"Awareness of what is without judgement is relaxing and is the best precondition for change."
—Timothy Gallwey from The Inner Game of Tennis
The without judgement part is the real key to the above quote. Any time I catch myself using the word should I know I am going down a dangerous (or at the very least not helpful) path.
I should be more prepared for this recital.
I should have this piece memorized by now.
I should already have a gig.
I should have my lesson plans done for tomorrow.
The problem with judgement is that it focuses on something that can't be controlled or changed, the past. And focusing on something that can't be changed is not a good precursor for change.
And yet awareness is incredibly vital. Without knowing what your blind spot is as a conductor, a bassoon player or an entrepreneur, you have very little chance of improving it.
So be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can't do and yet be kind to yourself and accept what has already happened (or not happened!) as exactly what it is, done.
Perhaps my favorite quote of all time sums this up perfectly:
"You have to abandon all hope for a better past."