Every one of us knows what it’s like to be attached to outcomes. It’s human. We decide we’ll suffer if things don’t turn out the way we want them to, and we sabotage our success as a result. For an actor, it’s especially important to manage this human trait because audition after audition, you’re being asked to step in and deliver the goods, while remaining an artist.
When you’ve got an audition and you’re attached to an outcome of any kind - saying your lines a certain way, impressing the room, booking the role - you’re going to get into a state that’s more likely to sabotage the outcome than make it happen.
Take an example of the actor who decides what a performance - moment by moment - is meant to look like. Every gesture, inflection, and facial movement is planned out. The outcome of the performance is the focus. Then there’s another actor who gets really clear about the life of their character - who they are, the desires they have, the struggles, the thoughts, the relationships they have, the environment they’re in - and then they let it all go, trusting in the preparation that’s been done. They become fully present in the moment, connecting with what’s right there. Which actor out of those two do you think is more likely to give a compelling reading, impress the room, or book the role? It’s an irony of the business that the actor least focused on those outcomes ends up more likely to get them!
The reason attachment sabotages us is because it’s based in a lack of trust. When you’re thinking, "I have to get this reading just right" or "I hope they like me" or "It will kill me if I don’t book this role," you’re white knuckling your way through the experience. It’s fear. And aside from the energetic, emotional, physiological, and spiritual effect that this has on you, the neurology of fear makes your higher brain functioning shut down and the more primitive fight/flight/freeze instincts kick in. You’ll find yourself less likely to be creative, make good choices, and connect with others because of that. You’re even going to be less able to connect with your own feelings and needs, which for an actor is a sure way to sabotage your ability to show up as your best self. That’s when those yucky, disconnected auditions happen. That’s also when the outcome is probably not going to be the one you’d hoped for! After all, people don’t tend to hire fear.
So, what can you do about it? If you think about the times you were the most powerful as an actor—fully living the life of your character and being part of something fluid and magical—you probably weren’t attaching yourself to an outcome, but instead were connecting with someone and something in that moment.
Connection is the source of our ability to be creative, and it requires connecting with the present moment.
Making a conscious choice in your daily life to detach from outcomes and get present will eventually seep into how you respond to that big audition, or that important agent or producer meeting. With practice you learn to have a vision of what you’d like to accomplish. Prepare yourself both internally and externally for what’s ahead, take the necessary actions, and then let it all go. At some point you have to trust, make peace with the unknown, and let those magical moments be what manifests the outcomes you dream about.
Justina Vail 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."
Justina Vail is currently offering her popular weekly simulcast Actors Life Lessons for $1 for the first month. For more info about Actors Life Coaching teleseminars, workshops, and private coaching packages visit www.actorslifecoaching.com.