What Do You Do When You Feel Trapped (by your own life)?

Do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Like one of those old-school cartoons where your feet are spinning fast but you remain standing in one place? (Cue sound effect.)

Or maybe you feel like you keep returning to a point in life you thought you had departed from years ago.

Or maybe you’ve just been feeling for a long time that there’s something more; something inside you needing to be expressed and explored before it gets buried or forgotten.

As life unfolds, each of us gets by, moves forward, excels and perhaps even succeeds by being a certain way. It’s a pattern of behavior we adopt at generally a young age that allows us to show up in the world based on the skills and talents that we exhibited long ago that got us rewarded and acknowledged.

We often stumble upon these ways of being. We notice our siblings failures or our classmate’s victories, and then compensate, adopt and compartmentalize to be. . .well. . . a survivor. Often tendencies were thrust upon us without us even knowing what they were.

The problem is, just like anything in life, we outgrow them. Then what?

So you’ve been the perfect wife. Or the intellectual. You’ve been the apologetic sibling or the tough guy. You’ve been the comedic goofball or the wild & dangerous one. And then . . . you no longer want to be that. (Or being that keeps you from being all the other things you also are.) And being that has gotten you what you wanted. So our inner circuitry says, “If we let that go, then I’ll lose everything I know and have.”

That can be a very scary place of discovery and there aren’t a lot of manuals that suggest how to move through these phases of life where everything that seemed to work for you, no longer does.

Security is a trap. Getting what you want can be a trap. Not at first. It’s fun. It’s fulfilling. It’s what we thought we were seeking. Until you get it and become accustomed to it, are bored by it, but can’t let it go to break free to create anew.

Inherently, creativity itself has no end point because all forms of creating give rise to deeper and deeper explorations of discovery. But if you stop at the level that security and comfort often takes us (whether it be a job or relationship or making money or a career), without exploring more deeply and truthfully within it, you’re doomed.

Acting as a vehicle of self-discovery is the most beautiful tool to continue to stretch you into new phases of your own life. Just as you can’t play a teenager in a scene or on a show when you’re 30 (ummm…except for maybe Melrose Place!), similarly, life asks us to be brave and step into new roles that phases of life generate without bringing all that we previously know that defines us with it.

This comes with consciousness. It comes with this awareness that everything that has gotten me here isn’t going to be what I need to get me to where I want to go. Or maybe you’ll discover they didn’t work to begin with but they were put into place so you just relied on them.

When awareness – through non-denial – allows us to recognize patterns that are holding us back then you automatically have the tools to change those patterns to break free.

And that’s the beautiful, forgiving, redemptive quality of life. The very thing that life has allowed us to build so wonderfully, also gives us the power to re-examine and transform who we were into something else. Before it’s too late.

Do that. And you won’t be trapped.

 

Actors in video: Brooke Sorenson and Rachel Morgan


What David Bowie and Alan Rickman Taught Us About Acting

What Alan Rickman & David Bowie Taught Us About Acting.

We lost two greats from the acting and music world last week. Their insights about creativity and how to be a bad-ass will be missed.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

I thought it was worth sharing some of their inspiring words to help us have greater creative courage. And their advice is weirdly similar in how to be a great artist of any kind and combat the fear that strikes us as we move forward on our journeys.

Mr. Rickman was asked by a young actor once, “What advice can you give me … I’m thinking about training, I want to be an actor?” His response? Pure genius.

“I say forget about acting. And I really mean it at that point in time, because whatever you do as an actor is cumulative. So I say go to art galleries, listen to music, know what’s happening on the news, in the world, and form opinions, develop your taste and judgment so that when a quality piece of writing is put in front of you, your imagination which you’ve nurtured has something to bounce off of.”

What he’s conveying is that we have this obsession with acting training thinking it has to do with how well we understand and rehearse and memorize and practice a scene. If we put something up “perfectly” we’re growing as an actor. But without pulling from our own lives and being willing to share that, how can we possibly ever understand a scene or bring it to life? We have nothing to offer. It’s about our own blood and guts and tears and opinions and point of view of things. That comes from living.

Oh… and courage!

