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Author Topic: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.  (Read 1589 times)

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Offline 917Girl

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Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« on: April 27, 2015, 08:12:38 PM »
Let me apologize in advance for the whining.

I love this forum and have been reading it silently for some time. You all are so kind and compassionate and always seem to know what to say. I guess I've finally decided to surrender to the insanity and reach out.

I'm an adult skater. I've been taking 2 30 minute lessons a week for the past 17 months. Since November I've stepped up my game and skate 5 days/week for a total of 10 hours/week. I've recently discovered I love the artistry of skating. And who knew, for a girl who never took any kind of dance classes, I've been told that I have "nice lines" and I have a graceful quality about my skating. So what's the problem?  Sadly, I'm a perfectionist. If I can't do it right, I tear myself to shreds. I am embarrassed to admit that I don't know how many real live tears of frustration I have shed over not being able get those darn BO edges or heaven forbid a FI 3 turn.   :(

And what's worse is the voice in my head obsessed with "what do other people think of me?"  I can waste the first 15 minutes of a public session hiding in the corner because I'm afraid of what someone is going to say about my crossovers or my attempts at a toe loop.  :-\

Lastly is the almighty fear of falling. I have been determined to get a one foot spin for some time now. Finally, 2 months ago I figured it out from a forward pivot. Nothing exciting...4, maybe 5 revs...I was so proud (even practiced them in the center of the rink!). Until one day I scatched my toe pick and came to a halt. It was apparently terrifying because my brain is convinced that I can no longer spin on one foot. So sad...back to zero...no more center of the rink!  ;)

I'm frustrated because the academic part of my brain says: 1.) It's not even been 18 months...be excited that you can do a mini-Salchow or spin even its only 1 revolution. 2.) Accept your new found gift of grace and musicality and simply say "thank you!" 3.) No one is looking at you anyway, skaters are too into themselves and working on their own journeys to pay attention to you.

But then comes the other side of my brain telling me what an idiot I am if I ever think this Salchow will get any height. Frustration that after what feels like a million FO3 turns they still don't have that graceful "flow" that other people seem to have. Mad that I had the brilliant foundation for a future scratch spin but because my brain has convinced my body its "too scary and I can't so it" I can sit on the ice for minutes willing myself to try one and its a no go.

It's frustrating knowing that I am getting in my own way. I can preach to others about "falling means your trying" and how hard skating is...but when it comes to myself?  Ugh. I love this sport. Kudos to all of you out there doing it!  I try to tell myself, if I just keep trying, no matter how ugly or "small" something looks today...3 months...6 months from now it HAS to look better!  Right?

A lot of whining...but thanks for listening. You guys rock!  Seriously!  :love:

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015, 08:34:06 PM »
Skating is a sport that gives us alot of time to think.  It sounds like you are thinking alot, perhaps too much.  Enjoy the music and skate.  To hell with everything else.

Jump height takes months and years.   Someone did a video on here of his waltz jump at 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years.  It was awesome to see.

Sometimes, the things we fret over are harder to get.    My case in point cleanly landing my flip and lutz jump.  I overthink it and have thunk myself out of it.   If I think too much, I won't even turn the jump in the air.     But,  a broken leg sitspin has come to me almost effortlessly in 2 weeks.  Why?  I'm just having fun with it and not fretting over it.   I'm calm and cool and just letting my blade do the spin.

And, many skaters are a little OCD or a lot.  It's not a bad thing.   If we weren't OCD, then we wouldn't take the years & years it takes to learn the sport.

So, just laugh at yourself.  Don't lose your sense of humor.   Take it easy and smile.  It will get better.  Oh, but skating never gets easier . . . you just get stronger.

Offline 917Girl

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2015, 08:54:40 PM »
Thanks. You are so right about the over thinking. Funny all the life lessons that can be taught through this journey called figure skating. Ok. Have fun. Enjoy the music. And just let the process happen. Check, check and check. Will let you know how it goes. Hugs!

Offline riley876

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2015, 08:55:05 PM »
If you gotta vent, you gotta vent.  That's what we're here for.

