When advice causes inner conflict

If you're anything like me, when confronted with conflicting advice I feel little flutters of panic and agitation. It heightens the sense of pressure around the choice, like there is no way to win. Someone is going to be upset. Or disappointed. Or I will be wrong one way or the other. 

Do you feel this way? I always wonder if it's just me that feels these things....

At any rate, you maybe have received this advice about conflicting advice - You must figure out what is best for you, because you're the one performing or creating. 

Ahhh, even more pressure! Why can't I just follow what the experts say? Now I have to figure out what I think is right for me! 

That is the most annoying thing. You are looking to experts, paying experts, to tell you the right way. Making it in the art and performing world is tough enough. You want answers, you want help, you want clarity and direction.

And then you get more confusion. Or even more turmoil and anxiety. 

You probably know that ultimately it is best to figure out what choices feel right to you, even if they break rules or go against the advice of trusted mentors. But why can this feel so hard?

If you related to the feelings of panic and agitation at the prospect of conflicting advice, let me suggest it is amplifying internal conflict. Right? Maybe you already knew this. Probably you did. However, it's taken me forever to learn this lesson.

Internal conflict can show up as a sense of uncertainty, of not knowing, and feeling not okay with that state. It can also show up as voices arguing in your head. This argument repeats and repeats, as if neither side hears the other. Or inability to commit to a decision, a choice. Feeling wishy-washy and confused.

I always come back to the question of WHY does external advice leave me feeling agitated or uncertain? Why don't I know my own answers? What can help me to know more of myself in this process?

Here's what I do when I feel agitated by external advice. 

  1. Notice the feeling. 
    "Agitated. Upset. Panic that I'm going to be wrong." Whatever it is you feel, notice it. 
  2. Where do you feel this in your body? 
    How do you know you're feeling that way? Is there a voice talking to you in your head? A sensation in your stomach? A general unease?
  3. What does this voice/feeling/sensation want you to know?
    Hear it with as much space and understanding as possible. "Ahh, I feel the turmoil in my belly! Got it, it is really strong. Yep, I hear you are upset and worried that you'll do it wrong."
  4. Can you identify more than one voice, part, or desire?
    What is the internal conflict about? What are the arguments, the internal disputes really about? I mean, the dispute over where to breath in your music isn't really about that. It might be worrying that the conductor will hate your choice, but you just need that breath. Or it might be feeling that breathing more somehow makes you feel not good enough. Whatever it is, can you get under the surface reason and find a deeper reason?
  5. Somewhere in there, you do know the answer. 
    I mean, I'm not saying you are an expert at everything. I'm not saying if you just trusted yourself more you could do surgery. I'm saying, when facing artistic and musical choices, you do have an opinion that you can rely upon. Sometimes in fact, you do need more training and knowledge. But you can at the same time, hone your internal instincts and self-trust, while working on gaining the needed knowledge and tools.
  6. Be patient.
    It can take time, but with following this process, you can find the trust and solid knowledge of what is right for you. This is so helpful in being a courageous artist. Think of the artists you love the most. Many of them break rules, push boundaries, make bold choices. What leads them to do so? Inner trust and belief in their artistic choices.

Where does internal conflict show up for you? What are the layers underneath that conflict? As always, I'd love to hear from you. Or leave a note on the blog. 

Cheers to making bold choices and trusting your Inner Artist!