How to stay positive whilst injured
Whether you’re fearful of injury or you’re currently living through it, injury is something that many performers really struggle to accept.
And for good reason, injury can bring on feelings of significant loss. I’m sure you’ll agree, as a performer, you become so deeply connected with your work, that it really becomes how you identify yourself.
“I’m a dancer”, “I’m a singer”, “I’m a musician”
Often we aren’t consciously aware of this sense of identity, until something changes.
Having a strong sense of identity in life is a fundamental need, so of course it’s natural to resist any threat to this creative world you have come to know.
The good news is, some of the lessons we learn through injury can help us to grow, and face many other challenges in life, in a more helpful way.
So when injury strikes, how do we go from:
“I can’t stand this,”
“This isn’t fair,”
“This can’t be true,”
and “It shouldn’t be this way.”
to reducing the psychological pain and becoming content with being You again?
The truth is, while we certainly can’t avoid pain, we actually can control how much we allow ourselves to suffer.
Much like the skills you have acquired as a performer, practicing acceptance is challenging but not impossible. Of course, accepting your injury doesn’t mean you water down your feelings towards your current situation. It’s more of a change in mindset.
Life as a performer is going to look a little different than before.
Retraining while taking care of your injury means altering your mindset in order to embrace this change. You’re learning to dance within a whole new realm of space and now have an additional element to consider.
Lean into it, don’t resist it.
Having a sense of trust that things are going to be ok, allows you to live without fear.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.Tao Te Ching
Did you know that by changing the way you look at a situation, you are going to engage parts of your brain that help to energise and motivate you? This leads to associating your situation with more positive feelings by activating your rewards centre, so you’ll feel less threatened.
Talking about your concerns with someone you feel safe with can help you release some of the stress associated with injury.
Here’s something to consider; what if we viewed injury as an opportunity?
Now is your chance to take a breath and reassess your approach to life.
Here are three common needs that go unmet when you’re injured as a performer:
Perhaps you’ve had a spotlight on your chosen area of performance for so long that you never discovered how creative you truly are!
Thinking of yourself as a creative person can help you build a much more rounded sense of self.
Even if you’ve never pursued other interests before, being injured is a great time to invest in learning something new.
Can you imagine and tutu wearing guitar player?
Of course you can! You’re creative and imaginative and the truth is, as an injured dancer, I did just that… I taught myself to play the guitar, so I’m now fortunate to have another creative outlet to depend on when life gets a bit stressful.
So you might try a different art form when you’re injured, it’s still creative but it’s not going to get in the way of your recovery.
Now you might be starting to see some potential to this unexpected path on your performance journey. Except, perhaps you’re still feeling that sense of loss that comes with sitting it out on the side lines.
A lot of your confidence as a person, comes from your ability as a performer.
So when you’re injured or out of work, you’re actually missing out on that feeling of
“I’m competent, I can do stuff.”
By taking the pressure off that one area of your life to fulfil all your competence needs, you can shift your focus and meet your competence needs in other ways.
Take your pen out and start listing some interests you could pursue to feel like you’re achieving something.
Perhaps you could begin by offering your assistance in other areas of your school or company, such as social media.
Maybe now is a good time to explore some avenues you might like to study beyond your career as a performer?
Recovering from injury can mean missing out on being part of something which connects you socially to others. So, we also want to look for alternative ways to stay connected.
You might be surprised to find ways to stay connected that you’d never really considered, like sewing pointe shoes for your dance friends?
Also, with more time in your schedule you may find that you’re able to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while. Perhaps you’re due for a visit back home? Or is this a chance to rekindle a friendship that your demanding schedule hasn’t allowed time for?
In order to stay connected with the world you are familiar with, it could be helpful to ask a friend to keep you up to date with the day to day things you are used to being part of in your role as a performer.
It’s more important than ever for you to find ways to stay connected, in order to help buffer you through this time.
Ultimately, the goal of acceptance is to create a rich and meaningful life while acknowledging the pain that comes with it.
I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to becomeCarl Gustav Jung
If you’d like some support getting into a good mindset to cope with the ups and downs of injury, please get in touch.