Are You “Sick Enough” of Something to Do Something About It?

“I’m sick of it.”

We’ve all said it.

And many of us end up allowing that to become our mantra at some point in our lives when we feel stuck and powerless to change. It becomes the battle cry during rough periods in our career. Or while we’re in a rocky relationship. Or when we hold ourselves back in our creative self-expressions.

We’re sick of it. But are we truly sick of something enough to make an effort to change our circumstances? That’s the real breakthrough we’re waiting for. And that’s what being “sick of something” is trying to birth out of us.

Of course our hearts are willing. But there’s this weird trap door in our psyche that gets triggered anytime we move in the direction of changing our circumstances. And that trap-door doesn’t want us to use the escape hatch.

I get it. Birth is messy. It’s bloody and painful and requires holding on while letting go. It’s full of doubts and fears and an utter disbelief that we can bring something so potentially large into the world through an opening that seems so small!

So we often just stay in the “sick” zone rather than shatter our limited beliefs that want to hold us there. We become so accustomed to what’s “normal” and known for us – the safety and comfort of our own marginalized lives – that we’re willing to stay in them even though we end up getting more sick. Sometimes that’s literally. Sometimes figuratively. And we all have a high tolerance for tolerating our own shit. One person’s hitting bottom is maybe merely another person’s comfort zone.

So we end up resenting. A lot. Ourselves mostly. And our lives. Oh and sometimes that’s projected outwards. On a partner or a condition or the business. A teacher or lover or friend. We get to blame our circumstance and the people in them, rather than taking the plunge into making our lives different.

Actress Thandie Newton talks about our ability to change things we’re “sick of” when we feel we can’t. “If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, then express that, write about it, take whatever you can and make something beautiful.” (Watch the entire interview HERE.)

That’s what a creative life is calling you to do. Stop waiting for permission to finally use your life as the substance of something worth sharing and expressing. It’s truly the origin of (your) art anyway.

If we knew we were bigger than the tiny interpretations of our own life events and were as knowledgeable as the universe itself, wouldn’t we have absolutely zero time to be “sick” of anything? The universe is always trying to guide us and show us how to become that which we feel is just beyond our reach. But we get to practice free will (at our own peril!) and often ignore the messages that try to show us how to improve our lives. Or let go of the things that hold us back. But we clutch as tightly as we can, because the alternative (in just opening our hands and letting go) seems to be oblivion.

It’s literally traversing from a part of our brains that are ordered and structured and linear to taking a non-linear leap.

Saying, “I’m sick” of something anyway is just a plea from some part of us that knows it can be freed from the constraints that imprison us. But we’re scared to put it into any other term of specificity – which would require us to take action – so we stay general with it so as not to take action.

“What are you sick of?” is maybe a better way to phrase it. Ask yourself that and watch what happens. A wave of feelings – perhaps anger or rage or sadness or real honesty comes issuing forth revealing what it is that you are really upset about and what you need to do to rid yourself of that which is keeping you sick stuck.

Wouldn’t it be more exciting, if, in a year from now you start a sentence by saying, “I was sick of _____, but I did something about it!”?

 

Actors in Video: Rachel Morgan (left) and Rachel Middleton (right)


How to Expand When You’d Rather Shrink

We all want to expand. It’s our nature to do so. But in order to do that, we have to move beyond our comfort zones which are put into place so that we don’t. Because expansion = change. And change, as we all know, is scary. So we shrink back into our safety net of that which is known and familiar rather than leaning out of the borders that confine us.

When we get bad news or life confronts us with challenges, our first response is often a shrinking mode. But we have the power to re-frame events so that we don’t beat ourselves up and actually begin to see things from a different point-of- view.

When someone rejects us in the business for example, we often get defensive. Our first reaction is to push against. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” “They’re stupid.” “This business is impossible. I can’t take it.” Those are shrinkage thoughts. But all that actually happened was someone expressed an opinion, contrary to what we were hoping to hear.

If you like green peas, and someone said they find peas disgusting, you wouldn’t shrink. You’d probably laugh at the idea, “How can someone hate peas? Peas are like green little planets of goodness!” So why do we over-react when we get news about something we have an expectation invested in the outcome? When our expectations get dashed (which is yet another reason you should have zero!), we want to just think more expansively. “I see their point of view.” “That makes sense.” “No reason for me to shut down or get negative.” “I appreciate they took the time to look at my reel.” “I’m not really a fit with them, but it was great they met with me.” Or whatever it is.

