“Most of us go around thinking that not only are the thoughts in our head the truth, but that everyone else has the same thoughts, and holds the same things to be true. This is exactly why people go to therapy. It is to find the things that we take as “truth”, that other people don’t. As soon as we realize that other people don’t necessarily feel the same way, we are freed from the constraints of that old belief.” – Jack Plotnick, New Thoughts For Actors
Ladies and Gentlemen… my new HERO, Mr. Jack Plotnick…
In my on-camera class at The Barrow Group (which has no affiliation with Jack Plotnick, FYI.), I recently made another HUGE self-discovery...
I. Have. Issues.
Lol! It’s true. I know you guys are all in shock at this information.
Fo realz… I’ve got some major negative-thought issues that seriously inhibit my own personal enjoyment of my work as an actor. The end result may be a “good scene,” but at what cost? If I spend the whole time SUFFERING in my own head while doing it, is it really worth it?... NO!
Ugh! Bleh. Torturing oneself with negative thoughts of self-doubt feels sucky and is no way to build a sustainable career. Acting should feel FUN and EASY… and if it feels that way… It’ll probably look that way too.
And by learning how to get these unhelpful negative thoughts gone from my brain, perhaps others will be inspired to do the same. Then we can all be happy, living in our fun, non-judgmental world of creative joy! J Ha!
So here’s my main issue…
When I get overwhelmed as an actor… (for any reason) incorporating new business, new acting notes, new lines, anything that needs to be adjusted on-the-fly with no time for “practice” or “preparation”… I suffer in my own head… big-time… Negative thought over-load!
Why? Because I have this BELIEF that with no time to practice I will never be able to do it RIGHT and hence I am about to FAIL and therefore I am a BAD actor that no one will ever want to work with and my bad acting is about to be recorded on-camera and EMBARRASS me for all recorded time.
~Shudder ~ Terrifying… and TOTALLY FALSE.
Here’s what Jack Plotnick has to say about my negative overreaction to actor-overwhelm:
““If it’s hysterical, then it’s historical.” In other words, if your reaction to something is bigger and more emotional than the situation really calls for (“hysterical”), then you are not really reacting to the present situation, but to some situation in your past (“historical”).”
Oh, Jack... your bounty of wisdom knows no bounds!
Yes. I am being hysterical and I do know that it’s rooted in some historical s*#t. True dat.
However… I do not have to be a victim to these historically ingrained bad habits of the mind! Cut to Jack...
In becoming more self-aware about my self-destructive-self-talk-issue I can now start to practice seeing this issue for what it REALLY is… an illusion of my own creation.
The REALITY is... I am just as capable of being "connected" in a scene with 2 minutes of preparation as I am with 2 weeks of preparation. In fact, sometimes 2 minutes of preparation is preferable, ‘cause I won’t have time to over-think things and end up too polished and boring. Having 2 minutes of preparation forces me to stay in the moment and listen and react because I LITERALLY don’t know what’s about to happen in the scene. Now... if I can just learn to trust and not be so afraid of the "not-knowing" thing... THAT's the key to having a good scene and ENJOYING the experience of being in it.
So, as Jack recommends, when my self-destructive thoughts come up, I can use an affirmation to disempower the negativity avalanche in that very moment… like…
“I release and destroy my need to get this right... F*%k it. Dare to do it WRONG.”
“I am going to take it from where I am. The amount of preparation I have done on this scene is enough for me to approach this scene as an improv.”
That'll shut my "vulture" up, right quick! And that will lead to...
Now I can play! Now I can be in the scene and not be wasting my energy judging my own performance while I’m in it... which is soooo not helpful to doing good work.
And the more I practice this affirmation technique, the better I will get at it. Until, eventually, I will have created a new HABIT Of POSITIVE THOUGHT and my old, forgotten, negative way of thinking won’t even BE an issue anymore.
That’s what I’m looking forward to… And I’ll get there too...
One. Thought. And. One. Affirmation. At. A. Time.
After all… a belief is only a thought you keep thinking. So I might as well spend my time thinking some really good thoughts and begin to BELIEVE that I am a great actor… because if I don't believe it, how will anyone else believe it?
But more importantly, I LOVE acting and I want it to be an enjoyable experience... always!
Anyhoo, enough about me. What about YOU? We've all got issues... and even if you're not an actor, these same skills apply.
What’s your issue? Is there an affirmation that you can create to counter-act it?
Don’t sit idly by and let fear and negative thoughts control you! It’s never going to help you do anything great in this life. And you are a powerful being with love and talent and gifts to give the world, if you will get out of your own way and let your light shine! Soooo, find your affirmation! Listen to your TRUE voice… a voice based in LOVE.
For more inspiration and some really useful tools… check out Jack Plotnick’s FREE online book New Thoughts For Actors: A Practical Guide ToLoving Acting (and even auditioning!) Again.
Vultures are for the birds,
P.S. Just for fun, watch this…