Our children are both dancers, and our eldest daughter enjoys performing in eisteddfods. Before every eisteddfod, I start giving her “the talk”. I say “start” because it has been quite a while since she last let me finish…
Me: “Remember that we are already proud of you…”
Daughter (eyes rolling, slightly audible sigh in her voice): “Yes, Mum. I know that the results are one person’s opinion in one moment. I know that what I feel about myself as a person and a dancer matter. I know that the adjudicator’s opinion only matters if I let it. I know that it is the adjudicator’s opinion, it is not necessarily how life is. I know that you love me with all of your heart and couldn’t possibly be more proud than you already are. I know that it is about enjoying dance and being comfortable that I have done my best. I know that it is not about winning or losing. It’s fiiii-iiine, Mum. I just want to dance.”
Me: “OK, well, as long as you know.”
Daughter: “Yes, I know.”
At the end of every dance section, the adjudicator hands out judgements and opinions with regard to who has won and who has placed. Some overall feedback is provided to the group of dancers, together with a report sheet for each individual dancer.
What I find interesting about this is the different level of authority that each dancer (and their support crew) seems to give to the decisions and feedback from the adjudicator(s), with or without being consciously aware that they are doing so.
Some dancers give total authority to what the adjudicator has to say. Some don’t give any authority to what the adjudicator has to say. Some, like our daughter, consciously choose what they are going to give authority to and what they are not going to give authority to. For example: “Mum, I think the adjudicator has a point about my wings and I am going to take her feedback on board. However, overall, that is the best I have ever danced that dance and I did it with a broken tap shoe, so she might think it wasn’t worthy of a place but I did a personal best and that’s more important to me”.
I think that life is similar to a dance eisteddfod. It brings with it many judgements and opinions, whether they are our own opinions of ourselves, other people’s opinions of us, or what we think are the opinions of others. Opinions and judgements can only have an impact on us if we give them authority. When we consciously choose the authority that we are giving to opinions, we can consciously choose about how we respond to them, in much the same way as our daughter chose to respond to the adjudicator’s feedback.
If we find ourselves responding to opinions and judgements in a way that isn’t helping us, perhaps a useful question is: What authority am I providing to these opinions and why?
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