Your Guide For Getting “Unstuck.”
It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when auditions are scarce even though you’re doing everything you possibly can. Because an actor’s life swirls in uncertainty, they often feel powerless and stuck. Frustration builds knowing that the clock is ticking, and you’re not getting any closer to your destination. When you find you’re in the midst of this kind of struggle, don’t give up. It’s okay to feel worn out by the acting profession, but don’t let it take you down completely. There is plenty you can do to push through difficult times and come out smelling like a rose.
As badly as you may feel, remember, somewhere inside of you is the power to move forward no matter what obstacles are thrown on your path. Hold tight to your dreams as you go through adversity knowing that you will come through it being the best version of yourself. Your power is in how you choose to view what happens to you.
You don’t have to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them. You are capable of change, especially when things are not working out for you. Don’t be a prisoner of old patterns and negative habits. Actors often feel immobilized because their success depends on someone else giving them a break by saying yes. The real power is how you handle the no’s. Which direction will you choose after you hear no; self-destruction or self-empowerment? Don’t be a prisoner of old patterns and negative habits. To get unstuck, remember these nine thoughts:
- Feelings are not facts. – Just because you feel something, doesn’t make it real. Feelings come and go like the weather. Ruminating on negative thoughts is not helpful; in fact, it just makes them stick around longer. You may feel that the director doesn’t like you, but that feeling is not a fact. Isn’t life hard enough? Why make it more difficult by feeling bad about something that you don’t know for sure? You can stop spiraling down when you question yourself by saying, “Is this a feeling or a fact?” If it’s not a fact, stop ruminating about it and move on.
- Blame has no gain. – Feeling that others are to blame for your situation will only keep you feeling powerless and stuck. Take a look inside yourself and remember that you are responsible for your life. Readjust your perceptions so they will help move you forward, not shut you down. Alter your audition experience by transforming, “That casting director doesn’t like me” to “What areas of my performance need improvement so I can do a better job next time?” When you change how you view your auditions, the auditions begin to change.
- Learn to let go.– You can’t have a better past by obsessing over your mistakes. After you analyze and understand your situation, let it go. You can’t move forward when you have your feet planted in the past. In order to feel free, release your regrets. Whatever is watered will grow. If you water the seeds of happiness that’s what will come to fruition. Negative thoughts will only make your unhappiness grow. Let go of what doesn’t serve you right now.
- Feeling stuck is a beginning not an end. – The way you’re doing things is not working. Time to do something else. It could be a change of old habits or a simple change in your perspective. Feeling stuck can be a gift that informs you that it’s time to make some changes. Rather than dwelling on your difficulty, think of it as part of the journey. During difficult times, remember these wise words from Enoch Powell: “ If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.”
- Nothing of value comes without hard work. – This stuff sounds simple but is not easy. It takes honesty and courage to admit that something needs to change. Instead of being so invested in being right, be invested in your growth by recognizing and admitting when you’ve made a mistake. Be ready to admit when your plans aren’t working so you can throw away the old maps and make new ones. Venture out into unchartered territory, that’s where the rewards are. There are no gains to be had if you’re afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
- Just jump in. – Stop waiting for the perfect moment to do what you need to do. If you look for excuses not to do something, you’ll find them. Nothing magical is going to enter your life and get you out of your rut. Roll up your sleeves and begin by taking small steps in a positive direction.
- Stop giving your power away to other people’s opinions. – Not everyone is going to fall in love with you, and that’s okay. Accept that fact and you won’t get stuck feeling badly when it happens. If you are constantly trying to prove your worth to someone else, it means that deep inside you feel that you are not enough. When you put too much weight on others opinions, you will always be their prisoner. Your freedom lies not in what others may think of you, but what you think of yourself. Listen to your intuition, put yourself in healthy environments, act and speak with dignity and intelligence, and you will always feel proud of yourself.
- Its okay to have a change of heart. – Life is change and change is good. Don’t hang on to an old belief or goal that is outdated. It’s okay if your childhood dream of being an actor transforms into something else. Don’t get stuck on what you think you should be doing, feeling or thinking. When you take “should” out of your vocabulary, you just might find out what you really want. If you find yourself saying should more than want, you’re on someone else’s path not your own. By letting go of what “should” happen you make space in your life for what really matters to you.
- No more excuses – Here is a free online course to nudge you out of your stuckness, that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from cutting-edge research and science. Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. You will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond. What’s more, “The Science of Happiness” will offer you practical strategies for nurturing your own happiness. Research suggests that up to 40% of happiness depends on our habits and activities.
Be strong and remember that some of the biggest breakthroughs emerge after long periods of being stuck. Use this guide to help you muster up a small step forward. That’s good enough for right now!
Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, by discovering what unconscious obstacles might be blocking their path, and learning how to slowly push through them. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website. Like The Conscious Actor on Facebook
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.