Those are more accurate ways to not personalize what isn’t personal and you’re not creating resistance or a self-sabotage loop or defense against something. You just allow.

From a spiritual perspective – if it’s all divinity (or universal intelligence or life force or flow or whatever you wish to call it) – that means the stuff we don’t like is also divine. You can’t have it both ways. It can’t be that only the good stuff is divine. Or that divinity only exists in America and not other places or dwells within only certain people or religious faiths or lifestyle choices. It has to all be perfect or nothing is perfect. Because you can’t have perfection without imperfection. So when you’re challenged by stuff that wants to shrink you – and you see it as less than holy or okay – then look for an expanded interpretation.

If it’s all divine – when we get resentful or lash out or call someone an idiot, we’re actually doing that to ourselves. If it’s all perfect and we get upset that someone is expressing their point of view, what we’re really upset about has less to do with them and instead what it brings up in us that casts us back into our own shadow.

Don’t do that. Why beat yourself up if you’re a pea and not a carrot? A violin who wishes to be an oboe is like not honoring the instrument that you are made of. Play yourself. And expand accordingly.


Social Media and What Mike Birbiglia and Gaby Hoffmann Say About Acting

Do you ever feel as if every other actor in the world has this magic DNA to be a “star” and that you’re somewhere in this reject pile of boring blandness? Incapable inconsistency? Loser laziness?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to discover that besides talent (which I believe everyone has equal amounts of), success and a career in the arts is more about a combination of less understandable variables. Being in the right place at the right time, landing the right role that matches your essence, having the right people see your work, getting support from key people, catching a break and realizing none of it is actually personal.

Oh, and – working hard, not giving up, studying and growing, persevering when you want to quit, enjoying the process, not taking any of it too seriously – also help.

But I also think nowadays, there are more opportunities for all people of all kinds to break through and create their own work, find ways to be seen, get noticed in innumerable ways and find their own successful niche in a business that’s becoming increasingly fragmented and Wild-West-like.

If you don’t believe me, listen to what two amazing artists say about finding their way through the work and building a career that works for them.

Mike Birbiglia, the stand-up comedian and writer/director recently said in the New York Times:

“Eight years ago, I made a network sitcom pilot based on my life. It was a dream come true. A sitcom about my life? What could be better than that for a standup comedian? Well, it didn’t get picked up. I was devastated. But here’s the kicker: Failing to get that sitcom was the single greatest stroke of luck that’s happened in my entire career. The show wasn’t truly my comedic voice. It was watered down by network and studio notes to the point of being like dozens of other bland sitcoms.

After that, I no longer wanted to create projects for the Hollywood gatekeepers. The networks. The studios. Since then, I’ve created a handful of pieces for This American Life, self-produced three Off Broadway one-person shows, toured hundreds of cities around the world, and written, directed and starred in two feature films. All outside the system. Based on that work, I’ve been offered small movie roles by people who work inside the system. Which is to say: Leaving the system behind and creating something of your own may actually be thing that gets you into the system, hopefully on your own terms. The point is, forget the gatekeepers. As far as I’m concerned, what you create in a 30-seat, hole-in- the-wall improv theater in Phoenix can be far more meaningful than a mediocre sitcom being half-watched by seven million people. America doesn’t need more stuff. We need more great stuff. You could make that.”

And when one of the stars of Transparent, Gaby Hoffman was asked in an interview what she realizes now about acting that she never realized before, this is her insight.

“I still don’t quite know exactly. I know what I love in the experience that I’m having now. . . . I get to go to work every day with really extraordinary people, and our job, and very few people can say this, my job – I am paid to dive deeper into my own humanity, and do that with other people in collaboration. You know when you’re working with people who are really in it to get to the funny real tragic painful truth, then it’s almost like a spiritual experience. I don’t really know what I do, it’s almost like I go into a blackout when I’m acting. I just know that it feels really good, you know, when you connect and you find It. So I am still trying to figure out how to answer that question for myself, but I am every day curious about it. And I’m listening to myself and to all of these other people, and the writers, and everybody that I’m collaborating with and responding, and I don’t know where that’s going to lead me, and every day I discover more about who I am and what about acting turns me on. But also just who I am and how I feel about the world, and there’s nothing more exciting and energizing to me. So ask me again in a few years because I’m just starting to really think about it.”

