Posts in ‘The Conscious Actor’

The Conscious Actor

Oct 02

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Your Guide For Getting “Unstuck.”

It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when auditions are scarce even though you’re doing everything you possibly can.  Because an actor’s life swirls in uncertainty, they often feel powerless and stuck.  Frustration builds knowing that the clock is ticking, and you’re not getting any closer to your destination.  When you find you’re in the midst of this kind of struggle, don’t give up.  It’s okay to feel worn out by the acting profession, but don’t let it take you down completely.  There is plenty you can do to push through difficult times and come out smelling like a rose.

two roads

As badly as you may feel, remember, somewhere inside of you is the power to move forward no matter what obstacles are thrown on your path.  Hold tight to your dreams as you go through adversity knowing that you will come through it being the best version of yourself.  Your power is in how you choose to view what happens to you. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Sep 02

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

The Most Important Thing is to Remember the Most Important Thing

Back in August, while gathering my thoughts for September’s article on, “Happiness,” I wondered how useful it would be to the Networker readers.  In the midst of my pondering, the shocking news of Robin Williams’ suicide splashed all over the news. That week, a lot of my patients, as well as the rest of the world, were shocked, saddened, and bewildered at why someone so successful and funny would take his own life.  On the outside Robin’s life seemed perfect; an enviable career, fame, family, friends, and gifted with an abundance of talent.  He was revered by his peers and by the public.  How could all those accolades not be enough to make him want to continue living?  Unfortunately it wasn’t.  I don’t know the internal workings that led Robin to make such a tragic decision to end his life, but it was obvious that all the glitter on the outside did not come close to squelching the pain he must have felt on the inside. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jul 31

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Going Through Transitions with Strength and Ease

Can you let go of the familiar, tolerate feelings of uncertainty, and take the necessary steps to move towards something new?  As actors, you are thrown into situations that are continually changing on a daily basis: you get dropped by your agent, a show gets cancelled, they replace you with another actor, you go from TV to film, stage to commercials, and on and on.  Everything in life changes continuously, without exception. If you have a tough time  transitioning, you will end up being stuck and discouraged more than necessary.  Happy, successful people don’t go through less disappointment and difficulty than you, they just know how to transition through it better.  The same amount of doors close in their face as yours, the difference is their view of the difficulty.  They’ve learned how to go through transitions with some dignity and wisdom, and so can you!

If you were lucky, you saw your parents go through transitions successfully.  Maybe they went through hard financial times, divorce, or loss and came through it in tact – stronger and wiser for having gone through it.  In that case, you’ve got a built in capacity to handle transitions more easily than the person who didn’t grow up in that kind of family.  We don’t get to choose our families; they choose us. We can’t hope for a better past, but we can certainly find our way to a better present.  There is some groundwork that you can start laying down right now that will help you handle changes when they start happening and trust me, they will happen, and happen and happen.  To begin with, stop putting precious energy into feeling sorry for yourself. Being angry, envious or bitter is a waste of time.  Instead, start building bridges that will help you get through challenging situations when they arise.   Below are 10 steps to help you cross that bridge and get to solid ground.

