ballet, mental health

Self-Criticism vs. Self-Sabotage


My mind is trained to see the imperfections. Most days I am nothing but a mere collage of body parts; never turned out enough, never flexible enough, never enough. Although this mentality has the potential to be detrimental, the ongoing quest for perfection is the fuel that keeps me, and other dancers alike, working hard every day and night in the studio. Understanding the differences between self-criticism and self-sabotage is the most crucial knowledge that any dancer can have. There is a very fine line between the two, and it is critical to establish healthy ways to critique yourself inside and outside of the classroom.

Insecurity and self-doubt are what the world of ballet thrives off of. Incentive is created because we, as perfectionists, want to be better; we want to rid all insecurities and imperfections away. This is where the fine line is drawn between self-criticism and self-sabotage. How do we try to eliminate those insecurities and imperfections? There are two answers to this question.

  1. Self-criticize. Analyze what you believe to be are your weaknesses, whether that is your technique, artistry, strength, epaulement etc.. and then analyze your strengths. Understand that, logistically, improving upon your weaknesses will take time. You also take the time to reward yourself when small goals are accomplished, such as nailing that double pirouette or jumping a little bit higher, and you do not beat yourself up if it does not happen again right away. Eventually, with hard work and a lot of hours put in, your weaknesses will become your strengths.
  2. Self-sabotage. Every thought is emotional instead of logical. Generally those who self-sabotage look for immediate results, and when those results do not occur, they punish themselves for it. Quite often, these dancers are not only comparing themselves to their reflection in the mirror, but also to their peers. Self-sabotage is destructive and negative which inevitably only makes your weaknesses, weaker.

Unfortunately, I see dancers every day, including myself sometimes, fall into the self-sabotage category. The reasoning for that is because it’s just human nature to think more negatively. The hard part is thinking positively. If self-criticism was easy, there would be a lot less insecurities in the world.

Ballet takes a toll on the body, mind, and spirit. It is such an elite art form because not everyone has the capability of doing it. If you want that capability, if dancing professionally is your dream, you must first understand that if you allow yourself to self-sabotage every time a movement, a variation, a rehearsal, or a performance does not go the way you wanted it to, you will never make it professionally. Sometimes the truth is harsh, but that is simply fact.

So learn now that the quest for perfection is ongoing because perfection can never be achieved. That should not discourage you from trying, but create a passion and drive in you that is endless for the art form that you love. Use any negative criticisms to your advantage. The whole world is here to judge you, so do yourself a favor, and don’t judge yourself.




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