Whether you are preparing an audition, or on your way to an interview with an agent and you suddenly have an attack of fear or doubt, how do you get over it? What do you do?
First, recognize what fear is and where it comes from. Second, fight it the moment it raises its ugly head.
A client recently called me in tears. She was delighted with the idea of relaunching her career and coming back into the acting business after a hiatus to raise a family. Still a beautiful, vibrant, and talented woman, she was in a panic. Overwhelmed with the idea of getting new headshots, meeting new agents, auditioning when she hadn't been active in a while threw her into agony.
"Where does this morbid fear come from?" she asked. It comes from anticipation of failure and a negative outcome. It comes from the "What Ifs" – "What if they don't like me?" "What if the pictures turn out bad?" "What if I'm too old?" "Or not attractive enough?" "What if I spend all this money and I can't get an agent?"
Fear comes from living in a thought realm, an imagined future, that isn't real. It's only a thought, a negative thought, and it can be a habit if you’ve created negative thought patterns. You need to change the habit. Sometimes fear comes from the past when things didn't work out and the thought pattern – "This awful thing is going to happen again" – sets in. It's negative energy stored in your memory. It's also the old part of the brain we all have as humans. It's called the "Croc," "Mammalian," or "Lizard Brain" (the amygdala), the one that is always on edge waiting for a future event for you to be attacked or devoured by a Dinosaur.
Wait! There aren't any dinosaurs or monsters out there! It doesn't matter. The Lizard Brain doesn't know we’ve left the caves and there aren't any stalking animals, fires, floods, or volcanoes. The Lizard brain was dominant in our systems to protect us eons ago. Seth Godin writes in "Quieting the Lizard Brain," “It hates change, achievement and risk.”
But those are the very qualities you need as an actor and a creative entrepreneur to be successful!
The good news? The more modern, intelligent, creative brain developed – the one responsible for science, math, writing, the arts, happiness, JOY! So all you have to do is tap into the more modern brain, and that is sometimes difficult because the Lizard Brain has dominance most of the time. Yes! Most human beings are walking around in a state of fear, doubt, and depression. It takes effort to change that condition. How to fight back? Think of something or someone you love – something that would make you happy!
For my client I advised her to think of the flip side of the previous "What Ifs." For example: "What if the photos come out strikingly beautiful?" "What if the interview goes well and the agent loves me?" "What if I'm really good at that audition?" "What if it all works and I book that guest-starring role?" "What if the investment in my career pays back times a thousand?"
Now wouldn't that make you happy? Right. That's using your modern, creative brain overriding the other circuit. And in the process of thinking about what you love, what will make you happy, you become a warrior who wins the battle! You trick the lizard into thinking everything is safe. If you do that daily, for 21 days, you create the habit of conquering the fear. YOU control your thoughts and your reality. So you control your success!
Just by thinking a thought about what you love, you stay in the creative brain.
Then, that brain releases endorphins and all kinds of happy chemicals so you feel better, function better, and accomplish everything easily and successfully! See? It's fun to outwit monsters!
Next time you're afraid to audition, submit yourself for a role, return an agent's call, commit to that class, or buy those gorgeous red shoes, or take any step to go forward in your career, call it what it is, Lizard Brain! And tell it to go away!
Yes, whistling a happy tune or just daydreaming about playing your dream roles, working with your ideal agent, or on the set with terrific A-List actors you admire, all those thoughts become your reality. Just do it – it works!
As the founder and executive director of The Actors' Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.