WHY IS IT SO HARD TO START PRACTICING?
Is resisting practice bad behavior?
Maybe . . . sometimes.
What many parents may not realize is that many professionals struggle with the same thing.
We may not insist we need to use the bathroom, are dying of thirst, or are suddenly starving as soon as it’s time to start, but we still sometimes feel that internal pull of knowing we should practice and feeling resistance to getting started.
We learn to work through it and practice anyway but many performers will tell you it’s there.
In fact resistance to getting started affects creative people of all types: writers, and painters and other creatives talk about it all the time and it definitely affects musician’s as well.
A friend was telling me recently about an interview she saw with a young Olympic swimmer who, when asked what the hardest part of being a world class swimmer was, said “The hardest part is getting in the pool and getting wet.” Even at that level getting started each day wasn’t easy.
In author Steven Pressfield’s book
The War of Art
he talks about a thing he calls “the resistance:”
“Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled, But it can be felt. We experience it as a energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It’s aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
When I read this quote at a number of institute talks this past summer, I always saw heads from the teachers and performers in the room nodding in agreement.
I feel this when I have a writing project I need to work on, and I feel it when I need to practice.
It can feel like a physical revulsion to doing what we know we should do.
Because it’s hard
Because it takes going to a vulnerable place where we might get criticism
Because it takes deep thinking and putting aside other tasks and thoughts on our mind
We need to do the work – we need to practice, and write, and create but we also need to find ways to push past this feeling at the same time.
So how do we help children learn to work through this very real feeling of resistance?
First I would say to you as a parent to have empathy and realize it might not just be bad behavior behind the resistance you are seeing to getting started. Your child may be
feeling like they should practice and like it sounds like a horrible idea all at the same time.
As parents, you have the opportunity to coach them through that and help them develop skills to push through resistance to getting started on all sorts of things they will need to do in life.
As it turns out, one of the biggest ways to beat resistance according to Steven Pressfield’s book is also the same thing as the number one way parents reported they made practicing with their children work in the research I shared earlier this year (
read more here
The #1 Way to beat resistance: Being consistent and having a routine.
Every day at a certain time we get started
Every day we do something even if we don’t feel like it
Every day we put in a little work and push through the feelings that make us want to skip a day
– we may still not
like getting started once we have our routine down, but because it has become a habit we can quickly move through that feeling to actually doing the work.
I hear from parents all the time that it is far easier to get their child to practice with less of a struggle when there is a routine and the child knows practice will happen each day.
I know for myself and for many other professionals having a routine and being consistent is what helps me get my practice in on a regular basis still.
For many families this time of year is one of setting up new routines for the school year.
Maybe there is more resistance to getting started practicing because of getting settled into the new schedule.
Now is the time to set up your practice routine and build that consistency in.
It will help your child work through those feeling of wanting to resist getting started once you have that routine going which makes practice more pleasant for everyone involved.
I invite you to be both empathetic and committed to a regular practice routine. Those two things in combination will do wonders!