• I’ll never be good enough because I just wasn’t born with natural talent.
  • I am going to suck at this performance because I just don’t have what it takes.
  • I really blew that solo, I’m such a loser.
  • My hands are too small so I just can’t do it.

Any of these sound familiar to you?

This kind of negative self talk is going to stress you out and wear you down over time. Ultimately it will rob you of the simple joy that playing an instrument can bring you.

The good news is, you have the ability to change these thoughts. You can develop a new attitude, a mindset of success that allows you to face challenges so that you can learn and grow as a musician. As opposed to fearing failure and the constant pressure of needing to be “perfect” all the time. This new way of thinking is called a growth mindset.

What Is It? Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that success is a result of effort, persistence, and learning through trial and error. Those with a growth mindset are motivated by learning and growth. They reach out to others when they need help. They will try new strategies and if whatever they try doesn’t work out, they try something else until they reach their desired goal. People who adopt a growth mindset are more resilient, harder working and achieve greater success than those of the fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is a belief that you are born with the exact amount of talent and smarts that you will ever have and that amount can never be changed. Those with a fixed mindset are afraid to take risks or ask for help because that would be a sign of weakness to them. Making a mistake means that they are a failure and it ‘proves’ that they really aren’t smart or talented. A fixed mindset means you are stuck in perfectionism.

Don’t worry, there’s more good news! You can overcome fixed mindset thoughts and develop a success oriented mindset with these four steps.

  1. Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts

Everyone has fixed mindset thoughts in one area or another. Pay attention to what situations triggers the fixed mindset thoughts. Perhaps you notice your thoughts turning more negative when you start comparing yourself to other musicians or when you’re practicing a new technique that is harder than you expected or you are on stage performing. Be conscious of your inner dialogue. Things like: ’I’ll never be good enough’, ‘it’s too hard, I’ll never get it,’ ‘I just don’t have what it takes, I quit.’ Create a list of all this garbage talk so you can start being aware of it and aware of when your thoughts start to spiral out of control.

  1. Commit To Change

Now that you are aware of your negative self talk and what triggers it, the next step is committing to changing your beliefs about yourself.

One way you can do this is to remind yourself of what is true while thinking about the musician you want to become. For example, lets say that you just had an ‘off day’ practicing and are frustrated and ready to throw the guitar across the room. You are thinking all kinds of self deprecating thoughts and beating yourself up for the bad job you did. Remind yourself of what is real and about the musician you are becoming. Things like:

  • One tough day of practice doesn’t make me a failure
  • When I have a bad day, I work really hard and I don’t give up
  • I enjoy a challenge
  • I am committed to figuring this out
  • I had a great week of practice last week so I know I can do this

Another way you can transform your belief in yourself is by reminding yourself of your success in the past. Keep a success journal so you can look back on your accomplishments and also remind yourself that your success came from hard work, learning from mistakes, resilience and persistence!

  1. Replace Negative With Positive 

The next step is replacing the fixed mindset thoughts with growth mindset thoughts. Remember the list you made in Step 1 of all the fixed mindset thoughts you have? Now go through all of those negative statements and replace them with positive, growth oriented statements. Now every time the negative thoughts crop up in your head, let that trigger you to replace those thoughts with something more positive that will empower you towards reaching your goal.

  1. Take Action!

Once you are committed to changing to a growth mindset, it is time to take action. What does this look like? 

  • If you hit a rough patch, keep going and don’t give up
  • Give yourself a break and clear your mind (call a friend, get coffee, exercise).
  • Get help from your teacher! Ask questions about how you can improve and form new strategies to overcome any obstacles in your way.

Taking these steps to change your mindset will transform your playing and so many other countless areas of your life. Just like improving your playing takes practice, so do these four steps. Keep going and don’t give up!

About The Author: Ryan Duke is a professional musician, guitar teacher. Find out more at guitar lessons Franklin, TN.