In other words, you too can do great things, even if you often think you can’t. On your own terms, making it meaningful for you. Not because it has to look a certain way. Those days are gone. You make it look the way that works for you.


The Key to Making Life Work Out for You

The conundrum of life.

We want things.

Love. Money. A hot boyfriend. A wedding ring. A nice house. A TV Series. A great agent.

We think the things we want will fulfill for us the spaces in our heart that desire connection and fulfillment and joy and creation and love. And at one level they do, but at another level, nothing in the material world is sustainable. So the things we seek keep changing to keep satiating that ever-desiring part in us.

But I think that the real fulfillment that we’re all after – the real sustenance through the things we do or the experiences we have – comes from service.

We fall in love. It’s an act of service to another. We create. It’s ultimately an act of service to educate or entertain. We tell stories to serve and inspire and uplift.

It’s in our DNA. It’s the fabric of our very existence. The entire cosmos – if you want to look at it that way – is in service to sustaining life.

The inner part of who we all are is to serve. You are most in alignment with the benevolence of the universe when you are in service.

The question to be asking isn’t, “What can the world do for me?” The world is already doing things for you! So many things that we aren’t even consciously aware of, or we take for granted, or we ignore outright. Generally, we don’t think the world is working for us when we don’t get what we want, so most things that are happening for our own good happen in ways that go unnoticed.

If we could loosen our ego’s hold on how we think something should look, or stop strategizing our agenda, or having constant expectations about…well…everything, we’d find that the world is giving us something perhaps better than we realized.

So rather than thinking of your life goals in terms of achievement, or accolades or money or fame, what if you tried to shift the paradigm and instead, asked, “How can I serve?”

So acting becomes an opportunity to serve. How can I be an answer to their casting problem? How can I go into a casting office and best serve the story by doing it my way? How can I make a difference by serving others through the work I’m creating? How can I serve if I don’t believe I have anything to give? Maybe the first form of service is to realize you do.

When you start to ask those questions, you begin to see that your ability to positively alter the world, to make an impact, to reach people and heal people stretches far beyond the label you use to identify yourself as an actor.

You’re a citizen of the planet. And ultimately, we are all public servants. The moments you’ve probably felt most alive were when you served. You held the door open for someone. You assisted someone who fell down. You volunteered and served meals.

Big acts. Small acts. Let life show you where and how to be of service and make the most magic.

When you let your life flow from this place, counter-intuitively, the ego needs get fulfilled in ways you couldn’t imagine. But your heart will be so full of…well…fullness that everything else is just icing on the cake.


Two Acting Myths That Need to be Broken

You can do it.

You know how to do it.

You are doing it.

What keeps you from doing it fully are two sticky myths about creating that are hard to shake.

1). The “greats” are greater than you. We’re all human. We’re all talented and capable and brave and scared and strong and weak. The problem is we generally berate ourselves for having these human qualities and erroneously think the people who “made it” don’t share the same flawed characteristics we seem to have in abundance. They do. As do your parents. And teachers. And lovers. And heroes.

I had a student who was on a TV set recently and had an “Ah-Ha” moment. He witnessed 4 very famous actors struggle, call out for lines they couldn’t remember, work with script in hand continuously, distrust their instincts and generally figure it out while they were doing it.

Like what we teach in class.

Several times an actor would want to do something, stop himself and the director would call out, “What did you want to do there?” The actor would say something like, “Walk over there!” And the director would proclaim, “Well why didn’t you do that?”

Just like in class.

On set everyone is just figuring it out like you are. No one knows. You gain knowledge by doing it and the more you do it the more you know it and become it.

But you’ll never know all of it, because it’s always going to be new and that’s exciting and what also makes it scary.

2). If I had more time I’d . . .

I’m not sure you would.

An actor said to me recently, “If I had time – like 12 hours a day – to devote to acting then I’d really be doing it.”

No, you wouldn’t. No one, anywhere, is really devoting all their time to one thing.