bridge

  1. Feel your feelings around what is happening to you, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready to start moving.  Wishing for a life filled with no good-byes and just hellos is not realistic.  In order to be happy and successful you’ve got to deal with the real world, not how you’d like it to be.  Difficulties are like the weather, they come and they go.  Instead of howling at the thunder and rain to go away, get an umbrella.  Learn to adapt when something is unchangeable.  Nothing is permanent and lasts forever. You make yourself a target for disappointment when you think that tough times just happen to you.  You are not unique, they happen to everybody.  It’s tough to let go of the way things were, but when you don’t let go of the past, you can’t make room for anything new to come into your life.  Every transition begins with an ending.
  2. Successful people have quiet rituals to help them set their course. Rituals become  maps to guide you through difficult times when you’re feeling lost and confused.  Transitions are notorious for evoking fear of the unknown.  You need a routine to help calm your anxiety.  It will help you focus throughout your day, rather than being frozen in fear and overwhelm.  Routines teach you to be less reactive to stressors around you and more proactive in setting your priorities.  Usually the first hour of your day is a good time to create a trusted routine.  This will help you to feel more in control, less reactive, reduce anxiety and stress, and empower you to feel more competent.  Put some thought into how you start your day because it sets the tone of your overall state of mind.
  3. Don’t let transitions freeze you in a state of fear.  Procrastination usually sneaks in and robs you of your ability to get things done.  Take action.  A good plan executed today is better than the perfect plan you are dreaming about.  Don’t wait for the right time to do what you need to do.  If you need extra support, call trusted friends and family to help you through the slump.  Small steps are a good beginning.
  4. The Chinese letters for crisis are also opportunity.  Look for silver linings.  You’re an artist, you know that behind every great performance or piece of epic art is gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak.  Research in the field of psychology has shown that many people use their hardships for creative and intellectual development.  Use what feels like poison as medicine. It helps you to grow in dangerareas of contentment, gratitude, strength and resourcefulness.  When it feels like the world you know has been shattered, it’s time to press the restart button, change your old views, and get a fresh perspective.  The ability to reboot makes you more resilient and encourages personal growth and long-term success.
  5. Remember you learn best when you are out of your comfort zone.  Learning takes place when you stretch yourself beyond your comfort level.  When you manage life’s edginess you are rewarded with strength and intelligence.  Better to feel an hour of discomfort and learn from your experience than years of running in place.  To get through transitions, expect to stumble and make mistakes, that’s when you experience self-growth the most.
  6. You don’t have to do it alone.   Find others who have been where you want to go and have them show you the ropes.  Observe successful, great people and study their methods.  Sometimes just observing can give you a clearer idea of where you are going and what you need to do.  Seek mentors and groups that will inspire and support you during your transition.  Group is also a safe environment where you can receive trusted feedback. You need to learn to check in with others who can observe your blind spots in a gentle constructive way.  Group therapy can promote self-growth and healing during this time, especially if you feel isolated, lonely and far away from family.
  7. Focus on the positive.  We are hardwired in our brains to perform better when we are in a positive mindset.  Recent scientific studies showed that optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by over 50%. Students who felt happy before taking math tests outperformed their neutral peers. For an extra boost of benefits, put more focus on keeping a positive mindset.
  8. Create visual reminders of your long-term goals. Transitions can make you feel scared and lost.  During those times, it’s helpful to have a visual of your destination in view.  It helps keep you balanced when the ground beneath you feels shaky.  Visual reminders keep you on track when you are thrown farther away from your ultimate goal. They can spark the energy you need to hang in there until you make that new transition.
  9. Keep a journal, it will become a trusted guide for each transition. Your journal reminds you where you’ve been and where you want to go. It’s your place to reflect and capture thoughts of inspiration and insight. It’s one of the most underused, yet incredibly effective tools available.  It helps you to slow down your process and reflect on what has happened to you.  When you’re able to take a distant view, you will be able to see things and understand them better.
  10. Be kind to yourself and others. It’s okay if you make mistakes, learn to apologize when needed and move on.  Mistakes happen when you put yourself out there, good for you for trying.  There is no shame in asking for help when you can’t figure things out. You can’t possibly know it all.  We were born to need each other.  Find your sense of humor,  it will lighten your path. When you are kind to yourself you will be kinder towards others.

Transitions are a natural part of life and necessary for change and growth.  I hope this information will help ease your way, and be a tool for you to tap into the strength and courage already inside you.

 

butterfly swirl

“Just when the caterpillar thought, ‘I am incapable of moving,’ it became a butterfly.”

Annette Thomas

 


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. Like The Conscious Actor on Facebook

consciousactorjournal

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.

The Conscious Actor

Jun 30

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

ENJOY THE KISS, BUT HAVE A PLAN

Crack open an actor when they’re wrapped up in a conversation about acting and you’ll find a great big smile.  Oh, they may not be so in love with their profession when competing for a role, trying to meet the rent, or vying for the right agent.  But, when acting, they’re smitten.  They can even tell you the moment it kisshappened to them.  Maybe watching their first Broadway show, getting cast in the school production of,  “Annie,” or losing themselves in a dark movie theatre watching the big screen.  The moment they fell in love with acting remains imprinted in their memory banks like a first kiss.  But, as you know by now, everything comes with a price.

In-between acting jobs actors must contend with moments of joy, disappointment, heartache, self-doubt, and the list goes on and on.  It’s an endurance test.  And you can be sure that “love” won’t help you ride out those waves when you feel like throwing the towel in. Love is a good start, but it is discipline, not inspiration that will carry you through when your heart is lagging behind. Discipline is more than the act of just showing up.  It is a commitment to stick with yourself even when everything falls apart.  As actors, you will have to pull it back together over and over again.  When you get thrown off course by rejection or disappointment, discipline will be the map you use to find your way back.  The great graphic designer, Massimo Vignelli said,

 “Discipline is what helps us navigate through the social context in which we operate. Discipline is what makes us responsible toward ourselves, toward our clients, toward the society in which we live. It is through discipline that we are able to improve ourselves, mentally and physically; to offer the best of ourselves to everything around us, including every project on which we work…” read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jun 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

 Sail Through Rejection With 5 Questions

All actors experience rejection in their careers, even famous ones like, Marilyn Monroe.  In 1944, some putz at the Blue Book Modeling Agency said to Miss Monroe, “You had better learn secretarial work or else get married.”  Oh, that’s so 1944, and so lacking insight!  In 2014, actors still have to struggle with rejection and a good amount of ‘putzs’ (Yiddish for jerks) on a daily basis.marilyn

To have stamina, you need a solid strategy for handling rejection, and I don’t mean… shopping, chocolate, or a dirty martini.  Strategies that keep you running away from your feelings are self-destructive and chip away at your spirit. Instead, the next time you face rejection, pull out these five questions and turn the bitter pill of rejection into a mega vitamin,  that will foster strength, endurance, and confidence. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Apr 29

