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Inspiration for Actors in the Trenches

Feed Your Soul to Feed Your Craft

by Connie de Veer | April 23, 2018

Acting is an extreme sport. It makes demands on us like few other professions. Our bodies, minds, and souls make up our instrument; and we need to keep that instrument in tip top shape. At the very least, we want to maintain our instrument and our craft, not lose precious ground with habits that eat our time and suck our souls.

From time to time we’re all tempted to give in to time wasters, over-indulgence, or soul-sucking activities of one form or another. For example, let’s say we have an audition or an interview tomorrow. We know full well that we should stay home tonight, review our material, and go to bed at a sensible hour. That’s the only way to ensure a good day tomorrow, right? But our friends are going out tonight and we want to join them. Don’t we deserve to have fun?

Then that other voice in our head speaks up. “Nope, sorry. Either I treat myself in the moment and pay for it tomorrow by feeling sluggish and not doing my best; or I stay home, bored and lonely.” Either/or. Period. The end.

Or is it? What if it can be both/and? What if you can make choices that support your goals, but don’t feel like a sacrifice? You can. Start by identifying activities that feed and support you in some way, and those that drain you.

True Pleasures versus “Faux” Pleasures      

There’s a difference between true, authentic pleasures and what I call “faux pleasures.” Faux pleasures don’t feel as good in the moment as we hope they will; and they sure don’t feel good after we’ve over-indulged. Obsessively watching funny cat videos on YouTube instead of learning lines might feel good for a few minutes, and then not so much. The guilt, the anxiety, the resentment, the stuck-ness kick in and it’s hard to break that cycle. (Not that I would know, of course.) Faux pleasures are simply not worth the cost.

True pleasures feel good in the moment AND in the future. For example, savoring one chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven satisfies the pleasure-seeking part of my brain in the moment, without derailing my future goal of losing or maintaining a healthy weight.

No one expects you to live like a Spartan or a Puritan. That’s no fun, is not sustainable, and will suck your soul as dry as playing video games all day. You’ll do and be your best when you’re happy and making mindful choices.

Try this

  1. Make a list of leisure, recreational, or restorative activities that feel good in the moment, AND also feed your soul (which of course, feeds your craft).
  2. Make a list of your faux pleasures. If you don’t want to give them up entirely, how will you set healthy boundaries around this indulgence? For example, set a reasonable time limit for the activity.
  3. What choices did you make in the past that contributed to where you are today? If you could go back in time and make a different choice, what would you choose?

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