I just came back from a trip to Croatia and walked the grounds (and castles) of King’s Landing where they partly film Game Of Thrones. (I hadn’t previously seen the show.)

So I finally had a weekend free when I got home and thought, I’ll have like 20 hours to write! And then I turned on Game Of Thrones.

More like Game Over! I wrote maybe 10 minutes the entire weekend. Womp. Womp.

It’s not true that having more time in a day to do things makes you better at things. Sometimes only having 2 hours a day and really letting that 2 hours be a focused practice is more valuable than 12 hours where you do everything but the thing you want to do.

So don’t keep using that as an excuse. So what if you have two jobs and you feel you have no time for anything else right now? Better to be working and living life and meeting people than thinking, “If I had all the time those two jobs are taking away from me, I’d devote fully to my art.” Chances are, you’d probably only use a third of that time, probably less. And all the things that you’re learning while not doing your art is your art.

Of course we have to dedicate time to learning and growing and committing to a career. So find a way to make things work even if you don’t have as much time as you think you should. Don’t confuse where you are with the illusion that your life (and career) would look drastically different if you had all the time in the world.

Break the myths and realize you’re already in the midst of doing the thing that you thought was supposed to look a different way before you started doing it!


Actors, You Don’t Have to Do it All Yourself

Actors.

Give yourself a break. Just for once. What if you tried that?

No one does it all by themselves. Ever. It’s bullshit to think that you have to. It’s fiction. Let that myth go.

Why is it in this profession actors get scared thinking that if they can’t produce something on their own (meaning, get to someplace emotionally or be fully free in a feeling way), they must be untalented? Or incapable? Or lack what “the greats” possessed? Or are going to get fired?

No one does anything on their own.

President Obama has advisors. Golfers have caddies. Racecar drivers have a pit crew. Gymnasts have a coach. Circus performers have clowns (!) and a ringleader and a man who swallows swords for goodness sakes. So, why do you think you have to always be perfect on a take? Or in your work? Or in auditioning? Or in your process?

Actors often ask tearfully, “But why can’t I get there on my own?”

First off – light bulb! – you are getting there on your own. (But with help from others!) Yes, someone (a teacher, director, casting director, friend, mentor, coach) may facilitate that emotional expression or breakthrough but it’s you who’s doing it. It’s not someone in outer space doing it for you. Pulling your strings. You’re doing it! You, in your expression, bring all of you to this ineffable, magical, strange, wonderful moment and you go for it. You trust your instinct, get physical, let out a scream, break into tears, live in the rawness of life itself, fully commit, release into your bad-ass.

You did it. It doesn’t matter that someone was urging you on, “You can do it! You can do it!”

Quite frankly, that is their job.

To achieve a breakthrough and get anywhere we want to go emotionally in our work – ultimately, you’re never going it alone. Even if you feel no one is helping you – just by being an actor you already have implicit help. You have a story and a director and a co-star and circumstances and a set and words and stage directions and a narrative. You have props and costumes and craft services!

Sometimes I get asked that question in class. It happened this week when I was teaching at our London Studio. “Why can’t I get there myself?” The actress just needed a tiny bit of tweaking on a hugely volatile emotional scene (it was about her own death, no less!) and she just went for it. I mean went for it! So much so, I thought I was witnessing her dealing with her own mortality. (Which at a meta level she was – and all of us are.) Scary, raw, vulnerable, terrifying and beautifully human.

“Getting there” on her own also means the actor has to be willing to go there. You have to be open and brave and surrendered. You have to be willing to receive and let go. When the actor is just that – willing – then you get there. And someone often takes you through that door. That’s why it’s a collaborative art form. And that’s also why you are in class working on yourself, evolving, developing, growing as a person and an artist and creating a deeper emotional understanding of who you are and what you’re capable of.

If you’re doing that, rest assured, you are getting there on your own! With, of course, just a little help from some friends.

And isn’t that good to know?


What Every (Wo)Man Needs to Know

What mask do you live in that you’ve outgrown? There are hundreds. The ditz, the brainiac, the dumb-ass, the bitch, the too-cool- for-school, the douche, the weirdo, the sex-pot, the serial apologizer, the victim, the comic relief.

