HOW TO EMBRACE
FALLING ON YOUR FACE
In April, we witness the delightful display of Mother Nature’s spring awakening. The fragrant blossoms popping up have no traces of the brutal winter left behind. Yet, it is the harshness of winter that makes spring even more magnificent. And, just as leaves falling off a tree feed the soil beneath and promote new growth; Your mistakes and imperfections make growth and transformation possible within yourself. Your view of mistakes, regrets, misfortunes, bad luck, or however you want to label your negative experiences, contain important elements that feed the wisdom you need to catapult you in the right direction. Stop wasting your time denying, blaming, or beating yourself up because of your missteps. Instead, confront, take responsibility and value them as opportunities to improve.
As uncomfortable as it feels to fall on our face in front of others, that’s the stuff that connects us with each other. Our truth is recognizable and enables us to be more relatable. Our flubs are endearing because they shout, “Hey, I’m human just like you and trying to get by in this world.” In those moments when you can’t stand yourself and feel ashamed, remember; everything you feel is felt by others. Recognizing truth in others, inspires, encourages and helps ease our aloneness during dark times.
Finding ways to deal with your ups and downs truthfully spills out into your work as an actor. There is a sweet moment in the comedy, My Favorite Year where Peter O’Toole plays Alan Swann, a booze-loving one-time swashbuckling, matinee idol, now forced to make a live appearance on a variety show to appease the IRS. Mark Linn-Baker plays the fledgling writer for the show who must keep Swann sober while he is working on the show. When Swann finds out that he is going to perform live on television and viewed by 20 million people, he crumbles in fear. He says he hasn’t performed in front of a live audience in 20 years and the last time he did, he had one line and forgot it. Shouting, “I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star.” He confesses that all the courageous heroes he portrayed in his films are not who he really is. Linn-Baker, filled with love and devotion for his hero, but disappointed in Swann, cries back, “You couldn’t have convinced me unless somewhere inside, you had that courage, nobody’s that good of an actor.”
And that’s the truth. In order for actors to reach the hearts of the audience, they must speak and act from their own hearts. There is no substitute for truth. Meryl Streep understands the concept of truth in acting when she states, ”Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” Two important gifts of living authentically are:
- You develop wisdom and strength to handle the inevitable ups and downs of life.
- Your range as an actor will grow.
Here are three steps to help turn your difficulties into seeds for growth and connection:
- Be Good to Yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself and too quick to self-criticize. Be on your own side. Learn to protect yourself from being mistreated; tell others what you really need. Figure out what you can do to make your life better. Wish yourself well. Let your dreams and aspirations matter to you. Several times a day check in with yourself and see if you are looking out for you’re your own best interest, or selling yourself short to please others. See your inner child and learn how to protect her/him when needed. Remember, no one can ever reject you when you accept yourself unconditionally.
- Take in the Good. According to the neuroscientist, Rick Hanson, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. That shades implicit memory – your underlying feelings, expectations, beliefs, inclinations, and mood—in an increasingly negative direction. Which is not fair, since most of the facts in your life are probably positive or at least neutral. But you don’t have to accept this bias!” According to Hanson, who is a leading expert on changing the brain, “By tilting toward the good—toward that which brings more happiness and benefit to oneself and others—you merely level the playing field. Then, instead of positive experiences washing through you like water through a sieve, they’ll collect in implicit memory deep down in your brain.” And here is the best advice to become a more resilient person: “ You’ll still see the tough parts of life. In fact, you’ll become more able to change them or bear them if you take in the good, since that will help put challenges in perspective, lift your energy and spirits, highlight useful resources, and fill up your own cup so you have more to offer to others.” His book “Just One Thing,” is filled with great practices for developing resilience.
- Relax, Let go and move on. Did you know that stress robs you of your serotonin, (that much needed feel-good brain chemical)? When you don’t have enough serotonin, you get depressed. Stress also tenses your body and wears down your internal organs. It causes health problems like headaches, backaches, heart disease, poor digestion. Make relaxation a priority in your life. Learn meditation (free guidelines) do physical exercise, get rid of your techno gadgets at night and on weekends, it costs you too much to be plugged in 24/7. De-stressing, will lift your mood and enhance your physical state. Learn to be protective of your mental and physical state. Do a thorough spring cleaning of all those negative thoughts that no longer serve you, so that you can spring forward towards the best version of “You.”
The next time you enjoy a lotus flower, remember it can’t survive without mud.
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,a href=”http://bonniekatz.com/”>visit her website.Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.