The Secret To Being Positive: An Actors Guide

The Secret To Being Positive: An Actors Guide

#mentalhealthawarenessweek

As creatives, we are going to experience an unusual amount of rejection. Our industry functions in a different way to most. It is more like project management; when one project finishes you must look for the next one. We don’t have a job interview and then have the luxury to stay for 10 years within that role, instead we have audition after audition, and we aren’t always going to be the right fit for every role. This is because our talent, taste, quirks, and mannerisms, that make us unique, won’t always adhere to what a director and casting director want that time. Thus, actors need a POSITIVE mindset. Below I discuss  why having one will help you achieve great things in life, in and outside of acting, and how it will help you embrace the industry – staying in it for the long haul. I also explore toxic positivity with you; what it is, why it is harmful and how to spot it and stop it!

PAST IS IN THE PAST

When you go to an audition or to pitch a script/project, no matter how well it goes, you will walk out wondering what you could have said differently or done better. This is natural. It is how we learn. Opportunities feel rare sometimes, so we must make the most of them. Remember if you know you did YOUR best, then that is all you can ask from yourself. It will not help dwelling on the past or replaying the scenario over and over afterwards. What you can do is:

  1. Have an affirmation for every week – choose an affirmation that you will listen to or speak out loud 3 x or until you believe it. Try “I am worthy of this meeting/audition” or “I am talented and will share that talent today regardless of the result”. This helps me in any situation.
  2. Before the audition/meeting – picture how you want it to go. I believe in visualisation, regardless of how hippy dippy that may sound, even having that thought may influence you to feel more confident like you were in your vision; thoughts lead to actions.
  3. During the audition/meeting: Enjoy it! My new approach is regardless of whether I get that role or not – right now that role is MINE. In those 15 minutes of an audition I get to play it out the way I imagined, I get to be that person this is based on fictionally or non- fictional, justice. It is YOUR time so use it up as though YOU are that role and you ALREADY have the job. Why? All your hard work, homework and prep is not wasted because you got to ACT 😊
  4. After the audition/meeting – write down what went well. Be realistic though, if there is something you really messed up write a note for next time so that you can learn from your mistakes. We all make them. Now LET IT GO, it is in the past. Onto the next!

POSITIVITY = RESILIEINCE

When you have a positive mindset, always seeing the good in a situation or the lesson to be had, you become more resilient. I have experienced jealousy, bullying and emotionally abusive relationships. However, my positivity has helped me grow a resilience and strength. Positive people are not unrealistic, in fact we are very in tune with situations and people’s ulterior motives, what we are is optimistic. This means, we find the lesson in those that hurt us, we find a silver lining to a bad experience and we seek self -improvement and growth instead of just blaming others. Positive people do not often quit but they do know when to let go. They understand why constant negativity is not productive and try to lessen their engagement with those that are not a positive and healthy influence on them. When I say constant negativity, I am not talking about a friend, family member or work colleague that is going through a REALLY hard time. I am talking about someone that is putting you down constantly, speaking ill of other’s all the time and revels in the unhappiness of others. That to me is negativity. Not someone who may be going through depression or a difficult time; that’s just human. I have many friends who have very tricky lives and yet always find something to smile about. It gets them through – keeps them going. To practice resilience, the following works well for me:

  1. Think about past hardships/mistakes – what were the lessons you took from them? Next time you experience a difficult time in your life, this will serve as practise so that you can find the lesson and feel more at peace with a situation in the future.
  2. Take action to better a situation – Sometimes, we will work with people we don’t particularly gel with or have difficult things happen to us. So, we must always find a way to lessen or solve the problem. If you are on set and don’t seem to get involved in the chat with them even though you have tried your best, perhaps the only way to lessen this problem is by focusing on the job at hand and journaling the experience when off set. This way you are releasing tension and not seeking other people’s validation. You are there to do a job so enjoy it as there will be another soon – where the people may be a better fit. Plus, the lesson to be had here is not everyone will like us, and we don’t need to force them to. They will remember you for your hard work and professionalism.
  3. Find ways to adapt – sometimes life does not go the way we planned, so always be flexible to adapting your goals and finding new ways to get there.