Who are you skating for?  i.e. Do you skate for the sensations of it?  Or do you skate for some hoped-for future acclaim of your peers?    If it's the exclusively the latter, you're lost.   So I suggest you focus on the former.

What feels good when you skate?  Not talking about what you think looks good or impressive, but what sort of stuff *feels* like you want to do it over and again and again, even if no one is around.   Ever had the feeling of music taking you over and setting your skating on fire?   Personally I live for that sort of stuff, when I can turn off the brain and just whizz/twirl/dance around with me more or less a passenger. 

Regarding your stalled progress.   Skating is like that.  You think you have something, but then it goes away leaving you wondering what the heck happened.   But if you can't simply reconstruct something in minutes, you never really had it in the first place.   So continually back to square one, and pick up all the missing pieces you've dropped along the way.  Such is the process of learning.

BTW: r.e. FO3 flow.  Suggest you look carefully at the timing of your knee bends/pushes.


Offline Christy

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2015, 09:54:29 PM »
I've yet to meet a skater who isn't a perfectionist  ;)
I'd suggest videoing yourself every few months so you can see how you are progressing. Even though you may think that a move isn't perfect you will see how it is actually improving. I've had blade / sharpening problems recently and feel like I've taken 10 steps backwards, but my OH saw me skate for the first time in a few months and commented on how much better some moves were.
I'd also say that sometimes taking a short break from a move that you are having problems with, such as your spin, can help you forget the negatives.

Offline 917Girl

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2015, 10:20:21 PM »
I had that feeling where the music took over my skating a few months ago.  AMAZING!  MESMERIZING!  Total A ha moment as they say. Needless to say, I was hooked. Addicted. Chasing that high. Sorry, didn't mean to compare figure skating to a heroin addiction. Maybe more like childbirth: possibly the most stressful thing I've ever done...but every time I see my kids smile I forget all the pain and think about how wonderful they are. :)

I like this idea of video taping myself. Thanks for the great advice. :)

Offline skategeek

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 06:33:00 AM »
I went through the same thing with backward one-foot glides- screeched to a halt the first time I tried one and it is taking me forever to get past that and be able to do them.  Slow improvement, though.  And with forward crossovers I hit a point where I could suddenly no longer do them unless my coach was holding my hand.  That went on for weeks and then I had a dream one night where I was doing beautiful crossovers one after another.  Went back to the rink and told the coach she wasn't allowed to hold my hand, and was back to doing (very clunky) crossovers on my own.  So maybe visualization of some sort would help?  Picture yourself doing the spin.  The advantage you have is that you've done them before so you know you can actually do them, you just have to convince your brain otherwise. 

Oh, and welcome to the forum!!  I spent about a decade living in SoCal… sad to hear about the serious drought there now.

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 06:37:29 PM »
As everyone else said, figure skating just tends to attract perfectionists.  It's like some sort of karmic curse, isn't it? I mean, this is the one sport that nobody seems to ever really perfect and it's the one we choose?  As other have also said, you probably aren't ever going to make it to the Olympics unless you buy a ticket, so you need to enjoy the process--even the frustrating parts.  Enjoy BEING a skater, because you already are one, and you share the same frustrations and occasional exhilirations as the top skaters in the world, regardless of whether it's over a 3-turn or a triple axel.  We just have to compare ourselves with those who aren't working on these things at all, or with ourselves before we started skating.  Progress may be slow, but imagine all the things you wouldn't be able to do if you hadn't started skating at all? 
By the way, you're right.  Nobody is watching you.  You are an object in their environment that they only notice if they are heading toward whatever spot you are inhabiting on the ice.  They are all too busy obsessing over their own frustrating elements that don't seem to be improving, LOL!
Now one final thought, and this has become my mantra:  "Even bad skating is good exercise."

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2015, 08:06:57 PM »
"Even bad skating is good exercise."

I'm going to use that one!