Courage in showing who you are. He goes on to say, “And then you have to start learning about courage, I think. Because you have to be courageous with yourself on stage, I think, emotionally. …One thing that actors and dancers, singers, musicians do is to actually use both sides of their brain at the same time, because you have to hand yourself over completely to whatever the emotional demands of the part is… [and] at exactly the same time assessing what’s happening out there, and what’s happening there to the person you’re talking to…but at the same time the bit of you that doesn’t know it’s lying, because of course we’re divided from the neck up, it’s just a load of lies, but the rest of you has no idea that it’s lying. So that’s the punishing part of acting, is taking the rest of your body to this strange place that it finds it hard to recover from.”

David Bowie touches on the same things in giving oneself over totally to the moment in creating and that if you are in your head judging and thinking about what you are doing, you’re basically screwed.

“If I’m going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about. There is no progress without failure, and each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience’s taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.”

When you go into an audition room, when you’re on set, when you perform or do a take of a scene – do it fully. Go for it and do it the way you want to do it. Don’t question if this is correct or am I doing it right, or is this what they want or is this the way the scene should go? Do it your way. If they want it a different way, they will tell you. But that will come out of you being brave enough to be you and do it the way that only you can. The person watching will see you and what’s unique, beautiful and weird about you. Just like we saw (and loved) in both Rickman and Bowie.

Courage!

 


How to Win Back Your Power

How to Win Back Your Power

We’ve all been there.

In a meeting, negotiating what we want, during an interview or even sometimes in personal relationships. Something is said that makes us lose our centeredness (sometimes for a second, sometimes irreparably) – and we no longer engage in that interaction from a place of empowerment. We start doubting ourselves, shrink, question our abilities and our confidence sags.

We are these amazing, powerful, beautiful forces that suddenly become inert. Where did you go?

When we’re in situations where we have projected our power onto the other person – and perceive them as being more influential, knowledgeable or more esteemed than we are – we often can lose our center, thereby shrinking from our point of view.

So our own personal self-worth becomes lower than someone else’s opinion, approval or acceptance or love of us. So we value their comfort more than our own feeling of discomfort in having to tell the truth. We’d rather be in pain or feel anxious or uncomfortable than to question someone’s authority – which may lead to their own discomfort. We don’t want to rock the boat. Have our opinion heard. Come across as difficult or temperamental. Not get what we think we want.

So we make excuses for why we can’t say something.

They know better. They’ve been doing it longer. They’re powerful. They’re smarter. They have what I want.

I recently had a friend tell me how he was in a big meeting and he just got thrown by something that was said to him and from there on out, was flustered and completely felt powerless.

As he was telling me the story, I asked him, “Well why didn’t you just tell them what you’re telling me now?”

Light bulb.

We generally don’t have a problem expressing to friends or family when we feel we aren’t being heard or are being compromised in some way. When we have an opinion, we voice it! But when we assume someone has the power – because they are more attractive or wealthy; famous or have our answers – we lose our footing.

But we also disempower ourselves in other situations when we make different excuses for why we can’t express our truth. We say nothing because we believe the person we need to tell is too emotional, unhinged, messed up, immature, dramatic, f*&ed up, out-of-control, fragile, or recovering from something that will upset them too much. It will ruin their day. Send them over the edge.

Sound familiar? We’ve all allowed someone else’s perceived shortcomings be an excuse for not telling the truth. So we’d rather not ruin someone else’s day and speak honestly than get free.

Let’s change that. Win your power back. Being authentic doesn’t mean you are hurtful or unkind. It’s simply about not letting someone say something to you that demoralizes you or renders your opinion neutral. The irony is, when people say or do something to us that makes us feel uncomfortable – they have zero problem expressing it. They don’t feel discomfort in saying something they think, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel. Their self-value is higher than their concern about our opinion of what they’re going to say.

We need to be more like that. Not cavalier or reckless with our opinions. But brave enough to tell the truth even if that truth might be perceived however it’s going to be perceived.

The truth is; it’s going to anyway. So speak up. Ask questions. Express yourself. And stop putting your needs second to someone else if you’re scared they aren’t going to like it. How are you able to show up for anyone else’s life fully if you can’t show up for your own?


