The Conscious Actor: Stop Holding Back

 

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The juicy things in life come with a price. To feel the elation of being on a mountaintop, you’ve got to endure the vigorous climb up. Falling in love comes with the risk of getting a broken heart. Playing it safe and putting all your energy in feeling comfortable is a sure way to miss out on life’s adventures. As Diane Ackerman, poet, essayist, and naturalist says, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

As actors, if you’re more invested in not making a fool of yourself than you are in reaching your full potential, your performances will feel safe and not very exhilarating. If Jane Fonda worried about the snot dripping from her nose in Klute, she never would’ve given us that incredible Academy Award winning performance.

Fear can be tricky. Sometimes when it’s knee deep and you’ve built a life of avoidance, you’re not even aware of what you’re missing. Don’t let your fear bully you around. It’s never too late to get back on track.

Here are 5 tips that will keep you in there when you want to run:

  1. Be your own best friend. When you are committed to change, make sure that your state of mind is not to throw yourself away in order to become something better. Self-improvement is about building up and adding to something wonderful that’s already inside you. Some days, you will be in the zone and other days you will be on another planet, but through it all, never abandon or judge yourself. You are simply expanding the goodness that is already a part of you. Let go of any self-judgment and instead become curious and open about yourself. Replace self-criticism with kind honesty, gentleness, and good-heartedness. Your goal is to seek some clarity and self-understanding; you don’t have to rip yourself apart in order to obtain that.
  2. Let’s face it, no matter how much you seek security and predictability, the truth is that life is inherently unpredictable. You can’t avoid uncertainty. Not knowing makes us afraid, but it is also part of the adventure. When you accept this reality, you will find yourself running towards your challenges instead of away from them. Next time you feel doubt and want to run ask yourself, “Do I want to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?”
  3. Use difficult emotions such as disappointment, irritation, jealousy, fear, and embarrassment as markers that show you where you’re getting stuck and holding back. This is how you can begin to make changes in how you show up on a daily basis. Everything is used to learn, the good and the bad. When the red flag goes up, you have an opportunity to learn about what’s going on inside you. Sticking with your emotions is how you will learn to relax in the midst of chaos, be cool when the ground beneath you gets shaky.
  4. Be your own best friend. When you are committed to change, make sure that your mind’s state is not to throw yourself away in order to become something better. Self-improvement is about building up and adding to something wonderful that’s already inside you. Some days, you will be in the zone and other days you will be on another planet, but through it all, never abandon or judge yourself. You are simply expanding the goodness that is already a part of you. Let go of any self-judgment and instead become curious and open about yourself. Replace self-criticism with kind honesty, gentleness, and good-heartedness. Your goal is to seek some clarity and self-understanding; you don’t have to rip yourself apart in order to obtain that.
  5. Think Big. When you get stuck in microscopic views of how things should be, step back and see the whole picture. Try and catch your mind when it hardens into fixed views. Do your best to soften your beliefs. When you soften, the barriers will come down. Relax. It’s not life or death. Learning how to calm down will make you better equipped to deal with things just as they are, not how you would like them to be.

Stop trying to control the uncontrollable and start controlling how you choose to show up in your life. Change won’t happen overnight, it will happen gradually at your own speed. If you have the courage to face your fear with open honesty, you can shine a light on any area of darkness within you.


I’ve created The Conscious Actor Inspiration Journal; to help actors develop awareness of what inspires them. Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to help keep you strong minded. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Samuel French Bookshop

Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.

Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, so that they can feel happiness, fulfillment and joy in their everyday lives. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website.

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