"Wrong" is what I fear, and "wrong" is what I love to break through. That's why I love acting.
See, we women have been socialized to think that we are second-class citizens and to behave with great care lest we "upset" people around us. We have learned to strive for perfectionism.
It's a survival tactic. We know it well, and we too often think that there is no alternative, so we get very stiff in what we will allow ourselves emotionally, behaviorally, even mentally!
Acting, however, is all about being wrong, with permission, with approval, and with a whole bunch of "musts" around it. That makes me so happy! It carries the opportunity of being absolutely free!
If you're saying, "Sign me up!" - or even if you're saying, "Sounds interesting but what the hell are you talking about?", keep reading.
There is only one thing I know of that will help us begin to break out of our perfectionism brainwashing: actually experiencing its opposite: unapologetic self-expression, pride, confidence, unhidden humor and opinion, and emotional truths.
Experience beats mental exercise. Mental over-exercise is what got us into this mess in the first place. Instead, NEW experience + untying the mental knots: PRICELESS! What got me there: acting.
Acting is what took me out of my rigid self-definitions; learning to emote from a real expression of me! Suddenly I could no longer say, "Well, that's just the way I am," when I now knew that the way I am could be changed when I had the courage to embrace a different mode of being!
Let's take everyone's favorite Number 1 fear, public speaking. What on earth could make you feel better about that? Acting. Acting invites you to explore the art of being wrong, and then finding out how wrong is oh-so-right. Let me give you an example.
Let's say I'm working on a monologue. I'm at home alone and I'm reading the monologue aloud while I'm on my feet - only way you do a monologue sitting down is if your character can't use their feet or legs; otherwise, you're up, baby! Now, I'm practicing - I'm home alone - no one can see me. So I start "acting out". I choose an emotion through which I'm going to speak those lines.
Anger: To be or NOT to be??????? [subtext: like, are you kidding me???]
Love: To beeeee.......or not to be..... [in my imagination, I'm stroking the face of a lover - hey, have at it, it's your imagination]
Amusement: To be??? Or NOT to be??? [BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!]
To get to each separate emotion, I have to be willing to feel. Feeling is rather frowned upon in our culture, but it's what we have to do if we want to be fully alive while we're here - if what we want more than "surviving life", is to create a life that we want to be engaged in.
So, now that I'm actually feeling, and playing with those emotions through my words, and I'm recognizing that some of these emotions are in fact "wrong", or rather whackadoo, for the purpose of the situation and/or the character, here is where I get to embrace being ABSOLUTELY, FLAMBOYANTLY WRONG!
You know when you feel wrong. You know it all too well. But here is what you do instead of adapting: instead of trying to stuff yourself back into the "well-behaved" box of being perfect or appropriate, you start looking at this "wrongness" with open eyes. You start questioning. You stay open to inspiration. You listen to what you're doing and see if you realize that some part of this wrongness might be applicable.
In other words, you start discovering.
That's a simple sentence with enormous consequence!
I start discovering.
If I'm paying attention to my emotions, my physical responses, and I'm allowing them to just be - without responding to my automatic need to "fix" them - I am getting to witness my own discoveries!
Then, wrong is oh-so-right. It's the place of "the happy accident", which is something I rely on in my artwork as well!
If you try this exercise, your mind may tell you that you're a crackpot - and in fact you may be, in which case join the club! - but what you have also done is expand your emotional repertoire. You've broken from All Things That Make Sense, and you have begun to understand that it is emotion that pushes meaning through the air between us, and not just the words themselves.
You have made room for experience in your experience!
You have made room for yourself in your experience!
You have broken from all of the rules that keep you looking and feeling and acting just like everyone else. I think of it as a kind of birth, that freedom. Watching people walk into their freedom: INCREDIBLE.
Being the person walking into her freedom: PRICELESS!
Women's Leadership Coach and Speaker Lori is the author of Call Center Crazy and The Human Solution: Human Solutions to Every "Unsolvable" Business Problem,
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Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business structures, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, Founder
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
The Feminine Face of Business
Cincinnati, OH 45205
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