Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places
Ah, February, the month that sends most people into a tizzy, especially actors. It’s a time when both Oscar and Cupid arrive. The events spotlight two important needs: the need for positive acknowledgement for your work life and the need to be loved in your personal life. Both needs have the potential to bring great happiness or despair. But, if you can remember this simple, golden rule you will find yourself feeling more happiness and less despair. Write it down, memorize it, and it will guide you towards more fulfilling, healthier relationships with yourself and others. Here it is: never confuse the two needs. Don’t look to fulfill your personal need to be loved through
Let me clarify this. When you auditionand don’t get a callback, it means they didn’t think you were right for the part. It’s not personal. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you. The fact is, they don’t know you. They are looking at your work—not you, the person. When actors can’t separate themselves from their work, auditions become dreaded torture instead of an opportunity to create and perform. Don’t waste your energy trying to get casting directors to fall in love with you, instead use your energy where it will pay off: developing your acting skills. When you make a mistake and don’t get a callback, it doesn’t mean that you are a worthless person. It just means the audition didn’t go well. Negative self-talk is harmful, and doesn’t get erased by career success, so stop doing it now! You are chipping away at your spirit. Don’t confuse an audience loving your performance with an audience loving you personally. When an audience loves your work, you don’t get to take them home with you at the end of the night. But, you do get to feel proud about your acting accomplishments. Know the difference. When you can be clear about these two needs and keep them separate, you will have more realistic expectations and less disappointment.
Several years ago, I had a painfully, embarrassing situation happen to me which taught me a great lesson. I had about 30 guests over for a Thanksgiving feast à la Martha Stewart. Lots of energy, effort and love went into the preparation. As my husband began to carve into the golden brown turkey, I was horrified to see that it was still raw on the inside. My guests glanced up at me, and I felt like hiding under the table. Instead, I just kept saying over and over to myself, “I am not my turkey and my turkey is not me. I am not my turkey and my turkey is not me.” I had to remind myself that I was not a failure because my oven thermostat failed. Quite the contrary, I was surrounded by friends and family who loved
me, whether or not my turkey was raw on the inside. In spite of my undercooked dish, it turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings, because I learned that making a perfect meal did not make me more lovable. Ultimately, you want to be loved for who you are and not what you do.
This year, when the Academy Awards announced the nominees there was an instant buzz vibrating in the entertainment industry, with many stating, “Ben Affleck was snubbed.” Despite recent wins at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globes, Affleck was not nominated for Best Director on the film “Argo.” But, when you watch this video of Affleck being interviewed after learning he wasn’t nominated, he doesn’t seem very bothered by it at all. In fact, when the reporter says, “You got robbed!” He says, “It doesn’t feel like it.” With a sense of humor, he stays grateful for the recognition he did receive. It seems that Affleck knows how to keep Cupid and Oscar in perspective. Part of his healthy perspective may be due to the fact that his need to be loved has been focused on his beautiful wife, Jennifer Garner. It’s her arms that he will go home to at the end of the evening, not Oscars’.
One way of knowing when you are having difficulty keeping your needs separate is by paying attention to your reactions when things don’t go your way. When you overreact to a work-related situation, it may be a sign that there is something deeper lurking below the surface. When you are unhappy about your performance, or disappointed that you didn’t get cast in a role, remember to keep it all in perspective. Even if it feels like it’s the end of the world, remind yourself that feelings are not facts. Simply analyze the situation, get some distance from it and see where you could’ve done things differently for a more positive outcome. Then, LET IT GO.
Ruminating and beating yourself up is harmful, not helpful.
Keep your need to be successful at what you do far away from your need to be loved. They have nothing to do with each other. Acting is not a popularity contest. Your need to be liked and loved is a healthy need, but find healthy ways to fulfill it, not in your work. Winning an Oscar is certainly a proud honor but it will never reach out and put its arms around you and say, “I love you.”
And that’s okay.
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. She understands the unique demands and challenges of the acting profession because along with her experience as a psychotherapist, she has been a part of the acting community for the past 39 years. This unique combination enables her to have a deeper understanding of the struggles of actors. 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. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click here for a free brochure on mindful meditation.