Tag Archives: Reflection

The Inevitable

As I mused to someone before… We who tend to be easily affected by the opinions of others and who hold ourselves to high expectations would likely carry these traits with us wherever we go.

So no matter which job you do, which country you move to, it’s probably unlikely that you’d be able to get away from yourself.

Which is why, as always, the most important work has to be done within.

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Free From Ego

A recent read (this) led me to contemplate about how much I let my ego get in the way of the things I do .

“Over-investing your ego in your results is unproductive and unnecessary. If you think the failure of your ideas is a personal failure, you’ll take too few risks, risks that could ultimately pay off. But if you can learn to separate yourself from your ideas and your work and see them as something separate from yourself, you’ll feel you truly have the right to be wrong.” – Steve Pavlina

I thought this was really poignant because it very closely describes and articulates why I fear failure so much. Why I even fear responsibility to a certain extent, because with more responsibility it means that there is also a greater chance of… you guessed it, failing.

Recently, as a member of a local professional body, I was tasked to help out with editing of the association’s newsletter. It was a job I thought I’d be well-suited to do. I’m generally organized, communicate well with people through emails, and make sure everyone keeps to their deadlines to make sure the publication makes it out in and on time.

What I did not forsee was… when the time came for final rounds of edits to be made and a few colleagues kindly offered to help me look through the publication one more time, I was aghast to find that… there were MORE things to change. Things I had not noticed were inconsistent, things I had not thought of looking at until they were pointed out to me. The horror. It totally collided with my view of myself as an organised, on-top-of-everything, time-keeping freak.

Then I came across the podcast/article on OLD, and the quote above, in particular, struck a deep chord with me. I had been over-invested in my ego when I accepted the role, that was clear enough to see. And because of that, I linked discrepancies and perceived lapses in the job as personal failures, as personal flaws. When it does not have to be this way. It could be simply a job everyone is tackling together, for the ultimate goal of getting the publication out.

And when I think deeper, I see how much I have learnt from placing myself out there, from accepting that I have missed out these details, and from re-organizing my perspective so that I look out for such things better in future projects. Without being “wrong”, or flawed, I would not have had the valuable learning experience.

And now I have a beautiful, wonderful opportunity to work on something for self-improvement: To do my work wholeheartedly without necessarily seeing them as an all-encompassing part of who I am. The work may fail, we may stumble and trip and fall along the way, but it need not define who we are 🙂 Yay for that.

 

On a separate note, it’s off to Bali for the mother and me for the next 5 days. Perfect time for rest, reflection and recharge!

“That Was Hard.” – a Lesson in Self Compassion

“That was so hard! You did amazing for what you were given to deal with!”

These words meant a lot to me for 2 main reasons.

  1. It’s not our cultural norm for someone to acknowledge how hard the things we have to do sometimes may be. I mean this in a widespread sense, not job-specific sense. But when your job is sometimes seen as nothing more than “having fun” and “making music with kids”, it can be even harder for people to understand why you feel like you have a hard time. So, having someone who understands when we have a difficult session, and acknowledge that it was hard, can be enough to move me to tears.
  2. I learnt that acknowledging and accepting when something is hard does not necessarily include admitting that I’m incompetent, which is one of my greatest fears. I learnt that acknowledging and accepting when something is objectively and naturally hard actually opens my mind to think about what can be done to overcome the difficulty of the problem, without getting too personal about it. Without thinking that if this doesn’t work = I’m a complete failure. Simply acknowledging the mountain-like nature of the tasks we have to do (Eg: Engage 6 kids at once on the same task, each of which have a different developmental delay diagnosis and/or have ASD and a cognitive age estimate of below 12months..) can go a long way in accepting that sometimes we don’t get the kind of completion and success we want, but can still learn and grow from the experience.

After that line was said to me, I felt so touched that the challenging nature of the situation was acknowledged, and I felt myself become more open than ever to take in suggestions for change and improvement. And some of the suggestions given were really good.

Of course I would have accepted the suggestions given anyway. But if not for this line, I don’t think I’d feel as confident about moving on, and might have even internalised some negative messages about myself. Not exactly the most healthy thing.

So today, I am thankful for this lesson in Self-Compassion. May all be well and happy!

Tenderness

It was not the dazzling show of virtuosity, or the lightning-speed passages which captivated my physically tired self on a Friday evening.

It was the second movement of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto which had me feeling most moved, most emotionally engaged, and most present.

