Why Artists Cannot Be Afraid to Express Emotions

I’m the king of over-sharing.

I didn’t even know what that word meant until a couple months ago, because I realized that ever since I was a kid, I’d express things that most people would think were “private.” But it just felt normal for me to express my truth, and I think if you watch children, they’re naturally inclined to express freely in this way in the moment.

As I got older, I became self-conscious about that part of me that was made fun of for expressing feeling. I began to self-edit and self-criticize this natural part of me that seemed to be so different from what other people said was “normal.”

So I assimilated. Joined the crowd, tried to fit in.

And in doing so, I began to equate that simply feeling (and sharing feeling) is inherently risky and punishable.

And in a way it is. I was thinking yesterday about the brave souls who lived under Communist rule in the Soviet Union (and other countries) during the Cold War. What would I have done had I lived during that time as an artist? It was very risky for artists to express themselves freely, which ironically, is the trademark of all great art. I started thinking about the challenges of wanting to write poetry or tell stories or act in plays that expressed a political point of view, or a personal narrative that wasn’t acceptable by the mandates of the organized state or religion. How brutal it must have been for those artists.

Thankfully, we’re free to express. So let it not be a burden of pain and anxiety. Expressing feeling—even when it’s scary and unfamiliar—is inherently joyful because it’s the natural state of our being.

And thankfully, we’re also given second chances in life, all the time.

So don’t waste opportunities to express how you feel. Do it, and not in ways that feel safe to you. Although feeling vulnerable is safe, when you’re expressing something that is personal to you, the fear of rejection or disapproval or being negated might make you feel unsafe.

This is because rejections are hard-wired in us, as a species originating from tribal culture, that surviving was all about being part of the pack.

No one wants to be cast out. No one wants to be shunned. No one wants to be alone.

But I’ve discovered that sharing our stories (and the feelings that come with them), not only liberate us from the judgments we often have about ourselves, but also heal us by the simple act of sharing. They’re not acts of singularity. They’re acts of the collective, because we all come from the same tribe. We collectively need to express in order to heal and learn and grow.

So do it. Don’t wait for the perfect way to say something or the right occasion, or give yourself a default or an out clause if you don’t like how—or with whom—it’s being expressed.

The perfection lies in the moment, because you’re actually feeling. And the tragedy of life is to let those moments go without fully sharing. Give it away, and what you’ll discover is that you’re not over-sharing at all.You’re simply part of the tribe.

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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 honored by Backstage three years in a row and named the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles (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. It releases on iTunes and DVD in March of 2014. 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 CW KTLA. He has been a guest speaker at the GATE 2013 Story Conference, founded by Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle, and David Lynch's Masters in Film Program (Maharishi University of Management).

He is also the author of the best-selling creativity 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.

Meindl's 2nd book, Alphabet Soup For Grown-Ups, is available now on Amazon.com.

Anthony Meindl
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer-director-producer, creativity expert, inspirational speaker, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney, and Vancouver.
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