Building up your arsenal of good

This week has been all about recognizing the thought process of self-doubt and of dispelling self-doubt. I was talking with a friend about feeling insecure about acting, improv and how our work looks to other people and to our teachers. I found she had the same thought pattern I did – notice something that makes you think you stink, feel like you stink for a moment, then remember all the people who told you you don’t stink, and feel somewhat or a whole lot better.

The thing that makes us think we stink may be seeing a facial expression on someone that can be construed as disapproval, or in acting not getting a part we want or not making the best choice when we are on stage or rehearsing.  Real or imagined the feeling may quickly balloon out and erase all the good we’ve ever done, and create in our minds a label of all our work as inferior, at least for a moment.  At this point my knee jerk response and my friend’s is to comb through our memories for validation that we don’t stink.  Remembering all the good things people have said to you about your work can fill up that wondering place in you with comfort. Remembering all the positive reinforcement, applause, laughs and praise you’ve gotten can rebuild a mountain of self-worth.

Even more than that, a whole lot of praise and appreciation from someone you respect can build up such a big feeling of confidence, that it can spill out into other areas of your life.   For example, I got so much support that I was doing good improv from my current improv instructor, who is someone I really respect, that I went about my days this week feeling like I had the ability to succeed at whatever I was doing.  And, sure enough, I did.  Which got me more praise, which bolstered my confidence even more.

Starting out any new venture is a challenge.  Creativity is always a challenge, because there really is no right and wrong, just your ideas and a great variety of people’s responses to them.  Thinking about all this made me even more strongly want to find the good and genius in every one of my students and build up their mountains of good to hold onto when the world is trying to shut them down.  I hope there is at least one strong voice insisting, “you are so talented!” in the back of every one of our minds.  Are you that voice for someone?  Seeing the good in someone feels good too.   It’s win win.  And keep a file of all the affirmation and accolades you can think of to refer to when you may need them.  It’s good to have an arsenal of good.

2 responses to “Building up your arsenal of good

  1. What a great blog post, and what you say is so true. I am actually still a blogger thanks to the encouragement of Elizabeth Harper, an American bloggger now living in Britain who I’ve never met in person. Elizabeth did a ‘word of the year’ exercise, taking one word and applying it to her life for that year where ever she could. I was one of the many recipients of her diligent application of ‘encouragement’. Some of her blog readers that like her thoughtful writing and lovely photography read my blog too. Blogging has taken me in a number of directions including landing at the screen writing course at The FilmSchool in Seattle. I’d never acted before and I wasn’t particularly good, but it really caught my imagination.

    I am sure your students will benefit hugely from your insight on this Suzannah – especially as just a little encouragement and understanding of how to use it to maximum benefit can go such a long, long way.

  2. Susannah Raulino

    Thank you so much for the response! It’s always good to get confirmation. I will have to check out Elizabeth’s blog. And I thought I had subscribed to yours but I will have to be sure I did, your photography is quite wonderful. Always good to hear from you!

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