For many of the dancers I work with, comparison is a major hurdle. Often, the advice around comparison is this: just stop doing it. However, emotional researchers have discovered that comparison is automatic. You can’t turn it off. So, it’s much more impactful to consider how you respond to comparison and how you can turn it into something else.

Recently, a new client told me she was “turning comparison into support for other dancers.” How beautiful is that? Inspired by her win, I wanted to share some ways for you to make the same shift with comparison.

Notice when you compare.

Awareness is key. Begin to build awareness of when comparison comes up for you. Are you targeting specific people or things when you compare? Is it about body size or shape? Is it about technical ability or natural facilities?

Notice if comparison is coming up more in certain classes or with certain teachers. Your environment and the energy around you can impact how much or how often you compare. As you start to build the awareness around when your mind shifts into comparison, do some writing. Journaling is one of the most powerful tools dancers can use to improve their mental awareness and strength.

Some things that might exacerbate comparison are new environments, being around new teachers, and being in class with different dancers. So you might experience a surge in comparison if you start in a new school or company or if you’re at a summer intensive.

Record observations about your comparative thoughts without judgment. It’s just information. 

The fact that you get stuck in comparison doesn’t make you bad, it makes you human.

Consider your own gifts.

It’s so sad to think about this, but for dancers, recognizing your own gifts is one of the biggest struggles. You’re trained to see your flaws and the things you have to “fix,” so you aren’t usually looking for what’s going well.

Check out this related post :   Adrienne's growth through support and hard work.

I encourage the dancers I work with to write down after each class what went well.

Beyond what went well on a given day, what are your personal gifts as a person and dancer? Maybe you’re a hard worker, you’re exceptionally focused, you pay close attention to the teacher and corrections. Those are all things you should acknowledge about yourself. Turn them into a mantra — I am a hard worker — and repeat it to yourself any time you’re feeling stuck in comparison.

Shift comparison to admiration and support.

Instead of looking at your fellow dancers and thinking, They have perfect extensions and mine are terrible, turn that into admiration and support. Shift the thought to Wow, look at their beautiful extensions. Notice how they’re using their body to achieve the line and ask yourself what you might apply to your own body.

When you find yourself comparing, you might even give the person a compliment. Rather than using your observation to tear yourself down, channel it into support for your fellow dancers. You have a lot of power to create a positive working environment for yourself. How might things feel if you lean into support?

Commit to the process.

Like a lot of the work I do with dancers, shifting your thoughts isn’t an overnight adjustment. It’s a process and it takes commitment; however, I found it super inspiring that the dancer who noticed this mental shift was only 4 weeks into our work together. This mental shift with comparison has her feeling more confident, self-assured, and ready to move to the front of the studio in her classes. 

Just imagine what’s possible for her through the course of her 6-month program.

Imagine what’s possible for you with support to work through your comparative thoughts in productive ways. It’s not about ignoring them. I’ll never tell you to just turn them off because I know that’s not possible. You’ll learn to replace, redirect, and shift into support for yourself and others.
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Dancers: Turn Comparison Into This

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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