IMG_5656So now you play the oboe, or at least are headed in that direction! You have your oboe in great working order, a decent supply of working reeds, your music, private lessons, a place to practice. All is in order and you are set up for success, right? Not so fast! You also need one more thing: to possess a healthy attitude towards yourself before anything can really come together. You need to take responsibility for your growth and development!


Taking responsibility means controlling your actions, consistently behaving your way to success, not blaming others for your problems, seeing where you contribute to a situation, being “growth-oriented” as well as understanding the benefits of the personal process you are involved in. Additionally, not only are you accountable for your actions but you are also accountable for your reactions to your actions as well as your reactions to the actions of others. This means that you, and only you, have control over these things and nobody else. Eventually, you become able to rise above your personal forms of resistance (the enemy of growth and responsibility) so that you can then enjoy the rewards of your healthy actions! The beautiful thing is that playing your oboe can help you with all of this!


Over time, the payoffs for your taking responsibility are tremendous! You learn to approach your practice and performance in a constructive manner to nip any destructive behaviors in the butt, sometimes before they even become a problem. In the end, I guarantee you that you will feel great, that you will feel like you have accomplished a tremendous amount, that you have overcome any obstacles and feel lighter as a result of moving towards GROWTH. This lightness of being acquired from all of your personal growth translates into happiness. And, who doesn’t want to be happy?


With this joy and happiness in mind, take this challenge: try being responsible for three weeks with one specific area of your playing to see where it gets you. For example: every time you pick up your oboe make sure that as you play your fingers are curved and you use light finger pressure. Constantly check in to see that you don’t squeeze your oboe as you play. Begin and end your practice sessions with very mindful playing in a mirror while watching your fingers to make sure they are curved and you hear no (or minimal) clicking of the keys. Maneuver them very close to the keys and don’t allow them to stick out like antennas. Learn to control your fingers by using Simple Attentive Movements (SAM). When you play with SAM you will be teaching yourself to play more effectively, with more accuracy and ultimately with more speed.


It is said that it generally takes a good three weeks to get rid of an old behavior and adapt a new one. Whatever your old behavior is you are now giving a new and improved behavior a chance to grow, develop and gain enough strength to survive on its own. Pretty soon, you won’t even behave the old way any more. Try this approach on for size and see where it gets you. But stick to the plan, don’t allow yourself to become distracted and give up too soon. Behave your way to success through consistent reinforcement of the new behaviors and actions. Apply lots of patience and, VOI-LA!, you have a new and improved way of playing your oboe! Allow yourself lots of room to grow with all of the patience that you can muster up. Don’t allow negative thoughts or impatience to creep in and ruin everything for you! Don’t give up too soon into your process. Be aware that if you teeter-totter between the old and new behaviors then the old one still has a good grip on you. Learn to let it go and really try this exercise for a good three weeks. Over time, you will be amazed at how fast you can begin to learn new things!


Some other examples of old behaviors might be that you only practice your oboe a day before your rehearsal/lesson/performance/exam and avoid playing the rest of the week. This is known as cramming: when a time-honored process of growth is sacrificed for avoidance and stress. Another would be that you only practice when your parents tell you to do so. Or how about when you actually do practice you only practice what “feels good” and avoid all of the other parts of your assignments. All of these behaviors did actually serve a function at some point in your life. But at this point, you really need to understand that they are no longer serving you and really need to go! Having an old, unhealthy behavior lying around is like not taking out the garbage: after a while it piles up, stinks, draws all kinds of nasty rodents (other bad behaviors) and crowds out your space until nothing else can exist. Eventually, you have to remove the trash to keep you home healthy and spacious just like you eventually practice to keep away all kinds of bad behaviors.


Only you can decide as to what old behaviors need to go and when they go! Only you can decide when you can take charge by taking responsibility for your own growth and development. Nobody, but YOU! So, take control of yourself, take control of your growth and be responsible towards yourself.


With all of this considered, take a moment to define your old behaviors, the ones that have served you well so far but have come to show their limitations. This will be clear when you think about all of the things that hold you back from growth. They are essentially all related to the things that you avoid and resist.


Now, see if you can understand why these things might be good for you. If the only reason is that they are making you learn about responsibility, then that is a start. If you can see a particular way as to how they are helping you to grow, then even better. If you can comprehend the very specific thing that they are helping you with in a much larger process then you’ve got it. This deeper level of understanding will eventually help you to grow out of your old and unwanted behaviors. By knowing where you are coming from and what you wish to grow into is a great tool to help you be your new self.


