“I’m not going to think about the possibility of getting this job because I’ll only be disappointed when I don’t.” Does this sound familiar? This is how I used to think when I was an actor, and its something I hear frequently from clients. Let’s have a closer look at it for a second, shall we?
‘I’ll only be disappointed WHEN I don’t book it”– For a start that strikes me as a very clear message to the Universe that you don’t expect it book it. I am constantly reminding my clients of the power of positive thinking. After all,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
More than that, though, I think by refusing to think about the possibility of booking the job, you are denying yourselves a very important part of the process.
Statistically, of course, you know the odds are stacked against you and the final decision on who gets the job is completely out of your control. In that sense the likelihood is you won’t actually book the job. This mean you’re going to feel disappointment anyway. I’m pretty sure (from my own experience) that the disappointment you will feel is still as strong, still as painful – whether or not you have allowed yourself the indulgence of hoping – so why deny yourself the only guaranteed pleasure you’re going to get from the process?
As children we live in a world of imagination. We play with dolls and toys, building elaborate stories around them, indulging our wildest fantasies and working the “Imagination Muscle” – it is this Imagination Muscle that makes your work as an actor so rich and interesting. By refusing to hope, by refusing to believe in the possibility, you’re sending a clear message of disinterest to the Universe, denying yourself what might be the sole pleasure of the audition process, and probably limiting your own development as an actor. I can tell you, again from personal experience, doing that is the fastest way to killing your passion for this career.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to imagine the impossible? When did you last spend an hour, or more, fantasising about the future? We no longer play with dolls, we no longer invent magical worlds or have imaginary friends. But this is exactly what led you to become an actor – your strong, healthy imaginations.
As we get older, we shut down these impulses, we repress our imaginations in order to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves safe. Therapists call this process shielding and soothing. Actually what we should be doing is imagining more, developing the muscle even more, allowing ourselves to feel a whole range of emotions – excitement, anticipation, delight, and yes, pain.
As a child, I wrote hundreds of short stories and little novels. I could lose myself for hours in these stories, inventing ever more elaborate worlds and scenarios. My ten year old self didn’t write them to make money, or to become famous, or to win respect. I wrote them to escape, to indulge myself, to have fun.
When we grow up, we stop imagining things ‘just for fun’ – as actors your imagination becomes part of your job, it becomes work. You use it to enrich or develop a role, to ‘see’ things and hopefully transmit those things to an audience. It is no longer something you do for pure pleasure. In a lot of ways, it becomes something that is seen as a bit childish, a bit lazy “Stop daydreaming and do some work!”, “why can’t you be realistic?” and so we stop imagining things, we stop dreaming. We stop creating for pure pleasure and train ourselves to create for purpose.
Stop limiting yourself. Stop preventing your imaginations from doing what they are supposed to so – creating a wonderful, rich fantasy life for yourself.
Imagination, or to give it a more grown-up word, visualisation, is a key element you should be developing every day. The power of positive visualisation is scientifically documented. To get wanky, it harnesses the power of the Universe and bends it to your will. Visualising doing a great audition actually helps you to give a great audition. Visualising yourself in the way you want to be seen – confident, warm, magnetic, will allow you to BE those things. Every heard the phrase “be the change you want to see'”? It’s so important to see yourself in the way you want the world to see you, to visualise success, to imagine.
You will feel disappointment, of course you will. You may even feel a little foolish for allowing yourself to dream impossible dreams – but no-one but you will know about it, and at least you’ll have had the day, or week, or even just an hour of imagining the impossible – rather than refusing to allow yourself to feel any joy in order to stave off any future possible disappointment.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting. There’s nothing dirty, or sad, or pathetic about wanting something so much that you allow yourself to imagine how it would change your life if you got it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being upset about it either – these are all normal, healthy human emotions – exactly the kind of emotions you need to be able to express as an actor.
Stop denying yourself joy. Stop telling the Universe that good things can’t happen to you. Start imagining possibilities beyond your wildest dreams.