We don’t always realize it, but from a very young age, we’re often taught that our emotions are too much. Whether it’s a parent telling you not to cry, a teacher telling you to calm down, a friend who says you make too big a deal out of things, or even just being told to “cheer up”, the message is everywhere.
As actors, some of the most important you are tasked with is to undo this belief that may be operating unconsciously inside. I’m too much. It’s unsafe to be vulnerable. Getting angry is bad. I’m mean if I’m strong….
We work on undoing this stuff in class and in our private sessions every day because it is vital to your work. I have a ton of exercises I love, but I’d love to share one you can try and report back:
Think of a time you were given the message that your emotions were somehow inappropriate. Freewrite for as long as you want, maybe 10 or 15 minutes and try to get it all out on paper. You can also do this as a direct “F-you letter” to a person who shamed you, though you never have to shadow them. And then? Burn it. Or shred it. Just get rid of it. It’s a super cathartic, freeing way to release yourself and allow yourself to feel your emotions to the fullest. Give it a try and email me to let me know how it goes!
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Sarah: But it is amazing, I just wanna say very briefly, it is amazing the messages that we get from the world starting from a very very early age. You know, literally my three year old the other day said to me…what did she say? My husband and I both went, “What!?” She said, “I’m bad sometimes. I’m bad when I cry.” She said, “I’m bad, I’m bad.” And we said, “Why are you bad? What does that mean?” Like we’ve never even talked about people as being bad, you know, or we try not to, even people that we feel like are bad. And she said, “If I cry…?”
And so we just had to take this pause of, how do you even [have an idea of that as a concept], and where does that come from, and how do I talk through this? Because we’ve always tried to, especially with her, and we’re getting better and better, but the second time around where something will happen and she’s crying and it starts to feel like, oh my god, I want that crying to stop. I’d do anything for that crying to stop, but to try not to do that, and say, why don’t you go cry on the couch for a while? And she’ll be like, okayyy.
But really from this early, early age we’re getting these messages from somewhere about our emotions, and probably also from, even parents who are trying really hard not to do that, where it just feels like too much when people are emoting all over the place.
Student: Yeah, it’s really hard to know what’s right and wrong, but no matter what, the world just sends us signals, whether it’s on tv or just like socially.
Sarah: Right, so no matter what, we’re gonna have to continue to look for opportunities and ways to allow ourselves to feel what we feel.