Now, let’s apply all of this to playing your oboe. Your basic needs are as follows: having a good instrument to play, having decent reeds that function well, having music to play and a space to play in as well as lessons from someone to show you how its done. Your parents have provided that for you. But now it’s your turn to “show up” for your growth by taking appropriate actions. Eventually, you do not rely upon them to do everything for you! In other words, you have to practice your assignments, practice the music that you are given, and play your oboe…not them! Don’t make them responsible to tell you that it’s time to practice. Don’t make them responsible to tell you that you need to practice longer amounts or in a certain productive way. PRACTICE UNTIL ALL OF YOUR NEEDS ARE MET! Don’t make your parents have to provide the responsibility for you…results with this approach can be very painful and upsetting to everyone. Instead, take the bull by the horns and play…and enjoy…and grow! You will definitely reap the rewards if you apply yourself. It’s a beautiful thing when you grow, especially when you play beautiful music on your oboe!


All of this sounds great…and feels great too! However, there will come a day when you will resist your growth again. It’s part of the human condition to experience resistance. Understanding how resistance works, especially when it veers its ugly head, will help you overcome it. Often, resistance can show up, but this time in other areas of your life that may be unrelated to your desired areas of growth and evolution.


Let’s define what your personal resistances look like. Some simple forms of resistance are repetitive behaviors where you actually escape from your life for a while. Is there something that you like to do to excess, like play video games? Or how about watch lots of TV? Larger forms of resistance come in the form of temper tantrums: screaming, hitting/kicking, slamming things and throwing things around. YIKES! Is that the best way to be present in your world and take responsibility for yourself? Certainly not! We do all of these at various points in our lives. Sure, it’s important to take a break from life from time to time, but is it good to do this more often than not? In the end, you simply are avoiding all of the healthy things necessary for you to become your authentic self.


Can you think of things that you do in excess when you are resisting doing something else that may be good for you? I’m sure you can come up with a list of at least 5 things that you do when you are in resistance mode. Try it as an exercise. Make your list and then write it on a large sheet of paper in large thick print! Then hang it on your wall where you can easily see it. Label it as “MY FORMS OF RESISTANCE”, or “MY UGLY SIDE” so that you can clearly see it from afar. Come up with a fun name for it if you wish. If you have any doubts as to what your forms of resistance are then just ask your family or friends, they will tell you because they see it more easily then you do. They will very lovingly inform you!


Forgetfulness is one of the biggest forms of resistance. “Oh, I didn’t do that task because I just forgot!” How many times have you said that, even after constant reminders from your parents or friends? How frustrating is it for someone else to have to constantly remind you about something. Forgetfulness is the biggest form of resistance at any age. Are there ways that you can remember more easily? I’m sure you can think of several. Personally, I am a visual learner and I need to see something to remind me. I need to have my oboe out sometimes to remind me to practice, with the music on top that I need to work on. Or, I need to put something out on the table by the front door if I need to remember to take something with me. Other times, I have to write a list and keep it in a place that I will see often. Sometimes, I put a note to myself on my bathroom mirror, or in unexpected places, like inside the refrigerator, all to remind myself to do something. Can you come up with a creative place that you see everyday to leave yourself a note to remember something, like your underwear drawer? Most importantly, try to realize why you have resistance to a certain actively. Once you are in touch with the emotional side of things and realize that there is an underlying feeling that you may need to examine then the resistance will soon pass. Explore your thoughts and feelings to see where they take you. Pretty soon you will start to overcome your personal forms of resistance, guaranteed!


And finally, beware of yet an even bigger form of resistance: PROCRASTINATION! The longer you put off doing something the harder it is to remember or get the motivation to do the task (the one that is actually good for you). The longer you wait the more your negative thinking settles in to steer you away from your growth and development. The longer you wait the more you build up stress…sometimes, high amounts of it! Do you find that you are addicted to the patterns of building up stress? Do you use procrastination to build up your motivation? Instead, learn to follow your impulses: when you think of practicing then do it, either immediately or in the very, very near future. Get your tasks out of the way so they don’t clog your brain. Think of practicing as a way of taking out the mental trash and preventing trash piles from building up in your head. This way your brain is really available for the next task at hand, or better yet, more happiness. Create space within yourself for more happiness…all done by immediately following what your impulses. You will feel good that you have practiced and clear-headed when you go to the next activity. How can you not be happy about that?


Be aware that resistance is usually strongest right before we are about to overcome a lesson and master something new. This should be a big signal to you! If you recognize that you are experiencing a very strong resistance within yourself then you need to know that you are just on the verge of understanding something…you are about to GET IT! Your resistance wants you to give up and pushes really hard one final time to get you not to grow. Your resistance wants to control not only your thinking but your actions and reactions as well! Instead, persevere until you overcome that ugly resistance. You will be rewarded by personal growth and development in the end.


BElieve in YOUrself…Be the best self that you can be in all of the magnificence of your existence! BE YOU! Learn to use your approach to your oboe to become that best self. Everything that you can learn about yourself you can do through playing your oboe!   Celebrate yourself by taking responsibility for your growth and development!