TOXIC POSITIVITY

Have you ever felt down, anxious or gone through a struggle and decided to share with people you know, only for them to come back with “this happened to you for a reason…” or “you’ll be fine”? even worse “Good vibes only”.  Do you then feel frustrated and hurt that your valid feelings have been undermined and dismissed? Those statements are called toxic positivity and it is harmful. Being positive is a great way to live the life you deserve, and I encourage it. The happier the thoughts the better you feel. However, that does not mean because you are a positive person you will not feel negative emotions or sad. Life will throw crazy stuff your way and being positive just means you are able to talk about it, figure out what your thoughts and feelings mean and then dust yourself off and try again. There is a dangerous territory that unravels, in the land of social media especially, where toxic positivity can be rife. When I told people about a recent struggle, I was met with a lot of lovely messages, but some made me feel worse and I could not figure out why. Then I realised, those statements like the ones above, wouldn’t have been harmful to me at the time if they were met with a listening ear and validation of the situation I was in or had offered some advice but because as stand-alone statements they are meaningless and dismissive.

By avoiding difficult emotions, you miss out on valuable information that will help you identify a problem or fear. For example, when you are scared, your emotions are telling you, “Be aware of those around you or this environment.” Emotions enable us to figure out what is going on in the given moment, but they don’t tell you exactly what to do or how to react which is why it is important to talk to other’s and share those emotions. If you are scared of auditions, it could be because you know you haven’t done as much preparation as you’d like so those emotions inform us of what we can do to make our situation better for next time. That is why it is important to know that being positive does NOT mean you do not feel sad, angry, disappointed, scared, or betrayed et al. It just means, after feeling these emotions, you will be better equipped to analyse why you feel that way, what causes those reactions and how to solve them or the situation you are in.

How do we spot and stop toxic positivity? What does toxic positivity even look like? Here is a chart below of some examples:

Toxic positivityPositive / accepting statements
Don’t worry, stay positive!I can see that you are really stressed, is there anything I can do to help?
Failure is not an option – just give it your all!Failure is a part of growth and success. Without failure we don’t learn what works and what doesn’t.
Everything will be fine and work out in the end.This is really hard right now, I am thinking of you and here when you need someone to talk to but I know you will get through this and I will be here to support you.
Good vibes only here…Suffering and hardship is a part of life, you are not alone.
Look for the silver liningI think, once a solution has been found, you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. How can I help?
Everything happens for a reason / tomorrow is a new daySometimes, we can draw the short straw in life – let’s see if we can find a way to make tomorrow a better day for you.
It could be worseToday sucks. I am here for you and willing to listen. Let’s also talk about all the good in your life right now or things you are in control of.

MOVING FORWARD

To achieve greatness in life we must have a certain level of self-belief (which I talk about in my blog posts below). Success can only be defined by what YOUR perception of it is and everyone’s goal post is different. For me, positivity is my route to success. Whenever I feel sad, lost or like I’m never going to ‘make it’, I remind myself of all the great actors or writers, directors et al that made it after many setbacks or later on in life as well as everything I have achieved thus far. So, to move forward and maintain an optimistic outlook on life and your acting career I want to remind you of the steps you can take to stay positive:

  1. Write down your goals
  2. Write down everything you have achieved so far; no matter how big or small it all adds up!
  3. Keep a journal of emotions
  4. Talk to trusted friends, family, or a therapist.
  5. Do a vision board
  6. Remind yourself why you are an actor
  7. Find/write down a positive affirmation to look at when needed

I feel it is important for creatives to be equipped with how we can be positive as this is a career that has no definitive timeline. Everyone moves at different paces based on the opportunities they manage to receive. Equally being aware that our industry is always encouraging positivity, which is great but can also lead onto some taking it further into toxic positivity territory, it is important to know that it is safe to feel. As an actor you will need to feel a lot so be open to feelings and why they are there. It will only serve your talent more. Venting and releasing is a much better and healthier solution that bottling things up. I believe positive people can express their feelings – that is how they find the strength to keep moving forward with a smile on their face. No matter what happens in life, let yourself feel, talk, or write about it, then find the solution and get back up and go again. To conclude, start a positive mindset by making the decision that the world has as much good as it does bad and release any resistance to this daily. Optimism is a learnable skill and you can acquire it. Also, have a balanced life, work you enjoy, hobbies, exercise, eating as well as you can and human interaction/connection. You are worthy of everything good this world has to offer, so when you find that little negative voice getting you down telling you you’re not good enough for that role or you can’t act,  take some of the steps above to help navigate yourself back to positive thinking and smash each and every audition like it’s the job! You have got this.

Your First Industry Contact,

Kelly Juvilee

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