Posts in ‘The Conscious Actor’

The Conscious Actor

Mar 02

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

What’s Your Story?

Great stories help us make sense of the complex world we live in, and invite us to expand our understanding of it. Actors have been an integral part of storytelling for hundreds of years. A good story performed well, has the power to heal our pain by revealing the universality of our difficulties.  Knowing that everyone has problems helps us feel less isolated and ashamed.  A good film or play can give us the courage to open up and explore unknown territories within ourselves. Storytelling is a a miraculous phenomena that shows us a range of possibilities while making us feel more connected to each other.

Actors are an essential part of  storytelling.   If they are not 100% convincing in their roles, the audience won’t believe the story, and the magic cannot unfold.  In order to fulfill this important task, actors must have access to a full palette of emotions within themselves.  It requires courage and faith in oneself to reach down deep into murky, messy, vulnerable feelings and reveal them to the public.  Edgy, moving performances do not come from playing it safe.  Greatness is born out of risk-taking and valuing truth over vanity. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Feb 02

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

What’s really stopping you?

Blame is dangerous.  While it may feel good to rant, rave and, complain about how unfair life is, ultimately it turns you into a victim.  Yes, I agree, life is unfair.  But the question is, what do you want to do about it? After you express your unhappy feelings to a compassionate ear, then what?

There are many things in life that are out of your control.  As actors, you deal with this dilemma on a daily basis.  Your future is based on people saying yes to you.  “Yes, you’re right for the part.”  “Yes, I would love to be your agent.” “Yes, you’re exactly what I’m looking for.”  Given these facts, it’s important that you build strength to handle the no’s.  You can build skills to handle difficulties so they don’t have a negative effect on your self-esteem.  Begin by making a firm decision that no one will ever determine how you think and feel about yourself.  That power is in your hands alone.

Here are some ways to take control of the reins and steer yourself in a healthy, happy, productive direction. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jan 07

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

The new year is a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again.  Forge ahead in 2015, fearlessly trying new things.  Let go of old patterns that no longer serve you and view your life as an adventure to be savored every step of the way.  Begin with cutting-edge research to help transform your dream of becoming a successful actor into a reality.  To help set you in the right direction, I’ve compiled three important tips that are proven to help you become more efficient in attaining your goals.

overwork

Tip #1: Overworking makes you less productive.  In fact, research shows that relaxing, socializing and kindness is key to productivity.  Most people think the key to success is to work more, but that leads to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and lonely.  According to former Harvard Psychology professor, Dan Wegner, “Too much concentration on set goals can lead to the exact opposite of the desired goal. In other words, you cannot have a positive mental state when working under conditions of stress.” read all »

The Conscious Actor

Dec 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Make Sure Ed Doesn’t Spoil Your Holidays This Year!

The holidays signal a time to press the pause button as you reconnect with family and friends.  You’ve worked hard all year and are looking forward to kicking back and removing yourself from the rat race for a while.  Seasonal tunes stir up memories of holidays gone by. People are wishing each other good cheer and everything seems all right in the world.  How can something that wonderful end up feeling so miserable?  Well, you can blame Ed for that – Expectations and Disappointments.  When you have built up expectations,  you are setting yourself snowy cabinup for disappointment. Instead of biting the hook this year, try something new.  Embrace what’s right in front of you and stop chasing the dream of perfection.  It doesn’t exist. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Nov 05

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

How to Stay Real in an Unreal World. . .

Take your own garbage out.  You’re probably thinking uh oh, the Conscious Actor is slipping into unconsciousness with that one.  But hold on, before you pass judgment, hear me out.  The special challenges actors must deal with on a daily basis make them susceptible to losing sight of important values.  It’s important to remember what’s important in this business because temptations like power, wealth and fame, could easily transform you into a solipsistic nightmare.  In the whirlwind of ambition, qualities like integrity, honesty, generosity and kindness can get swept away.  You’ve got to constantly keep your values and narcissism in check so you don’t end up like Michael Keaton’s character in, “Birdman.”  He birdmanbeautifully portrays an actor who failed to balance the energy he put into building a successful career with building a successful personal life.  His heartlessness and blind ambition tore apart his family and ultimately alienated him from himself.  Strong values grounded in truth and whole-heartedness will always help you find your way home when life gets confusing. read all »

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 »