7 Ways to Re-think Your Career (and Life!) in 2016 – Part 2

6. Worse Case Scenario Exercise.

If you were to do the one thing you knew you had to do to get where you wanted to go, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I mean the absolute worst thing?

Go ahead and think through the worse case scenario in detail. For example: Let’s say you get a great manager. Worse case scenario is you get sent out, you embarrass yourself in auditions, never book a job, get terrible feedback, are blacklisted from a casting office, get dropped by your rep, never work again, and then your entire career is over and you move to Siberia! Do you see the ridiculousness of that scenario? We laugh about the jump in logic from getting dropped by a rep to living in an inhospitable winter-land, but that’s where our fears often take us! We take so many extra steps away from reality to hold our dreams in fear instead of in possibility.

Now, shift your thinking away from the worst case. Why can’t you get a manager? Why can’t you book a job? Why can’t you be a lead on a show? You don’t have to be Meryl Streep. You’re a human being with a story to tell. You’re here.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worse thing that can happen if I do this?” Actually answer the question, and then do it anyway.

Put another way, ask yourself what’s the one thing today that if you weren’t scared of ________, you would make happen?

SPOILER ALERT: That blank isn’t real! It’s not the real story of what’s going on. You may believe the story, or you may have friends who support that story, because it’s comfortable to never have to test your assumptions. But there is no reason you can’t do the things you want to do.

7. Acting Is Not Near As Precious As We’ve Been Taught.

An actor I work with recently booked a role on a major TV series, and when she got to set, she had a realization: no one really knew what they were doing. Sure, there was a plan for the day, a schedule, a shot list, producers, a director, a call-sheet, a great craft services table (!) – but at the core of it all, everyone was just trying to figure it all out as it was happening.

Acting isn’t precious. It’s about problem solving. It’s about getting truthful. It’s about putting out fires.

It’s about working within a budget and doing the best we can against all obstacles.

It’s not as much “craft” as it is blood-and-guts rolling up your sleeves and getting messy in the work.

The work is to figure out the work.

If you stop holding what you want in such high esteem, then you’ll start breaking through. It’s reachable in the here & now, where you are. It’s not mythic or other-worldly or achievable only by “the greats”.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful of our art or saying we shouldn’t strive to reach new levels in our personal expression of it. I am, however, about breaking the (bullshit) illusion that it’s beyond reproach and so preciously held higher than we mortals could ever aspire to achieve.

The entertainment world has been democratized. You have unprecedented access to creating. Some people still go the traditional route of stepping into a big agency and landing a successful TV show, but there are now 10,000 other ways to get where you want to go.

So don’t continue that narrative of “I can’t,” “I never,” “I won’t,” “I don’t.” Get out of that mindset that only supports the worst outcome. Realize it’s all right in front of you. Not above you. Right here, all around you.


7 Ways to Rethink Your Career (And Life) pt. 1

7 Ways to Re-think your Career (and Life) in 2016 pt.1

What??! A new year is upon us already. Gulp. Forgo the resolutions (which have scientifically been proven to not ever win out!) and instead, try to take a more practical day-to-day approach to the work, your career and your life’s goals and purpose. With little steps come big victories.

1. It’s not personal.

There are going to be setbacks in your life and career that hurt on a personal level. I mean we bleed!

You’re going to get cut and be wounded in this game of life. I have a student who got mostly cut out of (sorry for the knife metaphors here) a major TV show he had booked. It was a big role, but when the show finally aired, he mostly ended up on the cutting room floor. (Or I guess nowadays, it’s the trash bin icon on the editor’s computer.)

It hurts, I get it. (Especially when you invite friends over to watch the premiere. Womp. Womp.)

But here’s the thing. It happens, it’s the business, he’ll be okay, and so will you. It’s not a reflection on you as an actor. All you can do is show up, do your work, and let it go. You got the credit, you got the paycheck, and most importantly, you had the experience. It’s time to keep moving on.

2. Face Down Your Boredom.

Boredom is inevitable for creatives. And it’s essential. Our obsession with – and addiction to – our phones makes boredom even more insidious. We get on an endless facebook or twitter loop or go down the Instagram hole. This isn’t what we need to be doing when we’re bored. Science shows our brains need to have moments of repose. That’s a re-charging center for the brain. Literally doing nothing. That can’t happen when you’re constantly surfing social media to make yourself feel bad about your boredom (and your life).

