Almost every performer I’ve known has heard the question "When are you going to get a real job?” coming from family and close friends. Disapproval and criticism can be a real challenge to deal with, especially from the people you most hope will support your journey as an actor. And your reactions, if they’re defensive, hurt, or angry, can disempower you further. So, what might be some different, and perhaps more empowering ways to deal with disapproval and criticism from the people closest to you? Here are three to consider.
1. Recognize what’s behind it. Your friends and family are probably most concerned about your well-being and unless they are also in the acting business, face an unknowable threat. After all, the industry you’re in has a reputation (and rightly so) of being massively competitive, unstable, and sometimes even personally harmful—the media constantly focusing on the next actor to enter rehab, go through an ugly divorce, or lose control somehow. To non-industry folks the business can seem treacherous. So, get in touch with the fact that they may be scared for you and don’t know how to express it. If you frame it that way, whether it’s true or not, you can have compassion which will put you in a far more powerful state to respond.
2. Don’t react. Respond. When you react to something you’re coming from a place of fear and when your fear meets theirs, things won’t work out well. Responding, on the other hand, comes from a certain detachment, calm, and trust. Just believe in yourself and stop trying to prove or convince them of anything. Even if it means kindly changing the subject, don’t enter a debate. You already know there’s little point to that. Step into your higher self and engage them from there.
3. Don’t tell them. Show them. The very best response to disapproval or criticism is to be happy. Truly, actions speak louder than words, and your people will be far more inspired when they see how well you’re doing. So, get clear about what makes you happy and dedicate yourself to it. The people who love you will become more relaxed about your journey and, not only will they begin to see that you’ve taken the right path, they may also improve their own lives through your example.
Your job is to have a fulfilling, creative, and happy life, not to convince anyone that your path is the right one. If you can detach from the fear that gets expressed and connect to the love that might be behind it, everyone wins. Focus on purpose, passion, and joy, and simply share it!
Justina Vail, PCC CHt, is a life coach, master NLP practitioner, hypnotherapist, speaker, award-winning author, and award-winning actor. She is owner of Actors Life Coaching and author of the award-winning new book “How to be a Happy Actor in a Challenging Business: A Guide to Thriving Through it All."
Vail coaches actors all over the world via Skype and in person. For info about private coaching packages as well as Actors Life Coaching seminars and workshops visit www.actorslifecoaching.com.