Are you headed down the red carpet or the green carpet?
Hollywood transforms into a smorgasbord of emotional highs and lows during Oscar week. Breathtaking beauties dripping with baubles prance down the red carpet waiting to be gobbled up by screaming fans and insatiable reporters. Invites to lavish parties are sent with seductively luxurious gift baskets ready to lure the prey. This is the stuff dreams are made of. And it’s all so damn tempting isn’t it? The red carpeters have it all—the perfect life. Wow, some people have all the luck. Why is it so easy for them and so difficult for me?
Okay, enough of that talk! As the hilarious Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” So, let’s stop kvetching and start building. If you’re going to last in Hollywood, you’ve got to find a way not to let the green-eyed monster called envy take a bite out of you. When envy rears its ugly head, you feel unhappy about the success of others while secretly feeling inferior yourself. You may feel that it’s unfair that another person has what you want and find yourself wishing that they would lose what they gained. If you are envious of someone, you may find yourself cutting them down, in order to lift yourself up. None of these reactions really help, even though they might feel good in the moment. In fact, you are feeding your feelings of inferiority and growing the green-eyed monster even bigger.
The entertainment industry is a breeding ground for envy. When you see Jennifer Lawrence accepting an award, the comparing and measuring-up sirens start going off. Next comes the negative self-talk, which envy thrives on. “I’ll never be that beautiful, I’ll never have those kinds of movie deals with those big names and numbers.” Envy thrives on low self-esteem, perfectionism and comparison. If you can stop feeding your envy, and learn how to grow your self-esteem instead, you’ll be much happier with the world and a whole lot happier with yourself. Let’s shine some light on this nasty monster and expose it for what it is, so you can be rid of it at last! Here are some tips to help wipe it out.
- Give, give, give.
There are some sneaky side effects to having a generous heart and helping others. Shifting the focus off yourself and onto others stops you from having negative thoughts like, self-criticism, self-doubt, or self-loathing. Generosity distracts you from listening to your inner critic, who’s pointing out all the mistakes you made instead of all the wins you had. It’s hard to buy into the, “I’m worthless mantra,” when you watch someone else benefit from your generosity. Another sneaky side effect of giving is that it keeps you out of isolation, which wards off depression. People who have struggled with depression found volunteering gave them a sense of purpose, value, and built their confidence. When you are generous, you become more sensitive towards others and this allows you to be more sensitive and self-accepting with yourself. Generosity has also been known to make you feel more relaxed and attuned with yourself and the world around you. Complimenting others and feeling happy for their triumphs creates a healthy and happy heart. Researcher, Jonathan Haidt, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Virginia uses the term “elevation,” to describe the emotion one encounters when he witnesses, “moral beauty.” He further explains that, “Elevation seems to have a ripple effect, triggering cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. It makes people more open, more loving, grateful, compassionate, and forgiving.” Generosity is a bridge that takes your longing and transforms it into belonging.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
If you are comparing, you are probably idealizing others and viewing them through a false lens of perfection. Everyone has blemishes, even if you can’t see them. Stop torturing yourself by believing that, if you could possess what they have, it will bring you happiness. Don’t buy into the commercial, capitalistic vision of getting a newer, better, younger version of yourself. We don’t need more Ken and Barbie dolls in the world. We need to see real people who struggle with real problems, so we don’t feel alone and in the dark when we are knee-deep in struggle. Strive to go through life with honesty, integrity, grace, and self-acceptance, rather than abandoning yourself, wishing you were someone else. Move on, they’re already taken. Be the best that you can be, but for, heaven’s sake, be you. When you start to embrace the idea that you are unique, you will drop the urge to compete.
- Be Realistic
Having realistic expectations will help you stop setting yourself up for disappointment. If you wish you were 6’4” and you’re only 5’ 2”, embrace every bit of your 5’ 2”-ishness and let it go. Think of all the extraordinary talent we would miss if people like Lena Dunham set out to be more like Jennifer Lawrence. We would have been robbed of a delicious comedienne who has other things on her mind besides being a size 4. When you listen to and accept your, “true self,” with all of its limits and potentials it will steer you straight to your happiness faster than a diet, a nose job, or money in the bank will.
When you can treasure “true self,” you will stop seeking what you are looking for in others. Envy will trick you into thinking that what someone else has is better than what you have. When you honestly value what you have inside, your envy will cease and you will never feel deprived again. Self-love lasts a lifetime. Now, go out there and be your beautiful selves!
Bonnie will be a guest speaker at the Actor’s Pro Expo in New York this April 26th. For those of you wanting to learn how to build resilience through mindfulness and cutting edge neuropsychology come by!
Bonnie Katz 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.
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.