. Overwhelm is also causing me to forget things like costume fittings and singing lessons I’ve scheduled to teach.
Last summer in my life coaching classes for young singers I encouraged the students to use a tool of creating their own Artist’s Manifesto. One of the formats I offered them was to create a Care and Feeding Guide for their artist selves. The premise? My dog never lets me forget to feed him or walk him. That is part of his care. What do I need as part of my care? What feeds me? Do I need exercise, or mediation, or perhaps time reading? What really helps get one through the day feeling nurtured.
It is time to make a new chapter in my Care And Feeding Manual. I’ve noticed that the missing chapter should be called ‘Compassion’. Compassion for myself. The opportunities to beat myself up this past week were numerous. To be disappointed or embarrassed in my abilities or levels of preparation were at the forefront as I scrambled to meet my many obligations with integrity this last week.
The opportunity to spiral into self pity was waiting I noticed that when I feel vulnerable I want to hide and shut down. Hard on me and impossible as a way to exist in relation to others at work.
Instead, this time, I took the opposite path. I softened, I opened, I shared where I was.
I discovered that sharing with colleagues, friends and family that I needed help, support or forgiveness up front saved me from writing the old self-pity story. From integrity I was able to say, “I’m doing my best, but I’m struggling today.” I said it as much for them as for me. I rededicated myself to giving the best effort I had in me at that moment. I let go the judgments’ I had of me and the ones I thought they had of me. With each feeling of contraction and fear I softened. I leaned into friendships, kindness and especially memories of support. All tools that helped me stay with this soft place.
This was not easy or comfortable. But neither is the self flagellation route I would normally take. The result was that I didn’t feel that bad at the end of the day. I felt less battered and bruised by life. It was actually less painful.