Looking back over the past year, the challenges of being in the acting profession may have taken you on a roller coaster ride of emotions from exhilaration to exhaustion. Actors must balance several jobs in order to survive financially, endure disappointments on a regular basis, deal with professional rejection, competition, self-doubt and anxiety from auditioning to performing. Congratulations, if you’re reading this article. You’ve made it through 2010 and your dream is still intact. But what would it be like for you to not only survive, but actually thrive? Are you aware of the difference? Surviving: to remain alive or in existence or able to live or function, especially succeed in staying alive when faced with life-threatening danger. Thriving: to grow vigorously and healthy, to be successful and often profitable. Surviving can feel powerless and victimizing, while thriving can feel as if you are the captain of your ship creating your own maps to guide you in the direction you wish to go. Which category do you feel best describes your experience last year?
When taking a look back, rather than rejecting your experience, let your experience become the teacher. Here are some guidelines to thrive in 2011.
- Begin by recognizing any negative patterns that may have been holding you back from accomplishing your goals. Did you have any thoughts like, “Uh oh, how did I get here again?” Negative patterns will keep reemerging until they are looked at and thoroughly understood. For example, Linda noticed she had difficulty showing up on time for her auditions. After many sessions in therapy grumbling about traffic, not enough time, not enough sleep, parking, etc., I asked her if all these things were not in the way, what would keep her from showing up on time? She sat quietly for a moment, and then recalled when her Dad had told her to put her time and effort into a real career, something steadier than acting. She was overwhelmed by the internal tug of war between wanting to pursue her love of acting and wanting to please her Dad. Putting words to her internal conflict enabled her to stop acting it out through her lateness and other self-sabotaging behavior. Recognizing her struggle allowed her to confront the feelings of losing her Dad’s love if she were to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Eventually, Linda was able to express her struggle to her Dad and both came to a mutual understanding and respect of each other’s feelings. Are there any internal conflicts that need your recognition in order to work them through, let them go and move towards your goals? Remember, it’s hard to be honest with yourself when you are stuck in blaming others. Accepting responsibility for your situation empowers you with choices and decisions you can make rather than being left to feel like a victim.
- Have you surrounded yourself with people who inspire you to be the best that you possibly can be, or are you surrounded by negative, energy suckers? Do you feel empty, drained and depressed when you are around certain people? Or are you stimulated, energized and raring to go? When you aspire to move forward, you want to be around people who will help lift you up not pull you down. Friends who are enthusiastic and uplifting can bring out the best in you. Here’s a scientific fact that might encourage you to become more aware of the kinds of people you are choosing to be around. Positive experiences can change the structure of your brain. This important information from Dr. Sara W. Lazar, a Harvard neuroscientist, is worth repeating, “Neuronal plasticity, the ability of neurons in the brain to change in response to experience, has been one of the most exciting discoveries in neuroscience. For a long time it was assumed that only the young brain can undergo such structural changes. However, recent findings have shown that the adult brain can also grow, reorganize and form new connections between neurons.” This encouraging scientific news proves that you can be proactive in changing the way you feel. Surrounding yourself with positive people not only feels good, but can change the structure of your brain. So remember inspire to rewire in 2011.
- Now that you’ve spent some time contemplating what obstacles may have been obstructing your path in 2010 and understand the importance of seeking inspiration to gain support along the way, it’s time to focus on your vision statement. Creating a vision statement can help you to clarify your goals and give you direction. It gives you an action plan to move your dream closer to becoming a reality. Make sure that your vision statement is detailed with specifics. You don’t want to be in the general vicinity of where you are going; you want to be right on target. For example, rather than stating that you want to star in a film this year, you might say, “I want to star in a film with Matt Damon, which is written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen and nominated Best Picture by the Golden Globe Awards. Keep your vision statement in a place where you can see it every day to remind yourself of your goals in order to put them in motion. Allow the process of “selective attention,” to work its magic. For example, if you repeat the word book, book, book, when you enter a room, all your focus will go towards the books. Make sure you’re not feeding yourself negative selective attention. Imagine walking into an audition thinking, “I’ll never get this part.” The Casting Director will see a person standing in front of her who, you guessed it, isn’t right for the part.
To thrive and not just survive in 2011, recognize negative patterns and feel empowered by taking responsibility for them, create an inspirational support team, and take positive steps towards defining your goals through a vision statement.
Keep in mind that, “Discipline is remembering what you want.” – David Campbell.
For additional support along your journey, and more info on creating Vision Boards, visit my website. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.
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.