Louis CK says: “ ‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world what you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”

3. It’s about the work.

Sometimes underprepared people get through the cracks, but ultimately, success in acting comes from doing the work. Be prepared. Get your acting together. So what if someone else got a job because they have 10 million social media followers? If they can’t do the job, they won’t keep getting the opportunity. So keep honing your craft in class, keep making your own work, keep the company of other artists doing the same, and stop comparing yourself to everyone else. It’s your life, dammit!

4. Never start a sentence with “I never…”

Is it even true when you say, “I never … Fill-in-the-Blank.” Probably not. If it is, stop saying it anyway. Change the attitude, change the narrative.

When we change the stories we tell ourselves, our reality will adjust to the new narrative. You’re worthy of the things you want, and if you work toward those things with a positive mindset, you will be amazed at how things can change.

5. Instagram is the new resume.

Instagram and other social media platforms are not going anywhere. Stop complaining about it. Get over it. We don’t moan about needing headshots (well, we do, but we get them, because they’re a part of the business). Same with all the new social media Apps popping up every day. It’s another point of access to achieving your goals. It’s a social tool. It’s a way of sharing your views of the world. Or it’s just another part of being alive in 2016. Stop comparing and despairing. Put your beautiful face on your App of choice and start using it as an expression of yourself. Because it is. (But don’t get addicted and use it constantly out of boredom! – please see #2 above!)

Part 2 of this Blog next week.


The Rules of Acting

The Rules of Acting

There aren’t any.

Whatever works for you to get you into the moment and present and fully available emotionally is a way into acting. That’s life.

We often doubt our natural abilities because we listen to what the “experts” say – especially for years – thinking that if we don’t subscribe to a certain way academia often teaches there must be something wrong with us.

So we spend an inordinate amount of time distrusting ourselves.

I know I can’t be a brain surgeon and cut someone’s head open without years of study and practice – so obviously, I advocate taking an acting class because of how much one can learn and grow. But some of the greatest actors have never taken a class or “studied” and they are just as honest as those coming out of a conservatory program.

There are no absolutes.

Acting isn’t a medical procedure. It’s not reducible to one simple pat method. All ways of working simply try to get the actor to be more honest. What I keep coming back to is applying life-isms to your approach to the work and you’ll find your way.

1). We only have a moment. The physics of life is distilled into tiny blips of experience. To act means to be available to those experiences in each moment.

2). We only have our breath. It’s life itself. It’s connected to all feeling and is the moment. Without breath, there is no moment of life. We completely take breathing for granted – and maybe at one level that’s good because it does itself. But at another level, to start becoming conscious of our breath and how we don’t mindfully breathe – starts to give us access to relaxation, de-stressing, presence, intuition, and feeling.

3). Stop trying to reduce things. I was shooting something recently and tried an experiment. The lead guy and girl had never met before (in real life) and in the story, they meet for the first time at a café and possibly have a love affair upon meeting. I was driving with the actor to set and said to him, “Let’s go all Method here and not have you meet [the woman] until we start filming – so we actually capture that moment for the first time. Just as an experiment.”

Great theory.

Like most things in acting (and life) – the truth of the moment supersedes our ideas of how we want something to look.

As soon as the two actors met on the first take, we had to stop and adjust the camera. Then we started rolling again, but by then they were standing there waiting for us for at least 10 minutes. Then we had to stop again because there was background noise. Then we did a take. Then we moved the camera around. We tried another take. Then the lights needed to be tweaked. By then the actors were eating snacks together, took a bathroom break, exchanged selfies, drilled their lines and talked about where they were from. The idea of maintaining an artifice was destroyed.

Acting is pretend anyway – but the illusion you’re setting up some alternate reality simply becomes shattered by real-world-scenario demands.

