The Conscious Actor

Aug 05

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Get ready for your big break

Every actor dreams of having someone recognize their talent and giving them, “The Big Break.”  The long-awaited opportunity of a lifetime that launches their career. Hello fame and fortune, goodbye struggle and anonymity. No more listening to that recurrent inner voice echoing before each audition, “Maybe this time it will happen, someone in that room will say yes.” Those days are over. I have finally arrived!

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.17.58 AMActors yearn to be recognized, valued and given the opportunity to do what they love, act. Every day is about turning that dream into a reality. To stay on a steady course towards success, you’ve got to have plenty of self-belief. Confidence is a required when asking others to go out on a limb for you. They will not only be putting their reputations on the line, but also investing time, money and effort into you. It takes moxie to ask for that kind of trust. Do you have enough self-confidence to make them feel comfortable about taking a chance on you?

The greatest obstacles to success are not the ones thrown on your path from the outside world, they are the ones you create in your own mind. You’ve got to learn how to handle internal obstacles so you don’t fumble when the “Big Break,” finally comes along. Your inner world has to be in tip-top form. That means knowing yourself inside out. Knowing when and how to build yourself up and avoid the self-criticism that will only tear you down.  You’ve got to be able to walk into a room surefooted and comfortable in your skin.   By accepting yourself and fully being who you are, your presence will make others feel comfortable being around you. You can’t accomplish that by faking it. It’s got to be authentic. The hard work of developing self-trust will enable others to trust you.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.18.11 AMConfidence is simply accepting yourself exactly as you are right now, including your imperfections, and still believing that you’re worthy of respect, love and acceptance at the end of the day. Is that you? If not, take a tip from the Olympic athletes who know how to train their mental muscle. They understand the concept of mental preparation and work with Sports Psychologists (A licensed mental health professional who helps athletes improve their performance by identifying their challenges, working through difficult times, and setting goals) as part of their training.  The psychologist helps them uncover the underlying reasons for internal obstacles. According to an article in the London Times, Olympic athletes use psychologists to help them win gold medals, “Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings worked with a sports psychologist en route to their third consecutive gold medal.  U.S. riflewoman Jamie Gray did, too, as she tried to erase the memory of a botched final shot at the Beijing Games.  British cyclist Philip Hindes credited his shrink for preparing him to deal with any mishaps that could arise during the men’s team sprint event. That advice came in handy when he lost control of his bike and crashed in an early round as Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, watched from the stands. Given a restart, he turned in a gold-medal performance — one of seven for the host country’s cycling team over the last two weeks.”

In order to win the gold, Olympic athletes include their minds as an important part of their training.  They understand that their mental state can affect their performance.   As performers, actors need to have a healthy mental state as well.  Don’t leave your minds behind when preparing for success.  A therapist is not necessary to accomplish this, unless of course, there are deep, underlying issues you need help with.  Then, by all means, get the help you need to accomplish your goals.  But, you can start training your mind right now in order to be ready for your  “Big Break,” and anything else that happens to come along.  Here are three important tips:

Cope with the pressures of performance anxiety and competition. Learn (scientifically proven) relaxation techniques that will calm you down before auditions and give you more creative access when performing.  Here is a free sample of a 10-minute body scan. Give it a try and see if you feel calmer and more in control after doing it. It’s proven to lower your heart rate and get your body out of fight or flight mode when feeling overwhelmed by fear. It’s great for panic attacks too.  This tool will help you push through your fears and come out stronger for it.

Recover quickly from mistakes. Train to keep your mind in the present moment and be ready for anything that comes your way.   When the Olympic cyclist, Hindes crashed his bike in front of Prince William and Kate, he knew how to pick himself up, get back on the bike and win a gold medal. Mistakes are not failures, they’re opportunities to get stronger and better. As Maya Angelou says, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Learning how to stay in the moment with mindful meditation (simply focusing on your breath) gives you the advantage of weathering the storms of the acting world and life in general. It will also teach you how to slow down and take your moments when they finally arrive. Sample a meditation here. Download a free meditation guide. Here are some Resources in  L.A. and N.Y. that have classes in mindful meditation.

Enjoy who you are, and take good care of yourself.  Know that you are far bigger than anything that could happen to you, don’t lose sight of that. Get unstuck in the yuck by  keeping things in perspective by distributing your focus and widening your lense.  The best investment you will ever make is learning how to love and accept yourself.  All of the above suggestions won’t stick if they aren’t gift-wrapped in self-love.  Soften your self-talk.  Stop all self-denigration right now.  Don’t continue any negative patterns from your past by living an “old present.” Instead of avoiding unpleasant feelings, face them, understand them, and then put them back in the past where they belong.   Learn how to treat yourself the way a good mother treats her child, with loving kindness. The way you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.   For some extra help in this area, here are some book recommendations

Striving to be the best version of yourself is a worthy goal and a good place to start your journey towards success.  When challenges are thrown on your path remember to never, never, never, give up on yourself.  There is always a way through difficulties, just don’t give up until you find it.

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.18.21 AM “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

- Brené Brown

 


Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. One of her specialties is working with artists in the Entertainment Industry. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice, visit her website.Follow her on Twitter and Facebook

Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.

conscious actor journal

The Conscious Actor’s Inspiration Journal; Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to express your new creative views. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop.

Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Paper Chase Press.