Emotional Intelligence Improved my Musical Pursuit and Life Part 2

Attribute #23: Engages in activities that bring joy, peace, and contentment.

How am I so burnt out from doing nothing? This was the top question on my mind the past 6 months. I would have killed for just a day off before COVID, so why is this turning into a negative thing? Short answer, I was trying to work on everything and accomplishing, what seemed like, nothing.

I have a bad habit of getting in a mindset that if I fail to accomplish x amount of tasks, I don’t feel like I deserve a break from working. You can probably imagine how detrimental that would be when stuck in a house all day every day. When quarantine initially started I was thinking “Yes! I now have all of this time to practice. Time to set all of these [unrealistic] goals and get to work immediately!” It wasn’t all bad. I was able to explore various warm up routines, learn pieces I hadn’t had the chance to, and my playing did improve. I was neglecting one important aspect of improving thought; taking a break.

I never needed more time for practicing. Truth is, I needed to learn more efficient practice techniques. The practice routine I had developed for quarantine was not sustainable and left me frustrated and exhausted by week 3. Looking back, I just want to slap myself awake because instead of then taking a break, I told myself this was typical burn out and it would get better in about a week. So I pushed through harder! Please learn from my mistakes!

Here’s where learning about emotional intelligence comes in. One attribute of Emotional Intelligence is essentially self care. When taking the Emotional Intelligence Survey I had to rate all of these different attributes. One being “Engages in activities that bring joy, peace, and contentment.” I am REALLY bad at this. I am very much a goal oriented and career forward person, so those sorts of activities equate to less focus on my goals in my head. These thoughts, of course, then spiral to falling behind and not making progress resulting in failure. Great mindset, right?

What I’ve learned is that my emotional intelligence for myself is quite low, and that is ultimately limiting my true full potential. When focusing on these activities that bring joy, peace, and contentment you’re not only taking care of yourself, you are refreshing your mind and approaching your work with a fresh and new perspective. You’re opening yourself up to alternate ways. You’re more willing to take risks and be vulnerable because you’re showing yourself love and that radiates in every outward interaction you then have.

I’ve found when focusing on self care, my relationships are better, my practice is more focused and efficient, I am more confident, and the list goes on. I read a tweet the other day that said this “Mental shift: I’m not behind or unproductive. I’m doing as much as my mind and body are allowing me to do under perpetual stress and fatigue.” What powerful mental shift! One could argue self-care is more important now than ever.

So why was I so burnt out from doing nothing? Simple, I wasn’t doing nothing. I was doing everything and desperately needed a break that I wasn’t allowing myself to have. I’ve since learned to stop being so work oriented and focus on being the best version of myself. It, in return, has improve all aspects of life, including my clarinet playing.

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