If I’m an actor and I want to really “inhabit” my character and immerse myself in the role and believe I am that character fully . . . then where does it end? If you’re playing a Neanderthal and are grunting throughout the day to stay in character, what happens when you’re hungry? Are you going to craft services to eat a doughnut? Did cavemen eat doughnuts? Did they have them in 10,000 BC? What happens when you have to go to the bathroom? Are you still “in character” when you use the on-set port-a-potty? Or do you take a shit in the woods? When you’re wrapped for the day, does your driver take you back to your 5-star hotel or do you sleep in the forest?

My point is there are loopholes, concessions, deviations, fakes, cheats, shortcuts, inconsistencies, compromises, negotiations, allowances, tricks and incongruencies that are made. Always. In life and in acting. Does this mean you’re not committing or being honest? No. It just changes the conversation about what we think acting is and what it really boils down to.

Ourselves. A moment. And what we choose to do in it. Or as Gary Oldman says, “You take what you know and you put it through your own prism. If I play characters that break down or cry, it’s Gary Oldman crying; it’s not the character crying.” And as social researcher (and most popular TED Talker Amy Cuddy with almost 30 million views) says, “Who you are is better than something that seems scripted and choreographed that you don’t believe.”


1 Way to Finally Solve the Casting Problem

As actors, you’re going to have many victories and many periods where nothing is happening, but both of these periods are essential to when you book the job. When you’re not booking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something inherently wrong, or that you have to go seek out a new magic formula that is going to help you book more. The magic formula is you. You are enough.

That is exactly what casting directors are looking for: you.

They want to see what you do with the material, not some pre-calculated, micromanaged performance that you think is going to win them over.

You are the answer to their casting problem. Who you are essentially is exactly what casting directors want to see. Great news, right?

Sounds easy. But it isn’t.

Actors are masters at self-sabotage.

The moment is going to give you 99.9 percent of what you want—but the moment is uncontrollable. Actors want to control, to go through audition sides meticulously and beat out a scene and ignore their instincts, and then put on a controlled, perfectly thought out performance of what they think the casting director might be looking for.

We second-guess and ask ourselves questions like, “Is this too much? Is this what they’re looking for? Is this correct? Do they like me?” But this is never going to get you cast.

Because…drum roll, please… no one cares.

The casting director doesn’t care. The director doesn’t care. They just want to see you and what you do with the material in the moment!

 The casting director and director want something, but they often aren’t sure what it is until they see it—until they see you.

You can become the answer to their casting problem if you allow yourself to do it your way! You have something unique and wonderful and weird and beautiful to share just by bringing yourself to the audition.

We’re programmed to think we are not enough, to not trust ourselves, to cover ourselves up with over-preparation and unnecessary questions and trying to be someone else or some idea of what we think the casting director wants.

Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to “get you.” So what? If you’re always trying to neutralize yourself for all people all the time, what are you left with? Nothing.

Isn’t it refreshing to realize that not everyone is going to “get you” and accept it and move on and just be you! Some people love Jennifer Lawrence, some people don’t. I don’t think she cares!

Accepting this, being yourself unapologetically and beautifully in life and in the audition room—that’s empowering. It takes courage to go into a casting room and be who you are. If you do this, some people are going to get you, and that’s how you break through and book the f#©king job!


Two Simple Ways to Have Breakthroughs in Life and Acting!

Breakthroughs.

Where do they come from? What do they mean? Can you have them if you’re trying to have them? Or do they just occur when we least expect them?

Breakthroughs occur in two ways.

1). Through effort.
2). By letting go.

But I think they are intertwined and require a little of both.

When we push to grow, lean into discomfort, reach to move past our fears and tendencies that hold us back – that exertion – to show up, take a class, learn, develop skills, talk openly about our challenges become an active part of the breakthrough process. To breakthrough means to get to a new level of awareness. That’s difficult to do if you constantly do the same thing. No awareness is created in stasis. So the breakthrough generally does not happen when we sit on our couch watching endless hours of TV, or swipe away countless dates on Tinder, or “like” another picture on Instagram . It occurs by actively participating in the desire to know more about who we are than we did before.

That’s not easy. Most people do not seek. And it requires moving past a lot of our shit sometimes in order to reveal the breakthrough that can’t come without us moving past our shit!

