I’ve written before about the importance of undoing the sh*t you were taught about hiding from your emotions. But this came up in class a while ago—the same issue from a slightly different angle. This time, the challenge wasn’t about the internal work of accessing emotion, but about the external side: is it okay to express those emotions? When is the time to stop hiding from your emotions?
I know firsthand how easy it is to worry about burdening others with my stuff, but I’m also learning that my hardest challenges usually turn out to be my biggest areas of growth and ultimately, big gifts… Your “stuff”is what makes you different from every other actor, and what enriches your work and the stories you tell. Being honest about where you are is vulnerable, but it’s everything. Hiding from your emotions can feel safe, but vulnerability is your acting superpower. And it takes focus and practice.
I have seen so many actors struggle with allowing their honest, naked selves to show up. I used to be one of those actors. When your real life emotions come up, don’t run. (Easier said than done, I know!) Allow them, feel them. Don’t hang onto the story, but let it be felt as a pure physical experience.
Check out this conversation we had in class about finding a perspective shift on hiding from your emotions, especially tough ones.
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Sarah: This just came up. There’s an actor that I’ve been working with who has been through a lot of hard stuff in life. And he realized at some point that he had to express that stuff in order for him to be the best artist that he could be. He was sitting on a lot of pain and he was worried about showing that, about talking about it, because it felt like a burden to other people. Like I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to make other people sad, I don’t want to bore anyone.
And the truth is that our hardest stuff as humans, our hardest stuff that we’ve been through, is our gift. That’s the stuff that’s gonna make us the best artist. So when we lean into that, and we allow it to be there, rather than try to pretend like everything is fine so that we can go live in a perfect Instagram feed – it’s not real!
So when stuff comes up for you, not just now, but in general, let yourself feel what you feel, and lean into it, rather than try to keep it all together and perfectly buttoned up. Journal that stuff out, when stuff comes up. How you’re feeling, why you might be feeling it. Sometimes it helps to just take a bunch of blank papers and write out all this stuff that comes up and do a big emotional dump onto the pages, and then rip it up. Burn it. Say goodbye.
But purge it, get it out, don’t let it stay in. Because if you want to be an artist and express yourself, which I know you do, that stuff needs to get out. That’s the safest, healthiest thing that you could do. Whatever it is.