From time to time I get stuck with my guitar playing.
No matter how many guitar students I’ve taught, no matter how many articles I have written, no matter how much I have practiced, every few months I feel like I got stuck.
I feel like I am not improving, lacking direction, running in circles.
No motivation, no inspiration, no will.
It’s like hitting a brick wall.
When it happened in the past, it always caught me off guard. I felt frustrated and angry.
But here’s the funny thing.
As I got older (and maybe little wiser, or at least more experienced), I started to treat these episodes of hopelessness as a signal. A signal that something is not working properly.
The more it happened, the more I started to understand it.
Now I know that no matter how smart do I try to look, eventually I will get stuck again. I will question my direction and everything I do. I will feel down. And a little bit confused.
And that’s ok because now I know that it is all part of the process of becoming better and better on guitar. And I also know how to handle it.
If you are anything like me and from time to time feel the same frustration as I do, today I would like to show you, how you can escape it.
Read on …
If you are stuck and frustrated, ask yourself this question
There is this strange thing about us humans.
We are not satisfied with something and yet we keep doing the same things over and over again and wondering why do we get the same results.
And guitar players are no exception.
We tend to overlook the areas of our playing that need improvement the most and instead focus on things that we are already good at.
Yes, I know. It is easier to work on our strengths than weaknesses.
But when the reality check comes knocking on our door, we are not very happy with the results.
I’ve realized this few years ago.
I was really unsatisfied with my lead playing and yet I spent almost no time trying to improve it. I mean, I tried a little bit but it was not like I really wanted to solve that problem. I never made lead playing my main focus but this didn’t stop me from complaining about it.
I know it may sound crazy, but I am sure you have similar experience.
I also started to notice similar trend among other guitar players. It was fascinating to me how irrational and blind we are when it comes to our own actions or in-actions.
Then it finally hit me.
When you are depressed and frustrated about your guitar playing, the key is to not ignore it. It happened for a reason.
That frustration is a signal for you that something is not right, something is not working. If you ignore this signal, you are losing an opportunity to get better.
I realized that if I want to see progress in my playing, I can use that dissatisfaction to show me what I need to work on.
Now, whenever I feel that I am stuck, frustrated about my lack of skills or unsatisfied, there is one question that always helps me. I stop and ask myself:
What is the #1 thing that frustrates me about my guitar playing?
That question is simple but very powerful. It always reveals what’s not working in my guitar practice. The moment I ask this question, my brain will readily give me the answer.
And usually it is the one I don’t want to hear.
Sometimes I over-focus on one part of my guitar playing (say technique) because it is comfortable for me and then I get frustrated that I neglect something else (ear-training).
Other times I get frustrated because I feel like I am not putting enough time into my practice and not improving at a rate I would like to.
But once I know where’s the problem, everything becomes easier because now I can at least develop a plan how to fix it. By becoming aware of the problem, you can start looking for possible solutions.
How you can use this?
When you feel like something is not right with your guitar playing, don’t run away. Don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend that it’s not there. Acknowledge it. This gives you the opportunity to make adjustments.
You need to understand that what frustrates you the most about your guitar playing is what you should be focusing on. To improve that area should be your #1 priority.
So just stop what you are doing and take a honest look at yourself and ask yourself what frustrates you about your current level of playing. Take a pen and piece of paper and reflect on your current guitar problems.
Why am I frustrated about my guitar playing? What’s #1 skill that I need to improve? Why do I feel stuck? What’s missing in my playing?
From my own experience I know that once I stop and reflect, the reasons of my frustration reveal themselves very fast. And once I know what’s causing the havoc, my mental state improves almost immediately.
I believe that no matter what you are struggling with as a guitar player, there is a solution to your problem. There are many players who’ve been in similar situations and found ways how to overcome them. You can too.
The key is to learn from your frustrations and make adjustments. Over time this approach will lead to superior results.
Now I am curious: What is the #1 thing that frustrates you about your guitar playing right now?
Leave a comment or shoot me an email.
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