Turn Roadblocks Into Opportunities
Life can be a paradox at times; the very thing that brings you joy and happiness also has the potential to bring you difficulty. If you’ve ever been in love, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Contradictory feelings over love have filled the pages of tabloids and great literature for centuries, because even as our world becomes more sophisticated, love — and the emotions surrounding it — remains the same.
The life of an actor also contains the paradox of encompassing great highs and deep lows. In fact, it can sometimes feel like one long roller coaster ride. An actor knows and understands these intense highs and lows very well because they live it on a daily basis. There are the highs of getting a callback, booking a part, getting an agent, nailing a scene, and getting a paycheck! And the lows of… well, I don’t have to tell you the lows.
Great relationships last because people decide to be in them for the long haul and learn how to endure bumps in the road along the way. Great careers have longevity because actors learn how to handle dry spells, failure and disappointments.
Endurance is the key to learning how to ride the roller coaster of being an actor. If you think that being talented is enough, think again. Longevity is the result of flexibility. Casting directors, agents, producers and directors are watching to see how flexible you can be without breaking. Shooting a movie, commercial or being in a play contains unpredictability. Things rarely go smoothly because of all the variables involved. It will be your ability to handle it all, that will determine your success.
Here are some keys to unlock your staying power.
- Let go of attaching yourself to any outcomes. Be mindful of what motivates you to be an actor. If you are in it for praise and admiration, or to counter some low self-esteem issues leftover from your childhood, be prepared for a lot of let downs. Instead, let your happiness be self-generated. Find satisfaction in having the opportunity to do the work you love no matter what the outcome is. When you go out on an audition, let your intent be growth. This new mindset will give you confidence and make you attractive to casting directors (who can be like blood hounds with a good nose for sensing neediness in actors). When performing, accept that you cannot control how your audience reacts to you. Give it all you’ve got, moment -to –moment, and then learn to let it go.
- Accept that an actor’s life is difficult and full of disappointment and dissatisfaction, so that you’re not thrown off course by roadblocks. When you are honest and accepting about this fact, it makes you much more grateful and appreciative of the wins when they do arrive.
- Despite the day-to-day frustrations an actor faces, there is nothing more thrilling than knowing what you are doing matters, that it is vital, and that it is what you were meant to be doing. This feeling is important, it will sustain you and make you feel fortunate to wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose and it gets you excited about what the new day has in store for you.
- Acting is challenging. If you want quiet and easy, look into becoming a librarian. Every time you begin a new role, you give yourself a challenge. Set your course towards growth and you will never be disappointed. No matter what happens, whether you book the part or not, whether the show was a flop or a success, you can always walk away satisfied when you learn something new from your experience.
- Relish the sacred task of an actor. Every new role honors you with an opportunity to express your creativity. With each new project, you start out in the dark, having to discover all over again the magic of making words on a page come to life. This is what keeps acting interesting, frustrating, exciting and so worth the effort.
- You are not alone, there isn’t an actor who exists that didn’t feel the dreaded sense of failure, it is inevitable. Don’t let yourself feel ashamed of your failures, wear them on your chest like a badge of honor- each one shows that you put yourself out there, got out of your comfort zone, took risks for something you believed in. Good for you!!! Make the choice to not let this feeling of dread defeat you.
- Develop a strong mind to endure the unpredictable weather of life. We don’t have control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we choose to view it. Practice mindful meditation. Mindfulness is simply the act of openly and actively observing your moment-to-moment experience with kindness. As we do this, we will begin to understand our bodies and minds better and not be so reactive in our daily life to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. We will have more space or choice in our life. Mindfulness is not about feeling a particular state, or having a kind of experience. With mindfulness, we develop a quality of attention that can be present no matter what is happening. Actors whom I have worked with on mindfulness notice an improvement in their performances because they are better able to stay focused and in the moment. It will also help you to have more peace, ease, and balance while riding the roller coaster of life. You start with the simple awareness of your breathing. For more info on this wonderful tool, visit my website. Mindful meditation is free and accessible to everyone. To try a quick five minute meditation click here.
Just like a meaningful, loving relationship, an acting career requires work to consciously master the skills necessary to make it flourish and stand the test of time. The good news is with effort and perseverance, you can learn to have staying power and establish a fulfilling, life-long acting career. I wish you a meaningful and happy journey.
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.