Frenemies and the (Wo)Man in the Mirror!

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You are your own worst critic. Well, you and that tone deaf, jerk faced judge that went all crazy on you last month at contest. UGH! 

Alright, so let’s just say, you're “among” your worst critics. "Go easy on yourself,” has long been the mantra long hailed by self-help gurus and greeting card authors alike. 

Sure, our politicians seem to have no problem with self-affirmation and adulation, but for the rest of us, the most damning assessment of who we are comes not from the person facing you, but the one in the mirror.

As it turns out, this state of self-loathing isn’t just depressing for your emotional state, it can take a toll on your body as well.

In a clinical study published in Psychology Today, scientists studied our “negativity bias,” which is the instinct that makes negative events seems more significant than they actually are. In other words, we are hard wired to give more weight to our flaws and failures than to our strengths and successes. 

So why are we so hard on ourselves? Apparently we can blame evolution.

Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison states, “ In order to survive and thrive, our brains are equipped with a mechanism which monitors for mistakes so as to be able to correct them. In order to correct them, we must first notice that a mistake has occurred.” 

It’s not the “noticing” of the mistakes that sends you into a self-shame spiral, but their disproportionate weight that makes us more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and pre-mature aging (clearly I am dwelling TOO much as I am not aging well!).

This Darwinian behavior is not helpful, in fact it is hurtful, not just for our health but for our job performance. Yep, reflecting on the bad doesn’t lead to better job performance, it makes it worse. In a 2016 study, scientists noted that “positive reflection of ones actions resulted in improved performance whereas negative reflection resulted in negative performance.”

You see where this is going don’t you?

Music teachers are experts at self-denegration to be sure!

We focus on the wrong notes more than the right ones.
We focus on the tardy students more than the punctual ones.
We focus on the disruptive kids & parents more than the compliant ones.
We focus on the weak performances more than the successful ones.


As the year winds down, for the sake of your health, longevity, and sanity, take a moment and focus on what went right this year. Dwell on the objectives you achieved, the impact you had, and the lives you changed for the better. Try to override the cognitive fall back of finding what you have have done wrong this year, and focus on what you did RIGHT!

You may not be your best advocate, but you can’t be your worst enemy either. As you prepare to retreat and relax, give yourself a break and save the frenemy complex for the cranky judges!

Have a WONDERFUL week and summer break! Let me know if I can help in any way.