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Backstage Experts

The #1 Reason Actors Sabotage Their Careers

The #1 Reason Actors Sabotage Their Careers

Whether you are auditioning for a role or you have booked the job, there are many ways to get in your own way, but the bottom line is, when you strip out all the layers of self-sabotage, at the core of it is… You don’t feel like you are enough.

Has that thought ever entered your mind? 

I don’t feel like I’m enough.

This is how that feeling of unworthiness gets reinforced over and over again. You are putting yourself out there. You don’t feel safe, you’re scared, and the stakes are high. The “not good enough” button gets pushed, and unfortunately you sabotage yourself.

The possibility of hearing no triggers failure, disappointment, and intensifies the feeling of being less than. Your self-esteem is constantly taking hits. “They didn’t like me. They didn’t want me. I am not _____ enough.” You fill in the blank. Because you care, you take it personally and your heart breaks a little every time. This only strengthens those conscious or unconscious thoughts that you don’t deserve it.

That, “you are not enough,” has nothing to do with other people making you feel that way. It’s a feeling that has to do with you, and it comes from within—from your backstory. 

The feeling of not being good enough is the tree. The branches are: “I am not talented, good-looking, slim, loving, deep enough, etc.”

 The branches keep growing when you give people too much power.

You give up your power in many ways:

  • You don’t prepare enough. 
  • You get too neurotic. 
  • You don’t trust yourself. 
  • You apologize too much. 
  • You’re not able to detach from the outcome of the audition.

The work that needs to be done begins with recognizing the wound that needs to be healed. You can be a proficient actor, armed with all the right tools, but until you acknowledge specifically what is stopping you, you will continue to get in your way time and time again.  

You must identify what that feeling of inadequacy is tied to. The experience that you don’t deserve can be deep. Every artist is insecure. It’s perfectly fine to feel all of the above; we are human after all. But when you are negatively affected by it, it reduces your ability to perform in your work. And if you don’t deal with it, it can cripple you in your career.

This is how you can begin to work on it and take back control:

  • Recognize exactly what you feel when you are feeling it. 
  • Don’t avoid it. Be strong and embrace it.
  • Face what’s going on head on. 
  • Resist the urge to run away.

By nature, actors are detectives, interested in investigating the truth. Every time you are brave enough to feel your feelings, you will transform the fear response into powerful choices and these choices will show up in your auditions, work, and life.

Because somewhere down the line you have told yourself you are not good enough, now is the time to de-program yourself. Whether through affirmations, prayers, writings, therapy—tell yourself the new truth. 

You must trust that you are enough. Say it. “I am enough.” Fake that you believe it. Even if you don’t right now, eventually you’ll start to. Remember, you get to create your career. You have the power to reprogram your feelings, so as to not get in the way of your dreams. You do deserve it!

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

Michelle Danner is an acting coach, owner of the Michelle Danner Acting Studio, and a Backstage Expert. Her next Golden Box master classes are Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 the Michelle Danner Acting Studio in Santa Monica, Calif. Dates are subject to change. For more information, check out Danner’s full bio

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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