Find Your Resilience
I love the fall season, as it reminds me that we always have the ability to let go and begin anew. We’re able to watch the autumn leaves gently falling towards the ground knowing that they will reappear in spring, with the same brilliance as the year before. Sometimes it takes the changing of the seasons to remind us that resilience and rebirth are part of life.
During difficult times it is important to remember your innate capacity to begin again and create a fresh start. If there is one truth we cannot deny, it is that life never remains the same, especially in the entertainment industry. Just ask successful producers, writers and actors who have experienced blockbusters, hit seasons, awards, and fame only to be without work just as suddenly as they experienced their success. The feelings of insecurity about the future make it difficult to enjoy the success they have worked so hard to earn. Is this any way to live? You bet it’s not. But this is the nature of the business, and just like life, it continuously teaches you to make friends with change and find resilience if you want to survive.
One way to help your resilience blossom is to stay balanced. This week, I attended a writer’s workshop given by Dennis Palumbo, a successful screenwriter turned therapist who wrote one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, “ My Favorite Year. “ He told a revealing story of the impersonal nature of the audition process. Several years ago, while working on the television show, “Welcome Back Kotter,” he had spent most of the morning looking to cast the part of a female actress who was to play Gabe’s girlfriend. They had seen many actresses and couldn’t make a decision. It was now getting close to lunch time and they agreed that if the next actress could read her lines decently enough they would cast her. Before the process would begin again, Palumbo went to the bathroom. While there he noticed the window open and could hear two actresses talking about their auditions. One told the other,” I should’ve worked more on memorizing the lines. I didn’t nail it the way I could’ve.” The other actress was saying how her agent always tells her to dress sexier on auditions and she hasn’t, but from now on she would. Maybe that is why she didn’t get the part. He went on to say how impersonal the casting process can be. The part was going to be given to the next actress who happened to walk in and read the lines adequately enough so that they could go to lunch. But, the actresses that he overheard while in the bathroom were scrutinizing themselves thinking they had done something wrong.
What does this all mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work on your craft and get better at it, it means that you shouldn’t base the decisions that others make about you as a direct result of something you did or didn’t do. You need to find the balance. When you let go of the Give it your best shot and then let it go. When you get stuck in critical, negative thoughts which you only breed self-doubt, you make room for positive energy that will guide you towards fulfillment and excellence. Self-acceptance and not self-denigration will help you bounce back faster when you hit a bump in the road. Take a personal inventory of your views and especially of your negative self-talk. Are you beating yourself up after auditions or cheering yourself on for your effort? Remember your mind will grasp on to the negative words you tell it. Rewrite the script that’s going on inside your head and only use positive, uplifting language. Buoyancy will come to you when you can find ways to experience an element of power and dignity in everything that you do. Avoid catastrophizing by holding on to a greater vision when you experience disappointment and difficulty. Everything that is set on your path is about uncovering your strength, use it wisely and you will never be disappointed when things don’t go your way. Remember, we live in a rich world that never runs out of messages, listen and learn.
Resilience requires strength of body and mind. Look at all that is presented to you both the good and the bad as exercises in building mental muscle. “What sets you back also sets the stage for you to move forward.” – Ralph Marston. Recent research on happiness reveals that happy people view difficult experiences as learning opportunities. Don’t fall into the habit of saying, “Why did this happen to me?” Instead, reassure yourself that things don’t happen to you they happen for you. There’s a beautiful illustration of the ability to transform pain into gain in the biography, “Steve Jobs,” by Isaacson, “I was right here on the lawn, said Jobs, pointing out his boyhood home as he recalled when a neighbor girl found out he had been adopted. “She said ‘Does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?’ I remember running into the house crying. They said, ‘No, you don’t understand. We specifically picked you out.” At that moment, Jobs said he realized, I wasn’t abandoned. I was chosen. I was special.” At that crucial moment, Steve Jobs made an unconscious decision to live the rest of his life in the belief that he was chosen and not in the sorrow of feeling unwanted. Look internally and notice what negative beliefs you may be carrying around and make the conscious decision to let them go so that you can create more room in your life for positive things to take place.
Let your body be part of your plan to become more resilient. Take good care of your body and treat it with respect. Give it nutritious, healthy food, exercise, rest and it will perform well for you. Exercise benefits every part of the body including the mind. It causes the body to produce endorphins, chemicals that can help you feel more peaceful and happy. “When mind and body are joined together properly, there is a sense of joining heaven and earth.” –Trungpa. Remind yourself everyday to find the beauty around you. Remember that magnificent scene in “American Beauty,” of the plastic bag twirling in the wind? You don’t have to go to a museum to find beauty and inspiration. It is all around you in everyday life. Enjoy the elegance and strength of this extraordinary video of an eagle owl flying toward the camera, it’s a beautiful silent meditation within itself.
Watch the leaves slowly changing their colors as they let go of the branches and gently fall towards the ground. Let them be a reminder of your ability to let go of what you no longer need in order to make room for the vibrant new growth that will blossom with spring. For inspiration on your journey join me for motivational chat with Jamie Kalman here and visit my website for Seven Tips for Resilience
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.