As dancers, we’ve all done it: you’re in a room, surrounded by mirrors, with others working towards the same performance goals. How can we not compare? Looking at the dancer across the room might motivate us to work harder so, technically, isn’t it a good thing?

The problem with the mirror game is when the comparisons involve more than just performance goals. With bodyweight, body shape, and eating behaviours often at the forefront of a dancer’s mind, it’s common to use the mirror as a tool for impractical comparisons that leave us feeling like we’re not enough. To better utilize your time in class, break down 5 simple steps for you to take to stop the comparison game and instead, use the mirror as your best tool for learning.

Step 1: Identify The Trigger

Become aware of what you’re comparing. Is it his or her technique? Body shape or size? Perhaps it’s an opportunity like a casted role or maybe a behaviour like one’s suspected “willpower” over certain foods. Specifying the one (or multiple) triggers that spews envy will help to break the emotional train that follows.

Step 2: Be Aware of the Negative Effects

Now that you’re identifying those triggers, consider the overall impact. Are you left feeling upset about your body? If so, you’ll want to build a positive relationship with your body STAT. Body image plays a major role in your confidence both on stage and throughout life. Are you envious of one’s seemingly “healthy” eating behaviours? Remember, “willpower” is only a temporary form of control and restrictive diets don’t work long term. Start building confidence in a balanced lifestyle.

Step 3: Rewrite Your Mental Narrative

Now that you’re aware of the negative impact of your comparisons, it’s time to change your narrative. When working with dancers 1:1, the Most optimal solution is they start journaling as an opportunity for self-reflection and behavioural change. Here are 4 journaling exercises to start rewriting your mental narrative:

Ask yourself: Why am I giving so much attention to others?

Realize that individuals are unique beings. This is an essential part for you to build confidence as a dancer. Swap envy with support and simply compliment that person.

If your envy spews from social media, remember: social media allows us to create a curated highlight reel. In other words, we can never know someone’s life by just looking at pictures or videos.

Step 4: Express Gratitude

It’s easy to focus on minuscule events like casting lists, which can leave you feeling disappointed. This downward spiral can ultimately inhibit personal growth. As discussed previously, journaling exercises can help to build confidence through self-reflection. Here’s an example: List your triggers in column form and brainstorm 5 experiences and/or personal characteristics that you are currently grateful for.

Step 5: Find Inspiration Without Competition

Competition, however, can leave you exhausted and as a result. Self-confidence is again your best tool for doing this. Knowing that you too can achieve a goal fuels your motivation for progress. However, make sure your goal is sustainable. Here are a few key articles to read before you set out towards those goals.

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