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  • Mark Westbrook

Defeating Your Inner Critic

Unless you have been blessed with unusually high levels of self confidence, chances are you will feel a bit of (or a lot of) self doubt about your acting at some point in your career. A bit of a wobble now and then is fine, but sometimes these nagging doubts can seriously hamper your chances of finding your way into your chosen school, getting that audition, or even ruin your public or on-camera performances. 

But how do you get rid of self doubt, nerves and stage fright once and for all? Here are five very good tips you can try, to get rid of that sneaky interference which is trying to ruin your acting career:

FOCUS. If you are completely absorbed in the task at hand, there will be no room in your head for that nasty, undermining little voice which tells you you’re not good enough. Completely starve it out; don’t give it any head space whatsoever. Concentrate entirely on the task at hand, whether that be preparing for an audition or learning lines, and you will effectively push out the ominous voice of self doubt. As an added bonus, you will probably do really well at what you are concentrating on, because you’re giving it so much more time. Make sure that you have an absorbing task to carry out - it’s the mental equivalent of giving your inner critic something heavy to carry. They will be too distracted by that to criticise you. 

BE OBJECTIVE. Ok, so like just about all the actors in the whole world ever, your inner critic is managing to convince you that you’re totally rubbish and you don’t deserve to succeed. It’s spinning you a colourful web of imagination, showing you clips of what will happen when you fluff your lines (because that’s going to happen, surely), and inserting horrible pictures into your mind of you living in the gutter, years after your first acting failure. This is all nonsense! Try not to imagine too far into the future, and don’t let that mean little voice make you believe something that hasn’t happened.

NAME IT. Naming your emotions, feelings and thoughts is a great way to deal with them. Especially if you pick a funny, silly name for your inner critic, you are taking away its power and reducing it to something that is not scary at all, and maybe even something to have a little chuckle at.

DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF. The rest of the world will do a much better job of it than you do, trust me! You don’t need to add a single person to a list of people who may judge you negatively, especially if that person is your very own self. Look, you’re taking steps to live the very best life you can, and you’re following your dreams. How many people can actually say that? You should be incredibly proud of yourself for even setting foot on the path, let alone for making it to that audition and standing up in front of other actors and strangers and giving it a go. It’s okay to analyse what you’re doing right and wrong, but not to beat yourself up about it too.

WHAT WILL BE WILL BE. Now that you’ve got that Doris Day song stuck in your head, remember this one. Whatever will be really will be, and as long as you’ve done your best and given it your all you have nothing to berate yourself with.

Tell that inner critic to do one, in whatever way you can. Your life, and your acting career will thank you for it.

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