It was when I heard and saw the notes from the piano emerge – featherlight tones, their sound ringing out to reach the deepest recesses of the concert hall. They carried with them emotion, multitudes of subtlety within their frequencies. And I felt my inner world move with them, sighing with them, feeling more anchored with them than with the booming bass and dazzling melodies of the opening movement.

And I found myself thinking about how rare it has become for our world to appreciate and embrace such tenderness. Which is probably why we need music (and art) like that to remind us. To remind us of the beauty and necessity of tenderness.

What can we do to cherish more of such tenderness?

What can we do so that being soft-spoken and non-assertive are not seen as negative, weak traits, but part of a larger, beautiful and accepted self?

Perhaps, as with most changes we want to see, it’d have to begin with ourselves.

 

Lessons From July: A Good Struggle

2 days late, but I was writing in my journal on the 1st of August and came up with a few things that July has taught me, and thought this main one to be blog-worthy.

The lesson on The Struggle and The Emerging… and the Going Back Again.

Yes, struggles like these are probably never going to completely go away. We find periods in our lives where we seem to be sinking into them uncontrollably, and by some stroke of luck and seeming effort, emerge from them thinking ourselves to be stronger than before, only to be immersed in the struggle again, once something else happens.

I’m referring to the struggle with self-doubt, of course.

And if there’s one thing July taught me, it’s that this struggle is truly necessary for reflection and growth. In fact, I should be worried if I don’t feel any struggle and am completely comfortable. Because it’d mean that I’m not pushing myself, that I’m not being stretched, that I’m not growing. In work or in my personal development.

The fact that I see my struggles as negative when they occur does not mean that they truly are. Just like we hate the bitter medication we have to take when prescribed, but when we’re well we look back and see how we couldn’t have gotten better without enduring and going through the medication process. Something like that.

The going through of the struggle also showed me how much I want to continue to do what I do, IN SPITE of the difficulties. It did not trigger in me feelings or thoughts of wanting to quit, or give up, or just let things be. It triggered in me the persistence to think of new ideas, to infuse new life into my approaches and interventions, and to put in more efforts to make the necessary connections and to develop the confidence I need to speak about what I do. The struggle did all that. And I am thankful.

I’m sure the next wave of self-doubt will come soon enough – there seems to be no lack of that in our world. Let’s hope that I’ll remember this lesson, on the value of a good struggle.

 

Unthoughts

I recently started incorporating Morning Pages into my morning routine, moving some other stuff around so that I do not have to wake up earlier than I already do (Hint: When I tell people how early I get up, their next question is usually an incredulous ‘what do you DO?!’).

All in a bid to give the mind some space, to examine, to reflect, to introspect, to know myself better.

All for a better state of being in this world which can sometimes feel really hard to be in.

 

Anxious Teachers

A music therapy session with a new class today got me thinking about certain things.

Ironically, it wasn’t the kids I worked with that got me thinking. It was the teacher of the class.

More specifically, how the teacher of the class responded to her kids’ behaviour.

Bearing in mind, of course, that these are kids with special needs, albeit high-functioning ones. They understand instructions, they can follow verbal directions without needing too many prompts, and they can adhere to rules and regulations when imposed within the boundaries of the classroom.

The thing was, though… where is the balance between imposing rules and letting the kid “be themselves”?

When is it ok to let the kid have free reign over how he wants to drum and how he wants to hold his mallets, and when is the right time to correct them and show them the “right” way to play?

When is it necessary to step in to tell the kids to “use gentle hands” because they’re doing something really dangerous to hurt themselves and/or their friend and when is it ok to let them have their fun and freedom, even at the risk of taking some risk?

I don’t have all the answers, even though some of the teachers would think that we’re the “music experts” and SHOULD have all the answers.

My stance has always been that musical expression is and can be a platform for communication, interaction, identity building and personal growth, even at 5-6 years old. So when we tell a kid they’re playing the drum “wrongly”, or that they’re going to hit their friend, when in fact they’re sincerely communicating and expressing through the act, it could possibly send a deep message to to them, influencing how they start to view the world and their role in it. Something I really hope we have not done.

Being a teacher, no matter the context, is never an easy task, as I can personally vouch. But I sometimes think we’d do our charges a lot more good if we learnt how to put our own anxieties aside and not worry so much about out heads rolling off the chopping boards should the kid emerge with so much as a scratch on their arm.

Give them more space to find themselves, more air to breathe and discern right from wrong… play the role of the guide, not the authority.

Isn’t that possibly more beneficial for them in the long run?