Negative thinking is a habit of the mind. In fact, thinking negatively is easy to do. Take a moment and count the amount of times you were at an audition or performance and received negative feedback. You can probably count the negatives on one or both of your hands. Now, take a moment and try to remember all the positive feedback you’ve gotten. You can’t think of as many, can you?
For some reason, our brains love to remember all the time the negative feedback validates our negative thoughts. It’s just more fun and dramatic then all those times that people have told us how great we are.
Usually these thoughts love to show up when we are about to go after something we really want. In the waiting room of an audition, right before the curtain rises—you start to hear those thoughts coming in like a wildfire holding you back.
Quite often, our response is to suppress these positive energy suckers. “Go away, I am too great! Leave me alone!” However, pushing away these thoughts only makes them stronger. Trying to ignore our negative thoughts or push them away only makes them backfire.
The best response you can have is to embrace them. Listen to the thoughts. What are they saying to you? These thoughts are trying to protect you because you are going into dangerous territory. This response comes from our primitive days when saber-toothed tigers could jump out and eat us. We needed to decide to run from these sort of scary circumstances. However, our problems today aren’t quite as barbaric, yet our responses are the same. The following are some ways to take your negativity and turn it into good.
1. Start with gratitude. Scientists have done studies that show that gratitude and fear cannot exist at the same time. My favorite acronym for F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. When you start to focus on gratitude, you start to focus on what is real an in front of you. I can often be found in an audition waiting room making a list of things I’m grateful for. Right now, I’m grateful to be writing this article in my Broadway dressing room, drinking delicious coffee, with the delicious feeling of my Burt’s Bees lip balm. What are you grateful for?
2. Use mantras. Listen to those negative thoughts, embrace them. What are they saying to you? The most common negative thought I hear is, “You’ll embarrass yourself, and people won’t like you.” How scary is that? If you really boil that negative thought down, it’s telling me, “No one will like you and you will be alone.” So take that negative thought, listen to it, and thank it for trying to protect you from being alone in the world. Then reverse it into a mantra, “I’m loved, loving, and lovable.” “I am uniquely valuable to everyone.” Then write that mantra over and over again until you start to believe it.
3. Meditation. Too often our negativity consumes us during the stresses of our day. Let’s face it, commuting through New York City to a cattle call can release a lot of negative energy, and we pick up the energy around us. Find a way of centering as a calm in the storm. The Deepak and Oprah 21 Day Meditation Experience is a great, free, beginner way to start meditating. Also, look at Ziva Meditation, and Center of the Cyclone for deeper meditation trainings.
So, moving forward let’s learn to embrace the negativity in our lives and in our thoughts. Everyone is doing the best they can in this moment. Take a moment to do the best you can. Remind yourself that no matter what, there isn’t a saber-toothed tiger out to get you.
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