So we all know that actors hang with actors, and we all talk. When everyone you know seems to be booking roles and you’re feeling super high pressured to get in on something, an actor is prone to engage in what’s called self-sabotage. It turns you into your own worst enemy, especially when you’ve had a few consecutive busts.
The good-natured friend you are has you over there praising your friends for landing their pilots and other roles, inside, you’re really being pretty mean to yourself. And you’re not alone, trust that. You are so, very much, not alone.
So self-sabotage is when we engage in negative self-talk. It’s based on fear, as obvious as that may or may not be at the moment.
What happens is you start saying things to yourself like, “I’m not as good as so-and-so, that’s why I’m not booking anything,” and then it snowballs into thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome, and more. It could even be enough to make you want to give up on your dream of being an actor. It’s your inner critic that’s relentlessly trying to creep in and damage your self-esteem. If you don’t put a stop to it, you’re going to subconsciously find ways to hinder your progress entirely (like choosing something other than being prepared and rested for an audition, for example), and maybe even give up, and you deserve better than that!
The next time you feel like you’re going to go down that spiral, try the following. Here are 3 strategies actors need to end self sabotage.
How To End Actor’s Self-Sabotage
1. Remember that this is a journey, and the joy is in the journey. Actors tend to evaluate and over-evaluate to the point of talking themselves right out of their confidence. Stop comparing your journey to others’ journeys and remember that just because you’re not where you think you should be, doesn’t mean you’re not in the right place right now. We learn and grow based on our experiences, so just because you’re only booking plays or commercials right now could mean that you have more to learn and grow as an actor.
So what if you didn’t book a pilot this year? Neither did hundreds of thousands of others who tried. As long as there are shows and movies being made, you’ll always have a chance to try. Take some time to read up on the stories of other famous actors like Jim Carrey or Hilary Swank, or writers like J.K. Rowling. The journey is what makes the most exciting story once your time comes!
2. Recognize and value your accomplishments. Human beings are way too quick to jump onto their “next big thing” and don’t really focus on soaking in their successes. It’s pretty tragic if you think about it. There’s absolutely no valid reason to finish one thing and immediately jump into another, and doing so really devalues your entire life’s work when you think about it. If you can’t stop and appreciate your accomplishments and contributions to the world, why the heck would anyone else? Take some time to think about absolutely everything you’ve accomplished that’s brought you to today. Focus on the highs and the lows, and remember that the lows always have something to teach us, even if it’s only about resilience. Remember who you are, where you came from, and above all, remember your why.
3. Change your inner monologue. You’ve been rehearsing other people’s words all your life, but have you ever considered that you need to re-write your own script? Whenever you find yourself thinking things like, “I didn’t get the part because I’m too fat/skinny/hairy/terrible/insert-whatever-insult-to-yourself-here,” you need to immediately stop yourself. Remember that casting agents almost always have something super specific in mind when they’re holding auditions. It speaks nothing of you as a human being when you don’t get the gig. Go back and remember those accomplishments, and remember the fact that those negative thoughts that you keep telling yourself can become quite powerful roadblocks to achieving your goals!
Self-talk leads us through our days, weeks, months, and years. Talking down to yourself and allowing yourself to dwell in negative thought patterns will do only one thing: Cause you to invent reasons and scenarios that will ensure that you will not succeed.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to look back on times where you’ve loaded yourself up with self-sabotage, and you now know how to recognize it in the future. The moment you stop allowing negativity to live in your brain is the moment you’ll feel lighter, more confident, and then… you’ll get what it is you so desperately wanted in the first place! Empower yourself and don’t let that little devil on your shoulder convince you that you’re anything but amazing.