No matter how confused or disillusioned you may feel, you have the capacity to move towards clarity and happiness at any given moment. But, it’s hard to help yourself when you’re sleepwalking through life. Here are just a few of the symptoms: feeling like life is unfair, blaming others for your difficulties, wishing you had someone else’s life instead of your own, constantly feeling deprived and envious, doing the same old thing and expecting different results.
Do you have a case of it? If you’re seeking an external magical fix to change how you feel internally, you’re wasting your time. Oh, yes that piece of chocolate, perfect role, right agent, etc. etc., feels good momentarily but it doesn’t last. If you only feel good about yourself when good things happen to you, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Bumps are inevitable. It makes more sense to get good at handling obstacles as they arise rather than running away from them. With a slight shift of perspective, you can learn to feel more in charge of your life, here’s how:
- Remember, you are not alone. Take comfort in knowing that everyone around you is struggling with something. Wake up and become aware when you start projecting your fantasies of perfection onto people. When you look at someone who is successful, are you imagining that they have the perfect life? Thinking their life is easy while yours is difficult? Feeding yourself these untrue fantasies will only make you feel badly about yourself. Recognize when you’re lost in thought and not grounded in reality. You have no idea what that person is going through. Make a conscious choice not to make yourself feel worse in those moments by staying in the truth.
- Use everything that happens to you, good and bad as material to wake up and become more conscious. When you’re invested in personal growth you stop feeling sorry for yourself and view everything as an opportunity for growth. This view helps you to feel less of a victim and more in charge of your life. Keep your focus on the process not the end results. If you can leave an audition that didn’t go very well and learn something important about yourself, than it was a very valuable audition, even if you didn’t get the part.
- Stop wasting energy trying to control the uncontrollable. You have no control over whether that casting agent is going to like you. Let it go, let them have their opinions. Instead, put all your energy into being the best that you can be when you walk through that door. Auditions are not personality contests. They are about getting the opportunity to practice your craft.
- When you’re struggling with your feelings, remember emotions are just energy in motion, learn to manage them. Use the tool R.A.I.N. to get a better grip on yourself.
R – recognize what is happening.
A – allow life to be just as it is.
I- investigate inner experience with kindness.
Basically it means, recognize what state your in. Ask yourself, “What is happening inside me right now?” Then, simply label it. Oh, anxiety is here right now. Don’t get lost in thoughts, just recognize it. Allow means just letting it be. Be present to what is happening inside you right now. Sometimes an encouraging word like, “yes” will help. Accept what is happening. Don’t try to medicate the feelings or run away from them. This helps you to build strength when strong emotions arise. Investigate with kindness. Ask yourself, “What am I believing?” or “Where am I experiencing this in my body?” or “ What is this feeling trying to communicate to me?” Non-identification is not letting this feeling define you. Feelings come and go like weather. You are bigger than any one emotion. Don’t define yourself by something that is impermanent. This is the brief version of RAIN. For a more detailed description of this useful tool, by Tara Brach, psychotherapist and meditation teacher, click here.
The greatest investment towards your happiness and wellbeing is not in a package sitting on a shelf, it’s right inside of you. When you are committed to meeting each moment in your life awake, aware and responsible for what’s going on inside you, the potential for growth and wisdom is limitless.
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.