We all know them. And can identify. And they all keep us from stepping into the real people we wish to be.

The masks we adopt serve a function. Without wearing them we’d probably not have survived our early childhood developmental phase. In fact, that’s where they’re generally adopted. We assume a false identity – become someone we’re not – in order to be liked, popular, accepted, embraced and basically become part of the tribe. It’s what most people experience in one form or another throughout their lives.

The powerful documentary, The Mask You Live In, exposes the many masks that young boys (in particular) adopt in order to be accepted as “men” in our society.

But there’s two problems with wearing masks.

1) Those masks aren’t real.

Men are emotionally marginalized in our society because we learn at a very early age to not feel. We’re taught that certain kinds of feelings are desired (and desirable for men to express) and anything else – vulnerability, intimacy, emotional bonding – is associated with weakness and therefore the domain of girls, the feminine or being (gasp!) gay. No young boy wants to have his vulnerability used against him. To be labeled something he isn’t. So instead of talking about our pain and sharing it, we’re taught to externalize it and take it out (generally through aggression) on someone else.

So at a very young age, this is how children are taught to (not) feel. And we spend a lifetime trying to reverse the terribly damaging ramifications.

Young boys (and girls) are taught lies about what maleness (and femaleness – based on male-dominated societies) look like. And they are always exaggerations. So we live in a culture of hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity without realizing our true selves are being co-opted. The actual expressions of real shared feeling isn’t a gender issue; it’s biology, psychology, spirituality and ultimately just being human. At our core we all feel. The same.

So gender roles and behaviors are social constructs that lead to devastating results. No one wants to be ostracized. Even as adults – the real desire for each of us is to be seen and heard for who we are and what we can contribute. When we live in a culture that shapes false-identities, is it any wonder that we’re all running around judging other people who don’t sound like us or look like us or feel like us? And a major disconnect occurs between what we want to actually feel – and express – and what we’ve been told we can feel and express. So we often start hating in others that thing we hate in ourselves, because we’ve been shamed for having it.

In my work with actors over the last 20 years, I’ve discovered that the same research gleaned by social scientists, psychologists and academics – are those we get to the heart of very quickly at our acting studios. It’s simply a laboratory where people overcome their emotional blocks and resistance to all kinds of deep feeling – which is what holds us back as fully-realized beings. That’s the work for each of us. In – or out – of an acting class.

2) Like all masks – you outgrow them.

And this is where it gets really scary. Again, I’ve discovered that each of us is trying to constantly step into this newly realized part of ourselves – our real self – who has often been hidden from us for years. The challenge is to let go of these false selves and really allow ourselves to be seen – emotionally naked and without hiding, defending, or rationalizing – which is one of the scariest transitions ever. And because we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time being something we’re not – when we let go of that comfort of that recognizable persona, it’s petrifying to step into something that hasn’t been fully actualized yet.

It’s like swimming with tiny, non-man- eating baby sharks your whole life and then suddenly being thrown into great white shark-infested waters. With no cage.

Terrifying.

To step into the real you is not unsafe, however. It’s really the journey (if you are awake enough) to realize in this lifetime. And that is a huge gift of awareness to know that you can be so much more impactful by simply being you. Without the mask. That your best self isn’t about hiding the parts you’ve been ashamed of or feel like there’s something wrecked inside you for feeling. It’s the contrary. Feeling, sharing, getting honest, allowing other people to see you for all your humanity – is so much more empowering than any false archetype or model of being you’ve adopted.

So let’s all take off our masks. And you might discover, for the first time, you can actually breathe freely. The way we were all intended to be.


The #1 Thing Actors (and Human Beings) Forget

We’re not doing any of it.

Well sure we’re experiencing it. It’s coming out of our mouths. It’s expressed through our bodies. We feel it.

But what is it? And who are you?

If you don’t know the answer to the first question, I’m not sure you can ever fully know the second (which is maybe one of the most important things to figure out on our journeys here). Sometimes people don’t even bother going deeper to find out.

It’s understandable in a way. We are so deeply identified with our physical-ness, how we look, who we tell ourselves we are, where we came from, and being consumed by our likes and dislikes and opinions and fears and hates that build our lives – that we almost completely delude ourselves into thinking that’s all there is.

