Monthly Archives: April 2011
It’s a great story. A sixteen-year old girl gets discovered sipping a strawberry shake at Schwab’s pharmacy.
(Actually, it might be a myth-within-a-myth because some people say she wasn’t even at Schwab’s. See how illusions prosper!)
Anyway. That story creates the unhealthy myth association within each actor’s psyche that when they move to LA they’re going to be “discovered.” And then when a few years go by and that hasn’t happened yet, the actor thinks it’s never going to happen. That they’re doing something wrong. That they’re talentless. And they stop trying.
The reality of a life in show business is to Just. Keep. Going.
And actually, that’s life. Period.
I was at a restaurant the other night and started talking to this woman, Judy, who sells a new line of tequila. She told me how she’s competing against these larger companies and brands that are more established and that she has to keep hustling and work hard to get her product to different bars. (You may want to support her, btw, as it’s an all female owned and operated tequila company.)
So you see? You think having to forge forward and overcome obstacles is specific to your life. Or to being an actor.
All people in all walks of life are faced with the same challenges.
Rejections are part of life no matter who we are.
So stop sitting around waiting for someone to discover you. Get out there and start getting rejected. It’s all numbers. That’s how careers are made. Harrison Ford says it best:
“There is no way into acting; it’s impossible. I knew that from the beginning. It’s statistically impossible to make a living as an actor. You have to love it, and even your love for it is not going to make it happen. What is going to make it happen is luck and tenacity. I never made a living until I was 35 years old. I came out here when I was 24. But one thing I knew and recognized was that people all around me were giving up and going home. I just, quietly, never gave up.”
Except that you don’t see yourself that way. You see yourself through the dirty mirror of the left-brain’s Maddening Mind Matrix.
That is, when life gives us a big fat “No!” – which it will invariably do if you’re out in the world pursuing your dreams – we personalize the “No” in a way that triggers our left-brain’s default neural groove.
Hearing a “No” isn’t really that big a deal. But when we associate that “No” with incorrect interpretations in our left hemisphere (“I’m talentless.” “It’s never going to happen for me.” “I suck.”) we immediately let the “No” defeat us.
We stop moving forward. We move back to Baltimore. We reach for that Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby. (Which by the way, is amaze-balls! And they have a gay version called Hubby Hubby!)
Or we personalize the defeats by beating ourselves up for the way we look or who we are — thinking that if we were someone else it would just be easier.
Well, first of all, it wouldn’t. (Unless maybe you’re Brad Pitt.) And actually, he’s got his shit too. Everyone does!
So all we need to do is a bit of radical re-working of our brain’s neural wiring. It’s like Frankenstein’s monster. You have to start re-booting your neural groove so you don’t let defeats defeat you.
Why are we wired to the lies of our left-brain and not the truths of our hearts?
Remember, the next time you hear a “No,” it means nothing more than that. Actually it means that you’re in the game of life and every “No” you get brings you closer to a “Yes.”
Stop thinking you’re this:
When actually you’re this:
Watch the Frankenstein experiment with the lovely Amy. “She’s ALIVE! She’s ALIVE!”
“Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight.” — Tom Stoppard
As actors, the conduit through which we tell stories and express is through feeling.
But it’s often hard to access deep feeling when our lives become a defensive gesture in order to survive. We develop a thick armor around us as a means of self-preservation.
I get it. If you’ve been made fun of for being who you are, you become less secure in wanting to share who you are with people. If you’ve been dumped when your heart seems the most open, you become less willing to want to open your heart to someone again.
We start to move in the direction of safety, comfortableness, emotional stasis. We avoid anything that makes us step into something emotionally scary, or could leave us feeling vulnerable or exposed.
But in the avoidance of certain kinds of feeling that scare us or we’re unsure what to do with, or which might be painful – we end up anesthetizing ourselves.
“Doctor! Doctor! Call 911. Stat. I can’t feel a pulse!”
We become emotional zombies in our own lives. And I’m not talking about the cool ones on The Walking Dead.
We numb ourselves. We emotionally go comatose.
The science of feeling is to understand that no feeling exists outside of the whole. In other words, in order to feel anything – including bliss and ecstasy and really feeling alive – you have to allow yourself to feel all feeling — including the stuff you don’t like.
They are all parts of the same whole. To disallow one thing is to cut yourself off from something else.
So this week, stop running away from the thing you dread and just feel it instead. You’ll see that by allowing yourself to actually feel – even if that feeling sucks – you’ll be more alive, more present, more available than you’ve possibly been in a long time. And you’ll actually see that the thing you were so scared of feeling is – really – not that big a deal.
It’s ok to feel. It’s who we are. We’re feeling beings.
Stop thinking your way through life and start feeling your way through it instead.
“What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.” - Joseph Campbell
What is the manifesto of your life?
What are you saying with your life?
If you had to leave tomorrow; what are you leaving behind?
Start paying attention to the narrative you are weaving through your words, actions and thoughts.
If you don’t like your story; start telling a new one.
If you don’t like this chapter; write a new one.
If you don’t like where you are; change who you are.
You get what you give.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough love; give more love.
If it’s easy to complain; try complimenting.
If it’s safe to be cynical; try being hopeful.
If you think it’s cool to be “too cool for school”; it’s not.
Open the doors containing your latent brilliance and genius. They are meant to be opened. They aren’t meant to be shut and ignored.
If you’re not sure how else to live your life’s manifesto, here’s some more examples:
That’s from The Holstee Manifesto.
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a big hearty ‘yes’ to your adventure.” — Joseph Campbell