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.