The second part of a breakthrough occurs at the level of letting go. In meditation terms, teachers of a contemplative practice often talk about how as you go deeper in your practice you’ll discover tiny glimpses (or gaps) that happen between your thoughts. Our minds are constantly running on autopilot – even more so today with our chemical addiction to our phones. (Read this scary piece.) But in moments of repose, when we actually just allow our brain to be a brain and not constantly jam it with data like an outworn computer from the 80’s that has no hardware capacity to take on that much junk – we get a tiny glimpse of a moment between thoughts.

Those moments occur, as I mentioned, in meditating, taking a walk, often when we’re in the shower or relaxed. They come from a place beyond the mind chatter as a hunch, and “Ah-ha”, an insight or intuition. Oftentimes they are a breakthrough themselves in how you see your current situation – where you might be stuck or challenged – or they might lead to an idea that if followed through – creates its own breakthrough just by following that act.

So letting go might also make you realize that the breakthrough in your awareness now needs to be carried out into action.

You have an idea for a screenplay. It finally dawned on you that you deserve better than you’re two-timing partner. You want to quit your job, move to Seattle and start that bed-and-breakfast you always wanted. A lightening bolt of awareness hits you like a ton of bricks that you’ve been wasting your life (and talents). You realize you can do it (whatever it is).

All these breakthroughs are huge. Bravo. Our bodies are constantly seeking homeostasis – normalcy – so the fact that you’ve done enough exploring beyond your comfort zone to evoke a breakthrough just goes to show you how capable you are.

Don’t let them fall to the wayside – like many of our breakthroughs do. If we’re not brave enough to act on them, they will be just that. Great ideas. Epiphanies. Eureka! moments. Extraordinary discoveries. “Ah-ha’s” of the most creative kind. Left to go the way of the junk heap. A sad loss of the purpose of the breakthrough anyway. And what we’re left with is a breakdown. Which is simply the energy of a breakthrough not expressed.

But more on that another time.

PRE-ORDER ANTHONY’S NEW ACTING BOOK!
Book the F#©king Job! A Guide for Actors

ACTORS IN VIDEO:
Tiffany Daniels
Daniel Cummings


10 Life Hacks To Get What You Desire In Life

Life. We’re all in it together.

As we near the end of the year, here are 10 ways to set you squarely on your path for 2016, aid you on your journey, and ultimately lead you to getting what you desire in life (because you deserve it!):

1). It’s possible. We live in a world of possibility. Whether you think it’s possible or not, makes it so. Negative brain chatter and self-doubt can make our dreams appear impossible to achieve. But just keep reminding yourself that’s it’s possible. Dreams come true everyday. And here’s one of my favorite quotes to remind yourself every morning when you wake up that you’re waking up to a world of possibility:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn

2). It’s available to you. If you can think it, if you can dream it; if you believe it’s possible, then it’s out there! You just have to find a way to match with what it is you’re wanting. Belaboring what isn’t working in your life doesn’t get you any closer to what could be working. Change your attitude about things and you’ll find new access to things you thought weren’t attainable.

3). You deserve it. Despite what we tell ourselves on a daily basis. (“I don’t deserve it. Who am I to get what I want? Who am I to find the perfect partner? Who am I to book that movie? I don’t deserve it. I’m not worthy.”) Newsflash: You do. End. Of. Story. Let go of guilt, self-judgment, and negativity that keeps you stuck in the cycle that you don’t deserve it.

4). When you are lit up – when you’re doing it, talking about it, creating it – then it’s It. That’s a sure sign that you’re doing something you love and that you’re on your path. Ever notice the glow around people, the energy they have, how they light up a room when they’re doing or talking about something they love and are passionate about? That’s being “lit up”! So, what lights you up? Go there.

5). You are here to shine. Some people will try to dim your light by giving you reasons why something won’t work. Shine regardless. And don’t let their non-reasons of why something isn’t possible dim your light.

6). You don’t need someone else’s permission. What are you waiting for? Jump in. Create. Write that script. Shoot that web series. The exciting thing about the time we’re living in is that you no longer need to wait for the supposed gatekeepers to give you permission to create. Give yourself the green light and realize that’s all you’ve needed all along.