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

Smile at Fear

If there’s one feeling actors would love to get rid of once and for all, it’s FEAR; especially when it gets in the way of their performance.  Fear can sound like a faint voice in the background causing you to doubt yourself.  It whispers things like, “What if you don’t get any auditions this week?”  “What if your agent drops you?”  “What if you flub a line?”  “What if you fall on your face when the curtain goes up?” Not all fears are based in failure, some come along with success.  Like,” Wow, finally booked a job, will I be able to do this again?”  “Love working on this show, I wonder when it’s going to be cancelled?”  “Gee, it feels good to have money in the bank, but how long will it last?” read all »

The Conscious Actor

Apr 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Mindfulness Meditation: To Be or Not to Be

What if I told you that it was possible to develop skills—for free—that could help you manage feelings of stress and difficulty with a sense of ease?  I’m talking about the ones that actors are particularly prone to on a daily basis; like horrific auditions, agents who drop you or parts lost to fellow thespians?  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Wrong, believe it.  It’s called mindfulness meditation, and it has scientific research to back up its efficacy.

The kind of meditation I’m talking about is extremely simple and doesn’t require an excursion to a mountaintop to contemplate your existence.  It simply asks that you sit still, in a comfortable position, and focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling for ten or more minutes.  That’s it.  This simple task has been proven to have big effects on the brain and how you feel.  If I didn’t personally experience the benefits of mindfulness, I would have some doubts.  But, I’ve seen how the practice of mindfulness meditation has helped people, especially actors, to meet life’s challenges with equanimity and balance. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Mar 05

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Are you headed down the red carpet or the green carpet?

Hollywood transforms into a smorgasbord of emotional highs and lows during Oscar week.  Breathtaking beauties dripping with baubles prance down the red carpet waiting to be gobbled up by screaming fans and insatiable reporters.  Invites to lavish parties are sent with seductively luxurious gift baskets ready to lure the prey. This is the stuff dreams are made of.  And it’s all so damn tempting isn’t it? The red carpeters have it all—the perfect life. Wow, some people have all the luck.  Why is it so easy for them and so difficult for me?

Okay, enough of that talk! As the hilarious Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.“ So, let’s stop kvetching and start building.  If you’re going to last in Hollywood, you’ve got to find a way not to let the green-eyed monster called envy take a bite out of you. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Feb 03

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Like Is Not Love

My heart is aching.  I just put my sister on a plane headed back to New York after a wonderful 10-day visit with me. It’s tough when 3,000 miles separates you from your family.  Actors understand this heartache very well.  They often find themselves in cities far away from family and friends, while pursuing their careers.  Kudos to you for having the bravery to pack your bags, leave your home behind and venture out into the big unknown.

An actor’s life can look like an emotional obstacle course.  Up one day, down the next.  One door may close and in the next moment another opens.  It’s rarely a smooth ride.  You’re juggling auditions, classes, agents, headshots, and a myriad of other demands while working another job to keep food on the table.  One commercial can put enough money in your bank account to buy a house or you could go months without an audition.  This is what actors sign up for when they decide to pursue an acting career.  Keeping your spirits intact while you deal with all of this is essential to survival.  To ensure a successful journey, don’t leave the care of your emotional life behind.  Get a plan to survive the tough emotional circumstances that will inevitably cross your path.  If you don’t, you won’t last.  Many actors have given up and packed their bags before they reached their full potential because they couldn’t handle their difficult emotions.  So, what will it take to give it your best shot? read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jan 03

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

Two Simple Steps for a Better Year

Actors, is the New Year an unpleasant reminder that time has gone by and you still don’t have what you want? Or, is it a reminder to stop, take a breath, and be grateful that you’ve made it through another year?  Your view of the New Year speaks volumes about you.  It reveals your take on life.  That’s important information, because where you direct your focus has greater influence on your happiness and well-being than what actually happens to you in life. There are two types of temperaments; those who hit obstacles along their path, fall down, make mistakes, and are able to get up and go along their merry way, and those who stay stuck, blaming and cursing at everyone else while feeling sorry for themselves.  Which temperament do you identify with?

In my psychotherapy practice, those people who have the most successful outcomes in therapy are the ones who come in feeling stuck and unhappy but want some self-understanding in order to move through their unhappiness and change.  They know how to harness their personal power by taking responsibility for their present life no matter what their past looks like.  They want to understand where they’ve been so they know where they are going.  On the other hand, those trapped in negative cycles, are usually trying to change everyone else’s views in order to justify their own.  A better alternative would be to acknowledge that life has been unfair, let go, and move forward, rather than wallowing in self-pity.  Sad to say, that there is no magic wand that can be waived over your heads to make all the bad go away.  I wish there was.  But, the good news is, you don’t need magic to change.  If you’ve got a strong desire, a lot of guts and the willingness to work hard, the world of possibilities can open up to you.  I’ve witnessed it. It can be done, no matter what you’ve been through. read all »