“Then you shall judge yourself,” the king answered, “that is the most difficult thing of all…” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

As we strive to work in a world built on self-image, talent and technical ability, we are confronted with criticism on a daily basis. We are placed in a judgmental environment, in order for ourselves to be challenged and the piece and art to be developed and created.

But as we progress through school and into the professional world you begin to understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Constructive consists of benefit, encouraging to improve. Where as destructive criticism is negative and heavy.

Ofcourse we must always try to take external criticism as constructive, when it is our teacher, director, choreographer, colleague or classmate encouraging more from us. With a trained eye, we cannot help but evaluate what is in front of us on stage.

However, it can be easy to judge others, and use it in a way to avoid self- evaluation. Pointing out the ‘‘faults’’ in someone else can act as an escape route to feel better about ourselves. It is in many professions I am sure, but somehow in the dance and art world it is quite prominent. The most difficult criticism of all, is our own self- judgement.

Therefore, instead of fixating on what others are doing, we need to concentrate on our own self, to evaluate what is positive in our presence and work, and what is needed to be improved. This takes courage and practice. Having a realistic perspective of yourself and having grip on your own thoughts will make you feel grounded and calmly confident.
Our self judgement can go in the completely wrong direction, as we can be our own worst enemy of negative thought, weighing down our shoulders with negative self-doubt and over-evaluation. This is not the solution either. It is a fine line and we must constantly re-examine our thoughts and actions to make sure we are in balance.

We cannot escape our own thoughts, so we have to learn how to deal with them! Then we can lower our shield and be strong enough to take what is being thrown at us. In the end, it is your choice to take it or leave it, as you decide how to stand on your own two feet.

-Madeline

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