Feeding The Right Wolf
Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you went on an audition, a welcoming committee was waiting to greet you with a nice beverage, a warm smile, and a kind word or two? Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a big difference in how you feel about what you’re going through. Life feels easier when you have a team behind you, cheering you on, and catching you when you fall down.
That team is called a “family.” But, some people don’t have the kind of support they need as they go through life. That makes life feel harder
As hard as you try, you can’t have a better past. But you can create a better “present.” The present moment is filled with choices. Stay stuck in the past or start getting busy making your present better. Here are 6 things that you can start to do right now to ease your way in the world:
1. Don’t take it personally. Most of the negative behavior you bump into out there is pretty much impersonal. People are busy wrapped up in their own stories and struggles, not giving you a second thought. If you find yourself fretting about how others perceive you, stop wasting your time. In fact, it is your own self-belief that has the greatest power over you. Remember, others will respond to you based on how you feel about yourself. If you have confidence and believe in yourself, others will pick up on that and treat you accordingly. When you work towards having self-compassion the big payoff will be self-acceptance. When you accept yourself just as you are with all of your wonderful imperfections, you will never be held hostage by the opinions of others.
2. Be aware of your thoughts.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. “The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” Start to become aware of your thoughts. Don’t expect to feel good about yourself or the world if you have a negative view. Negative views create negative feelings. Look for what’s going right in your day instead of gravitating towards what’s wrong.
3. Don’t react – respond.
A reaction is usually thoughtless and is driven by fear. Instead, take a breath, slow yourself down, and think before you react to difficult situations. When you respond rather than react, you feel more in control of yourself. Choose to handle struggles with grace and intelligence. Watch your self-esteem grow as your behavior begins to reflect your dignity.
4. Stop catastrophizing. Moments of darkness present opportunities to build strength and wisdom. Remember, when one door closes another opens. Whatever battle you are engaged in now will eventually pass. The world is continually changing moment to moment and so are you. In fact, emotions will only last a minute and a half if your mind doesn’t grab hold and start repeating negative thoughts like a broken record. Let emotions wash through you and they will eventually wash away. Rilke’s poem puts daily struggles into perspective:
“Let everything happen to you,
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.”
5. Make peace with change. – You may not like change, but it’s a natural part of life. A leading exponent of teachings on meditation and everyday wisdom, PemaChödrön reminds us that, “Although our mind perceives things as being fixed, everything is, in fact, changing all the time. Life is so fluid it’s more like being in a river rather than standing on solid ground. It’s change that offers unlimited possibility for freshness and uniqueness.” Making peace with change allows you to adapt easier. Work on having resilience rather than resistance.
6. Stop trying to be perfect. –We think that if we do everything perfectly we will have a perfect life. But when you go about your life so tightly wound, you don’t leave any room for something fresh to happen. To be fully alive, fully human, is to continually be thrown out of your comfort zone. Let go of your need to have tight control of things, instead work at doing your best and letting go of the rest. Listen to Brene Brown’s moving talk on, “The Gifts of Imperfection.”
Resilience is an actor’s greatest asset. When circumstances knock you down, find your feet and stand up – over and over again. Surround yourself with kind, loving people who will share your joy and hold your hand through the losses. It’s self-acceptance that holds the rewards, not self-criticism. When you work on taking care of your emotional life, you will feel balanced, be able to tap into your intuition and ultimately be more productive.
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. She works towards promoting a healthy mindset through meditation and self-understanding in order to cultivate healthy relationships and handle problems with a greater capacity of confidence and integrity. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website. Like The Conscious Actor on Facebook and get daily inspiration.
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.