How do you cope with failure as an actor?

The Confident Actor

I have been teaching the Alexander Technique to actors for many years and always notice how most of them struggle with fear of failure.

“How do I build confidence in myself as an actor?”

This is one of the most basic questions that I get from students in my classes.

Often in my conversations, even when student actors know their lines, and they have time to develop their character and to rehearse, they assume that they have everything under control and have every reason to feel confident in themselves.

But then, things didn’t work out quite the way they imagined.

How about you? Let’s say you did your homework. You really put effort into your process and spent a lot of time. You took very passionate care for this character that you invited into your life. But then it didn’t work in the way you expected. Something just didn’t’ click very well.

It could feel rather upsetting  and/or frustrating. You’re really unhappy with a bad result, and start to ask what happened. Right away you think that, In fact, something is still missing in the process.

It is normal for you to fix your thinking always on the goal, But typically, you don’t have patience with bad results. It is easy to accept the winning situation, because you expect (or depend upon) to be rewarded for that.

As soon as you are rewarded, all your needs are fulfilled: pleasure, satisfaction, connection and ultimately, love.

On the other hand, the failure represents the opposite: pain, punishment, absence of connection, absence of understanding, and absence of love.

I am not being esoteric when I talk about love. Your needs vary and change all the time. You have basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.

But you also need connection.

You need to be heard. You need to be understood. Ultimately, you need love.

Love is everywhere. It is like air. If you drink the water from a glass, air just fill the space. Love is the stillness that takes place after you face your limitations and the pain associated with it.

Confidence is built upon accepting your limitations and seeing your mistakes as a very important means of learning about yourself. It is this shifting in consciousness where you, the actor, defines the difference between learning about yourself and judging yourself.

Acceptance is the first step. Compassion for yourself, as well as for the people around you.

Here are four basic guidelines to use as a starting point:

1. Learn to develop strategies to better cope with emotional pain.

2. Learn to understand how your conscious/unconscious habits impact your priorities.

3. Learn to keep your attention on the process instead of on the end goal.

4. Learn to accept failure as a learning process, instead of something to be used against yourself.

In my upcoming blog posts, I will elaborate (in specific detail) on the four basic guidelines listed above. I will be offering helpful tips, ideas and strategies that you can use to immediately change how you face the possibility of failure and become a more confident actor.

Ultimately, I hope to engage in a conversation with you about your journey as an actor.

What are your challenges, your dreams, your strategies?

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2 Responses to How do you cope with failure as an actor?

  1. Joseph D'Agosta says:

    I’ve never taken Alexander Technique – your words – Intriguing!

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