The #1 Block to Building Confidence
Posted May 4, 2017, 10 a.m.
This article originally appeared on Backstage Magazine
You already know that confidence is crucial to your success as an actor. Articles and webinars about how to build your confidence are everywhere, almost to the point where they make you do an internal eye-roll: “Oh, there’s that topic again.”
Actors tell me all the time when we first start working together, that they need to build their confidence but they don’t know how.
This article isn’t about how to build your confidence. It’s about overcoming the biggest block to doing just that—which has to happen before you’ll (subconsciously) let yourself build confidence.
The block? Internal confusion about what confidence is and what it isn’t.
The most common point of confusion here is the unconscious belief that confidence equals arrogance. If you harbor that belief (on any level), you’ll feel blocked because, deep down, most actors don’t want to be arrogant. It goes against what the craft of acting is all about: exploring the human condition. And that requires immersing yourself in it, not putting yourself on a pedestal above everybody else.
As long as part of you believes that you have to be confident in an arrogant way to succeed, you’re likely to put a cap on the amount of success you’ll allow yourself to experience.
To resolve the block, you have to gain a new understanding of the kind of confidence that’s actually required. It’s the kind that most actors you admire and respect have—one that’s characterized by a healthy dose of humility.
The next time you see an interview with an actor like Meryl Streep, Chris Pratt, or Viola Davis, watch what happens when they receive a compliment. You can almost see the conscious awareness in their eyes of the importance of not letting it go to their head.
If they’re told something like, “You’re doing amazing work,” they’ll say “Thank you.” But then they’re quick to point out the talents and contributions of everyone else who’s involved. That’s another hallmark of someone who’s in a place of true confidence: They’re generous in their praise of others.
True confidence is:
- Accepting and respecting all of yourself—your talents, strengths, weaknesses, and flaws—so you can bring every part of yourself to your work.
- Feeling good about who you are and what you have to offer so you can trust that you’re needed in this industry.
- Trusting your instincts so you can make great choices.
- Feeling secure in yourself and generous in your praise of others.
- Being grounded, centered, and there for yourself—no matter what—so you can ride out the ebbs and flows of outside opinion.
- Feeling connected to your purpose—striving to be of service and leave your audience with something they didn’t have before
- Appreciating all the work you’ve already done.
- Appreciating the opportunities that come your way instead of feeling entitled.
- Appreciating and respecting the artists around you in a way that allows for true collaboration instead of competition.
- Acknowledging that you have something unique to offer, that no one else has, and that the same is true for other actors.
- Acknowledging that there are roles out there that you’re better suited for than anyone else, and that the same is true for other actors.
- Relating to the industry and roles from a place of abundance instead of lack.Maintaining an attitude where you look forward to what’s next—because you believe that of course your career is going to keep getting better and better.
Understanding what you’re working toward is the first step toward building true confidence. The next step is embodying it. That part takes a little more work, especially if you were raised in ways that make it difficult to think, feel, and behave in ways that align with the list above.
No matter how you’ve been taught or treated, though, you can align with true confidence and build it in ways that ensure your success. That’s one of the primary things I help clients do every day in my private and online coaching practice, The Evolving Artist. In next month’s article, I’ll share some of the ways in which I help people build that true confidence, that you can begin practicing yourself.