“I can’t remember anything!”
That was what my usually confident daughter whispered to me right before heading to the stage during a piano recital a few years ago.
She was nervous.
So I reassured her, gave her a quick pep talk and then she walked up to the grand piano on the tiny stage and began to play the opening chords.
I released the breath I was holding and then paused. Was that the opening chords again? She’d practiced the song for weeks, so I knew what was supposed to come next.
Uh oh. My heart pounded as she once again played the same notes. She was stuck.
Still, I reasoned, it would be okay, because like the eleven pieces played before hers, her song was not a familiar one. Only we (and her teacher) knew that she was stuck in the beginning loop of the song. She could fake it, right?
Wrong. Paralyzed by her mistake, my daughter couldn’t see past her defeat at all. So much so that she stood up from the piano, took a bow and APOLOGIZED!
Then she practically leaped from the stage, looking for a big hole to swallow her up, because she was disappointed in herself, and completely bummed by her mistake. (Ironically, the title of her piece was “Consolation.”)
Later that night the piano teacher called to tell my daughter that she got so many responses about her. No one mentioned failure. In fact, everyone wanted to comfort my daughter, lift her spirits. They didn’t want her to feel bad.
Because we all know the feeling of failure, the pain of embarrassment. We even know the self-recrimination. Which is why we don’t go around kicking people when they’re down, we build them back up, we encourage them.
We wouldn’t want to be around anyone who did otherwise, right?
So why do we accept the negative thoughts from ourselves? Why do we beat ourselves up about our mistakes? Why is it so easy to lift other’s spirits but not our own?
We are taught to treat people the way we want to be treated, but sometimes we forget about ourselves.
So include yourself on your list of spirits to lift today, because in order to move forward we need to believe in ourselves too.
“Today I had a battle, the fight was hard and long;
My opponent was so stubborn, and I knew him to be wrong.
We didn’t need a referee, because, when we were through,
The decision was unquestioned, nor did we start anew.
I never did like fighting, and yet I fail to see,
How I could help but cheer a bit, when I had conquered ME.”
— Hazel V. Wolfe