Offline techskater

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2015, 08:11:14 PM »
One of my coaches always tells me "if you don't practice what you're bad at or if you don't show me what you're bad at in a lesson, how is it going to get any better?"  He also says "nothing will EVER be perfect in this sport.  There will always be some correction to make  it better, so stop trying to be perfect".  These are very true and with finally embracing those statements, I have been able to forget about what other people think at the rink. F them if they are too busy watching me to do their own thing. 

Offline icedancer

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2015, 06:26:23 PM »

By the way, you're right.  Nobody is watching you.  You are an object in their environment that they only notice if they are heading toward whatever spot you are inhabiting on the ice.  They are all too busy obsessing over their own frustrating elements that don't seem to be improving, LOL!


I love this and it is so true!!  I started having a really hard time about 5 years ago and couldn't do ANYTHING (I used to be pretty good and bold skater and I turned into a wimp IMHO) - my skating friends just couldn't see it!  They would say things like, "No, you look just the same" - maybe they were just being nice but honestly now I think they just had never looked before and weren't really looking now - love it!

Also the comment about the coach picking on you no matter what (I think it was techskater) - that is how I always feel about my coach - nothing is ever right and if it is there is always something else for her to pick on.  I had my lesson today and realized that's why I was paying her and yes, I am getting better!!  It just doesn't feel that way sometimes.

It sounds like the Original Poster has picked the perfect sport for obsessiveness.

Offline fsk8r

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 11:05:11 PM »

Also the comment about the coach picking on you no matter what (I think it was techskater) - that is how I always feel about my coach - nothing is ever right and if it is there is always something else for her to pick on.  I had my lesson today and realized that's why I was paying her and yes, I am getting better!!  It just doesn't feel that way sometimes.

It sounds like the Original Poster has picked the perfect sport for obsessiveness.

And the coach is also a perfecionist. I've learn that when they start fussing about the little finger I must be doing it right! They'd run out of big things to correct! And when they say something's not bad, they mean it's really really good.


Offline karne

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2015, 03:39:31 AM »
They say that professional ballet dancers will break down in tears if there comes a day when the teacher does NOT criticise them - because it means that the teacher no longer thinks they are worth improving. So look at it positively! It is likely that your coach seems harder on you because they see more potential in you than the others.
"Three months in figure skating is nothing. Three months is like 5 minutes in a day. 5 minutes in 24 hours - that's how long you've been working on this. And that's not long at all. You are 1000% better than you were 5 minutes ago." -- My coach

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Offline amy1984

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2015, 07:19:29 AM »
First, you are paying a coach to teach you things.  So, naturally, there will be some critique, although you are certainly free to choose a style of it that suits you best.

Second, skating is hard.  The learning curve can be steep in places.  Don't beat yourself up.  I would be lying if I said I'd never cried over skating, but in all honestly, if we are crying over skating, we're taking it a little too seriously.  This is supposed to be fun!

Try listening to music if they play it at the rink.  And don't take yourself too seriously.

One thing I do if I have a bad practice is do something well before I leave.  This doesn't mean I beat a jump to death until it's perfect.  I choose something I know I do well purposefully and go and do it before I leave.  I usually choose a nice big waltz jump or a scratch spin.  Your best element could be some footwork, a field move, whatever.  I find it useful to leave on a good note.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2015, 11:38:10 AM »
They say that professional ballet dancers will break down in tears if there comes a day when the teacher does NOT criticise them - because it means that the teacher no longer thinks they are worth improving. So look at it positively! It is likely that your coach seems harder on you because they see more potential in you than the others.

This reminds me when I was a kid - I was in a group number where we had to do waltz jumps in the opposite direction to what most of us did naturally because the one CW skater couldn't do a CCW jump.  That always made me mad but when I mentioned this incident to my current coach she said that they probably figured that you could do it and that she never would be able to do the jump in the opposite direction.

And then last night in Theater on Ice class all of the choreo was in my "bad" direction - but you know, I could do it and figured the coach must have had a reason and she figured I could do it (no matter how uncomfortable it made me!).

And yeah, skating is hard. But just enjoy the ride (and the glide) - that is really what it is all about!