If that’s all there is, what happens when those things are taken away from you? Or are challenged? Or fall apart? Or change? Or prove to no longer sustain you? Or are disproven?

You’re sort of fucked.

But you then simultaneously become liberated (if you’re willing to search) because you realize without some sort of understanding of self (other than the self you constantly identify with) – life is very treacherous.

What creates music, art, poetry? How is love expressed? Where does compassion or empathy or hope dwell? If it’s in a person – for sure – these qualities are expressed somehow by us and through us – but are they not also impossible to locate, as they are also ephemeral, mystical experiences that happen to us?

A song comes pouring out of us. We can’t say that we made that. I mean, where does inspiration like that come from? If you think about the word inspiration – which means to be in spirit – then somehow, the exalted experiences we’re all after in life having nothing to do with us after all.

They have more to do with how well we can get ourselves out of the way to have more and more experiences of the transcendental here-and- now. If our heart is opened, there is space for these things to enter. Openness means welcome. Openness means to be filled.

Closed means no occupancy. No room. No space. For anything.

Divine. Maybe that’s too strong a word. Energy. Creativity. Impulse. Intuition. Life force. Love. Purpose. Source. Whatever you want to call it, to be in its flow – in its embrace – is to be fully identified as a human being and a spiritual conductor.

To conduct is to direct and orchestrate. Facilitate. Enhance.

But have we ever considered what our lives might be like if we allowed something else to do the orchestrations? Some other energy to move us in the direction of where we truly need to go? I mean, it’s happening regardless of whether we’re conscious of it or not – as there are always signs and maps for us all along the way. We most often ignore them in favor of controlling our own way, our own agenda.

Womp. Womp.

It’s interesting that no other animal species creates such turmoil, havoc or suffering in their life like that of humans. We just have this uncanny ability to mess with the Chi. Fuck up the flow. Stop the energy. Close the door. Shut out the source.

And that’s why art is maybe still a sacred place where we do that less. Oh . . . we still do it. And boy do we do it! Ugh. We overthink things. We shut down. We judge. We compare. We hold ourselves back. But, we often have more moments of pure joy, freedom, and letting go of the reins in our work than we allow in our day-to- day life. We channel.

This is another reason why art is so important. It keeps us grounded and connected to that life force that is alive inside us and all around us and in everyone and all things and at our disposal if we would only surrender just enough to let it in and do it’s magic. Art does that. We allow that to happen in our art when we become conscious of what that is.

But you aren’t doing it. You aren’t making the magic. And that’s the thing about magic. It’s the illusion that it’s something else that makes it magical. And real magicians know that.

 

 

Actors in video: Hunter Cross and Frances Roper


How Guys and Girls Deal with Feeling Differently

Acting asks us to do things that we avoid in life.

You know, like feel.

Emote. Get angry. Lose our shit. Live in desperateness. Be vulnerable. Do awkward things. Be physical. Trust our instinct. Live privately publicly. Be seen with our imperfections. Stay in conflict.

But it’s hard to call upon and then live in those deep expressions of being human in our work when A) we run away from them in life and B) our natural tendency is to avoid conflict and seek stasis.

Simply, in life when it comes to big conflict, our fight or flight response kicks in.

Generally we run away, shut down, deny, brace for impact, pretend nothing’s happening at all, or get passive-aggressive.

But those options aren’t really what makes for authentic, dynamic, voluminous, free storytelling when it comes to acting.

So life makes us not want to feel and acting is asking us to feel fully. WTF! It’s some major contradictory cosmic joke being played on artists.

But this is why we study. And practice. And attempt and try things. And experience.

This is why we build awareness and expand our consciousness. This is why we become empaths and stop judging (ourselves and others). And as we start to change our relationship to our feelings we are able to more effortlessly feel them and share them. In life and in our work.

It’s not a gender problem. It’s a human being problem. But since men and women both process and express feelings differently, and as feeling becomes more complex (and often more painful) both genders have ways to control and shut down. The goal is to let go of that which needs to be released in order to energetically give rise to story.

Sometimes, I’ve found it’s about allowing ourselves to be more like the other in our work. Basically it’s finding your spirit animal in the other sex! For men, it’s often allowing themselves to be more sensitive, to give themselves permission to feel things that culturally they don’t often allow themselves to feel. Vulnerability.

