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Backstage Experts

Why You Need To Let Go of Control As An Actor

Why You Need To Let Go of Control As An Actor

Recently I was in New York teaching, and I was walking around the city and being confronted with humanity all around me in the form of long lines, tourists, noise, public transportation, and weather. Just the energy of Manhattan forced me to use my experiences as daily meditations of letting go of control. It's not easy. Especially when I wanted to push some meandering, gawking tourist out of my way because I had to be somewhere, and they were obviously lost. Move it!

One of the things that became most obvious to me is that holding onto things from a place of expectation—i.e. agendas, ideas, negative reactions—and the attempt to control our experience to fulfill those expectations is not only futile but it’s also stress-inducing and energy-sucking.

Why is relinquishing control so hard for us? It's partly because we live in a controlling culture. Welcome to the state of humanity. We want things how we want them, when we want them, where we want them, and just how much we want them. And when things run counter to our desired outcome, it’s like throwing a wrench in a carburetor. There’s going to be lots of mental noise and ultimately, a system shut-down.

Not having a semblance of control triggers our feelings of being vulnerable and exposed. We don’t want to feel feelings. Period. But we especially don't want to feel those that make us feel raw and open. So by staying in control of things, we can keep actual uncomfortable feelings at bay.

But paradoxically, control creates a significant amount of pain and suffering because nothing is inherently controllable in our existence. So when we clamp down on life, our controlling nature just creates more stress or constriction or resistance.

What if you just tried allowance this week? All it takes is a breath—an acknowledgment that you are safe. That everything’s going to work out. That you don’t have to be so reactive or fearful. It’s a breath away. The breath slows us down. It helps us to step outside of the situation we’re trying to manhandle and just let it be what it wants to be instead.

Try it.

The thing you’re pushing against sticks to you. The more we create resistance to something, the more it magnifies, thereby becoming more intense and impenetrable. And the more we then try to control, the more unmanageable it becomes.

Just drop it. It will be hard at first, but the more practice you have, the easier it will become. It’s sort of like that old adage—when you’re angry with someone and don’t forgive, it’s like holding a burning coal in your hand with the intention of throwing it at the person you’re mad at. All you end up hurting is yourself. Ouch.

Simply try dropping it instead.

Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and Artistic Director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Vancouver. It was voted the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles by Backstage in 2011 and 2012 (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read).

Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and the CW KTLA. He is also the author of the new best-selling book, “At Left Brain Turn Right,” which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. 'Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.


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