Offline riley876

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2015, 07:34:55 PM »
I know I've already chipped in my 2c, but I have been thinking about this quite a lot (lol, obsessive myself? ha, never!), so I've had a few more thoughts.   I hope this isn't all too obvious or condescending, but here goes anyway:

It seems the root of the issue is one of emotional control ("the mental game" as it is sometimes referred) .   You're clearly aware that these emotional responses aren't conducive to actual progress,  but it sounds like you're lacking effective tactics to deal with these responses.

There's two parts of the brain that matter here,  the limbic system, which creates the emotional responses, and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is where thought and executive function comes from.    In adults, when developed, the prefrontal cortex can act to dampen the limbic system.  e.g. when you're watching a scary movie, you don't actually get fully scared, because your PFC can shut down the limbic system enough, so you don't actually panic etc.   Little kids on the other hand can get PROFOUNDLY affected by scary movies, giving them nightmares etc etc,  because the PFC is not well developed before adulthood.

But even in adults, it's just like a muscle.  It needs to be activated, trained and refined to be effective.

One hard bit is remembering when to use it, in the heat of the moment:  "Aha! I'm feeling embarrassed, this must be a good time to use my PFC!" .   Maybe need to work on this off-ice too.  e.g. watch TV News, and every time you find yourself experiencing a negative emotional reaction, think "this would be a good time to use my PFC to get back to neutral emotions".   It's a game of retaining self awareness.    Essentially spotting when you're getting wound up and stepping back from that.

If you reduce emotions to their physical components (e.g. some emotions cause tightness around the eyes, or nervousness classically causes "butterflies")  then you can abstract the emotion to the point of meaninglessness,  at which point it will cease to have any power.   

If you can become "perfect" at controlling your emotions, you will become a better skater.   So focus your perfectionism on that instead of directly on the skating!   

Really, its just yet another part of the sport that you've got to work on.   Developed and trained like everything else.

Offline ls99

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2015, 09:35:14 PM »
I've yet to meet a skater who isn't a perfectionist  ;) .........


Obviously you have never met or seen ls99. Skates purely for personal entertainment. Some perfectionist onlookers find my skating cringe worthy, some entertaining.
There must be moderation in everything. Including moderation.

Offline 917Girl

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2015, 06:49:19 PM »
Thanks Riley876. We all know that a huge part of this sport is mental yet we seem to just accept that as fact and move on. Do I accept the fact that I'm terrified of a RFI three turn?  No...I am working on it everyday. (Happy to say that terror has now subsided into intense dislike). You are right, if I can work for months on a technical element, I should be able to put the same focus on the mental elements of this sport. Just like I need to teach my body how to balance on the ice in certain positions, I guess I need to take the time to teach my brain to "balance " as well. So, thank you for that reminder!

Also, I loved that quote from someone's coach (karne?): Three months in figure skating is nothing. It's like five minutes in 24 hours.      So true! So true!

Thanks everyone!! :)

Offline Feebee

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Re: Perfectionist having a hard time not getting in her own way.
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2015, 01:52:04 PM »
Had to chime in here as I posted a similar rant a while back and find myself thinking of certain helpful responses.

I skate on semi-private sessions and the other skaters are all adults, all very advanced. It's hard for me to not just stand and gawk at them enviously, and just as hard to overcome my embarrassment that I'm still practicing backward one foot glides. I hear you on the not wanting to practice when people are watching you, but then I remind myself that everyone starts somewhere. I *might* not improve this practice session, but  I *definitely* won't improve if I stand on the sidelines.

The most helpful response I got on these forums, which has almost become my mantra, is that it takes a thousand times to learn something once, another thousand to lose it, and another thousand to regain it.

I tell myself this when I'm on my 40th FO-3 (from a standstill I might add) and I'm *still* not holding the free foot up after the turn, or I'm using my hip to rise up instead of my knee, etc. (Seriously, my brain will just chant "A thousand times to learn it, a thousand times to lose it", and I'll get back on the horse and do it again).