The 1 Reason Actors Need to Embrace Vulnerability

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Vulnerability leads to greater connection. Everyone probably knows that because we’ve all had vulnerable moments in life with friends or family or lovers that open us to new levels of honesty or communication or intimacy.

But what if we took the idea of vulnerability out into the world in a bigger way, to include the opportunity to connect with strangers and people we couldn’t imagine we have more in common with than not.

It’s happening all the time anyway. And it occurs through uncertainty.

Our lives are pitched into this existence that is ultimately…uncertain, which can be scary to most of us, and is partly why we like to control. But the possibilities for love, insight, creativity, and adventure really come only in the embracing of the unknown.

We can’t be controlling and powerful at the same time. Empowerment comes from loosening the hold we have on things and letting moments unfold not as we demand them, but as they actually are. That’s where the “aha” moments occur.

Shirley MacLaine calls it “the spontaneity of not knowing.”

In acting, it’s the absolute surrender to the moment and allowing yourself to be available in ways that go beyond your planning or exercising an agenda or playing an idea.

But it’s also a mindful way to open up to the possibilities of life itself. When life throws us into circumstances and experiences that are beyond our control (like, every day), it’s an opportunity to stay open to those moments and the gifts they want to give us. Embracing them presents experiences to us that are always better and more fulfilling than what we planned.

A lot of times in life we run away from (or hide behind our cell phones) the times when events occur that make us feel vulnerable in a public way. This is simply life’s way of trying to get us out of our own heads and participate more fully in possibility itself. But generally we stay in our left-brain dialogue that keeps us from actively participating in the world.

You spill your coffee in front of a group of people but keep your earbuds in so you can ignore making a connection. You fall down on the sidewalk but get up and pretend to text someone rather than having a moment with someone who saw you fall. You step into an elevator and immediately face front and look up, rather than noticing something about someone you share the space with, or smiling at a stranger.

These seemingly innocuous events can be amazing opportunities to connect beyond the way we normally allow. We often feel vulnerable or exposed or embarrassed with people and then shut down those feelings because we’ve been taught to ignore them.

But to be vulnerable and then share that vulnerability—which comes in many forms (awkwardness, shyness, joy, flirtation, upset, impatience)—with another, leads to authentic empowerment.

You discover you’re not alone. Other people feel the same way. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re doing just fine. It’s okay to make mistakes. And no one is judging you.

In short, you cut yourself slack for being human.

So allow yourself to be just that this week. Human. And share that with others. What you’ll discover is a greater feeling of connection even if it’s just a fleeting moment with someone you may never meet again.

And isn’t that the part of the wonder and joy of simply being alive?

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

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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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