7). Know you can do it. (Even when you doubt that you can.) Despite the evidence that runs counter to what it seems you want, life is about moving forward even with our doubts. Things will trigger your stuff. You’re going to have setbacks. There will be obstacles. Don’t let short-term stumbles keep you from the long-term victory.

8). You’re good enough. Just decide that you’re good enough. Just do it. Make it your mantra. If we constantly compare ourselves to someone else – someone smarter, hotter, more successful, more popular (on Instagram!), more talented – we can never break through with our own victories. They will always be compromised by comparing them against someone else’s. Michael Fassbender said it best:

“My goal was for acting to become my main income. I would say to myself, ‘I’m good enough.’ That became my mantra.” – Michael Fassbender

9). Don’t play small. You’re not serving anyone, least of all the universe, by playing small and preventing yourself from being, doing, and having all that you want to be, do and have. Dream big. Go for it. Give the fullness of your gifts to the world. The world deserves it, and so do you.

10). Fuck it. You have nothing – absolutely nothing to lose – and everything to gain. We have to change the optics. Lean into risk. Follow your instincts. Keep listening to that inner voice that pushes you out of your comfort zone. As weird, wild, icky, strange, anxiety-ridden and gross as it feels – discomfort is the only place that ultimately gets us to what we really want. There is simply No. Other. Way. So feel the feeling and do it anyway.

 


10 Ways to Stop Fearing and Start Feeling

After the Paris attacks, the Dalai Lama said, “We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, ‘Solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.’ We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values of oneness and harmony.”

A recent NY Times video interviews a woman (only referred to by her first name), Carmela, who lives above Belle Equipe Café, where 18 people lost their lives.

She, and her two daughters, heard the gunshots.

“At one point I said, ‘Don’t be frightened.’ And I remember thinking that’s the most ridiculous thing. You are frightened and I am frightened and we have to share it rather than pretend it’s not there.”

Sharing what we’re feeling.

One of the best ways we can honor the victims of the terrorist bombings – and also harmonize and foster a greater sense of peace and well-being in our own lives as the Dali Lama suggests, is to start recognizing how we feel. And share what we feel.

So, we pledge to do our best. We renew and start again with a new understanding of what it takes to live a life worth living.

1). I will not let fear be my first reaction to things. (And if it is, I will share that I am scared instead of pretending I am not.)

2). I will choose to start sharing more often what’s going on with me, rather than shutting down, running away, checking out, displacing, anesthetizing or otherwise avoiding what I feel.

3). I will talk to someone about my feelings. Especially feelings I have shame around and have strong judgments against. Sometimes that could be a lover or friend or relative. Sometimes that’s going to a therapist to work through deeply rooted issues that are holding us back.

4). I will stop holding myself back.

5). Holding myself back comes from having a level of feeling wanting to be expressed outwardly but instead finds its way underground to not be expressed. This creates resistance.

6). In spite of how I incorrectly see myself – and therefore hold myself back – I’m going to do something anyway as if I were the bad-ass that I am. Another way of doing it is channeling my inner acting hero. If I were Jennifer Lawrence, how would J. Law do this? If I were Tom Hardy, how would I do this?

7). I will stop being scared of feelings. They’re just feelings after all. The last time I looked, no one died of feelings. People die from guns. And explosions. And weapons. And knives. And bombs.

8). I will take one thing – just one thing – that is making me feel badly about myself – which is simply a feeling not being expressed and instead eats away from the inside – because I’m too scared to attempt that thing through which this feeling wants to be expressed. And I am going to follow this one thing through.

No matter what happens that will try to derail me – I will attempt to do this thing until it is complete. It could be calling and then finding an agent. It could be going to the gym. Or writing a screenplay, or taking an acting class, or asking someone out on a date, or getting new headshots, or moving to NY.

9). I will take one bad habit – which is just displaced energy (and feeling) not being manifested creatively, and then therefore channeled into a bad habit – and I will give that habit up in return for doing the above-mentioned thing I’ve been avoiding.

10). These things seem to be the least I can do. I can do these things. I can create and get out of my own way and live a life more openly expressed, which in turn, fosters a greater sense of harmony and peace. From within. And seems to commemorate people’s lives lost in some small way, who no longer can create.

Because all we can really do is start with, and change, ourselves.

 


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