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WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE SETBACKS?

We all have those days. We've been rolling for days or weeks.... Things finally seem to be working a bit (or a LOT) better! We are playing much freer and are super excited and enthusiastic about all of what's happening.

Then..

All of a sudden... it's gone. We feel betrayed by our own hopes and feel like we are back to ground zero.

Sounds familiar?

I suspect that this is something that we all experience along the way...

Why does this happen?

Well, I still have NO idea!! But what I CAN tell you is that the setbacks, as well as temporary relief, is a faze that comes and goes.

And as a pattern, I think I've had much more occurrence of setbacks and relieves during the beginning stages of my retraining and they eventually spaced out as I progressed. And as with progress in retraining and understanding of my own condition, the degree of the setbacks became not as drastic.

I have definitely learned how to cope with them better as I experienced them over and over. It's very emotionally draining if you're not used to it, or can't see any patten from the happenings, but when you stick to the path long enough, as a natural course I think you will not be taking them as close to your heart either.

So, to those who are still setback 'rookies' (wink) ....

Let the setbacks happen, embrace them and know that it'll pass eventually.

That being said, here are some speculated reasons as to why setbacks happen and solutions that have worked for me.

1) THIS IS PROBABLY HOW WE LEARN ANYTHING, HAVE PERSPECTIVE ON SHORT TERM MEMORY VS LONG TERM

Having setbacks does not mean that you are taking a step backwards at all. This is probably how we learn most anything. We have short term memory working when we are retraining and only when we accumulate enough prominent data, it becomes somewhat permanent or have a long term effect. Each time we practice, it becomes easier to tap into that same short term memory back again. What surfaces as a short term improvement is just a glimpse of what your brain understood at that moment. Don't take it emotionally (it's always counter productive) and keep on doing what you did to experience improvement and it'll surface and fade away until that becomes more or less permanent.

2) YOU ARE PLAYING UNDER A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT THAN HOW YOU'VE PRACTICED YESTERDAY. BUILD YOUR ENVIRONMENT REPERTOIRE.

Your memory is coupled with external and internal environment. What you can do in one environment would not work in another. This is like practicing in only one type of environment, say in the same safe comfortable practice room by yourself and never putting any slight pressure to yourself to practice performing in front of others or visualising performing when you are slightly nervous. You won't be able to perform in the same way you practiced in the practice room because you have not practiced in the other environment. When we are retraining we are more vulnerable to environmental change since new movements are new memories. Newly acquired movements are still not coupled in our environmental repertoire. The environmental change could be external such as different instrument, different room, different acoustics, temperature, weather, noise or internal such as difference in your hormonal balance, emotional state, energy level, biological time, tiredness, stress and excitement level, perception change etc.... When we start coupling our newly acquired movements in different environmental states, progress seem to become more stable.

3) YOU UN-KNOWINGLY ACQUIRED ANOTHER HABIT, CHECK IN WITH YOUR POSITION

One of the tricky thing about retraining by yourself is that you might be picking up secondary habits because of the confused sensations. You want to be able to check in with yourself, or have teacher/coach/colleague point out when your position and your movement is even further shifted from what you are baseline capable of at that moment. Always take natural position over avoiding weird sensations. In other words, try not to take up on a unnatural position because it feels better to you at the moment. Check your neck, shoulders, elbows, wrist and other joints and see if they are not too loose. You want to have a sense of your joints communicating with both sides of your bones without tension. Sometimes when you try to relax and let your joints too loose, your body lose connection with each other and symptoms appear worse.

4) YOU ARE JUST TIRED. TAKE A BREAK.

Obvious one. Taking a break for few days might just do the trick.


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Mindful Pianist AKIKO TRUSH

www.themindfulpianist.com  |   skype: akiko.trush

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