How to Stay Real in an Unreal World. . .
Take your own garbage out. You’re probably thinking uh oh, the Conscious Actor is slipping into unconsciousness with that one. But hold on, before you pass judgment, hear me out. The special challenges actors must deal with on a daily basis make them susceptible to losing sight of important values. It’s important to remember what’s important in this business because temptations like power, wealth and fame, could easily transform you into a solipsistic nightmare. In the whirlwind of ambition, qualities like integrity, honesty, generosity and kindness can get swept away. You’ve got to constantly keep your values and narcissism in check so you don’t end up like Michael Keaton’s character in, “Birdman.” He beautifully portrays an actor who failed to balance the energy he put into building a successful career with building a successful personal life. His heartlessness and blind ambition tore apart his family and ultimately alienated him from himself. Strong values grounded in truth and whole-heartedness will always help you find your way home when life gets confusing.
Unlike film, there are no retakes in the real world. You can’t make a better past. But the good news is that the door to wisdom is never closed and you can take steps now to build a life that you can be proud of. You don’t have to become a superhero like “Birdman.” In fact, it is how you handle your daily existence which says more about who you are than how many movies you’ve made or how much money you have in the bank. You shape who you are and what you become through the choices you make and the decisions that are decided. I’m talking about the little decisions, like how you choose to relate to people. For example, do you make the effort to look in the eyes of the cashier at the grocery store or do you treat them like a non-person? Is it part of your professional ethic to be courteous at the end of a shoot and thank everyone on the set before saying good-bye? Are you more jovial with the person who has the power to hire you than the person standing right next to you? When you’re in the reverse position and someone is treating you poorly because you’re not high on the hierarchy of power, it feels pretty lousy doesn’t it? Remember how it feels and let that guide you to having more compassion for others as you pursue your goals in life. These little, kind gestures will help you to feel better about yourself and make you more enjoyable to be around.
In a business where you can be an overnight success it’s easy to lose sight of what will bring you long-term happiness. Remember that everything is fleeting – what you have today can be gone by tomorrow. Don’t let your happiness rest on something you can lose. Instead, while you are busy trying to accomplish your goals keep in mind how you are impacting those around you. We all make mistakes, say the wrong and regret what we have done. That’s okay. It’s part of being human. You can always use your words to repair the rupture and try doing it better next time. That’s what’s so great about life; with every new day we get a fresh start. We get an opportunity to leave this world a better place for having been in it. Becoming more mindful of your behavior will help you attain clarity, wisdom, compassion and inner sustainability. It’s a win-win situation. Keep the words of Henry David Thoreau close to your heart as you meet your challenges, “ What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Every step today writes the legacy you will leave behind tomorrow. How would you like to be remembered?
I remember watching Patti LuPone on a show, instructing a group of young, eager musical theatre students. She shared a pre-performance ritual with them. Before the curtain went up and the show began, she would stand in the wings of the stage, peering out into the audience and say to herself something like, “ You see that man in the 3rd row? I’ve got something to give him that he needs to hear.” She’s on a mission to give. She’s not expecting the audience to give her anything. Instead, she goes out there with a big, generous heart and that genuine intention personifies her dynamic stage presence.
Fame and fortune are fickle and will come and go. But when you invest in your integrity, it will never leave your side. It’s what will keep your internal star shining bright. Like Marilyn Monroe said, “We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”
And during those times when your head gets a little swollen from this business, and you get too big for your britches, remember you can always take your own garbage out to get a quick reality check.
Free tips on managing Autumn Anxiety – Bonnie Katz Psychotherapy
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. 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.