For women, it’s about getting into the unapologetic part of themselves. To stop saying, “Sorry!” for simply existing and to actually get more into their (manly) ownership of things. It’s okay to be strong.

From a scientific standpoint, we are both. We are all both masculine and feminine energy. We are all Yin and Yang. We’re really just a bunch of sex cells that are genderless until fertilization. We’re all potential.

So let us all allow our heroes to be both men and women. Seeing the qualities in others, regardless of gender, that inspire us to be better human beings. Not because we ascribe them as male or female, but instead as brave, honest, real, compassionate, strong, genuine and electric.

Universal.


Why Every Member of Congress Should Take an Acting Class

As we continue to process the shootings in Orlando, I want to share a few points about how we collectively allow ourselves to feel – and heal – through such a national tragedy.

I simply cannot iterate how extremely difficult, scary, vulnerable, empowering and healing that is.

A thorough examination of self in front of other human beings allows oneself to drop the “act” or persona we’ve been playing for years. (Or maybe it’s playing us without us even realizing it as we’re mostly on unconscious autopilot).

Where do we feel? How do we heal? Why do we segregate? Us vs. Them. To make ourselves feel better about our fears of someone who seems different and yet science says (through the Human Genome Project) that (on average) we share 99.5% of the same DNA sequence of all other human beings.

How do we make conscious choices about actively sharing love in the world? That’s not Pollyanna. That’s empowerment. That’s not New Age “woo-woo”, that’s philosophy.

How do we decrease our footprint of prejudicial exclusion and expand our circle of inclusion?

I’m not different than you because of whom I love. I’m not different from you because I meditate, but you pray. I’m not exotic because I come from a country you’ve never heard of.

’Merika isn’t the Universe. It’s a tiny label we’ve given our home that exists in a solar system with billions of other such homes we’ve never even heard of. That’s ultimately how small and insignificant we are.

We’re human. We get scared. We feel separate. Our reinforcing any belief system that pits us against anyone else only reinforces the illusion of separatism and allows us to marginalize others.

The narratives have to change.

Here’s what our policy makers will learn in an acting class:

We always have a choice. When dealing with tragedy, challenges, personal setbacks, and the unexplainable – we always have a choice in how to respond. Perhaps before reacting (from a memorized script we’ve heard thousands of times before), we each take a breath and ask ourselves, “Is what I’m about to say going to leave the person I am speaking to more uplifted, inspired or hopeful? If not, maybe I could choose not to say it.” What if we sat instead with our feelings rather than reacted? But we have very few spaces to do that nowadays. We live in a culture that demands answers to things immediately. And yet, the natural process of life ultimately takes much longer than the 3-second sound bites we’ve become accustomed to ingesting for things to often reveal themselves.

If you’re an empath – and I hope you are – the things that happen to other people out there also collectively happen to you. There is no me or them. It’s us. It’s consciousness. It’s connection. If you can’t sit with that, at the very least, it’s called compassion. Anyone I can marginalize so that I feel like I’m in control is not empathy. Taking an acting class will wrestle control from your ideas, plans and hands and prostate you at the feet of humbleness realizing we have no control. So trying to create false versions of it are futile.

Feeling is the only way we get liberated from the imprisonment not feeling brings. Interesting paradox; feeling is the expression of our life force, but burying feeling destroys lives. Everyone’s addicted to something. Yes, you are! Cigarettes. Drinking. Shopping. Gossip. Our phones. Porn. Negativity. Facebook. Scrolling Instagram pics. TV. Drugs. Unhappiness. Complaining. If you can admit you are, you’re halfway home. If you can see what the addiction is, you then can probably identify what you feel that drives the addiction into place. Loneliness. Shame. Anxiety. Separation. Depression. Futility. Existential Angst. Fear. In extreme cases, our aversion to going deep into our feeling is what leads to violent explosions of all kinds. If you want to heal, you have to feel.

James Baldwin said, “All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” Catharsis (from the Greek) is the process of purifying or healing through feeling. The expression of it, the release into it, the sharing of it creates renewal, redemption, restoration and ultimately, a life of meaning.

So Congress how about it? Instead of talking, talking, talking about things . . . why don’t you feel them instead?


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