The Mindset of Actors - A Dangerous Habit When Things Go Well

A Dangerous Habit When Things Go Well

Sometimes in acting class, we got positive feedback. Sometimes we get a nice review. We win an award. Have you noticed how some people immediately move to downplay it? It's called Disqualifying the Positive (D the P) and it's a dangerous habit to fall into. 

In acting class after acting class, I see someone respond to positive feedback negatively.  In show after show, take after take, I see someone respond negatively to any positive comments. D the P is a type of distorted thinking where we cannot accept a positive.  What is happening? Our old friend Fear of Failure is back. 

If you were to accept the positive feedback, you may be required to do it again. If you don’t know how you did what you did, this will cause a massive attack of the Fear of Failure.  

So you dismiss it as a fluke, making a negative comment.  You discount the positive, it wasn’t deserved.  You are rationalising positive feedback in order to make it fit your Fear of Failure viewpoint. 

You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have heard someone swat away my positive comments about their performance. Your self-defensive mind is protecting you from the positive in case you lose it again.  Then it sets about not only diminishing the positive but sometimes even failing to see it!

How Do You Begin to Overcome This Habit of Disqualifying the Positive?

Writing about this particular obstacle will help. Write down whatever positive you are being offered and your response to it. Susan, the Director said that my performance today was right on the money, but she’s only saying that because she wants me to feel better about screwing up last night.”  

Now analyse what you’ve written and let's see if you can dispute it. Is Susan so keen to make you feel better that she randomly came up with a compliment? Probably not. Is it possible that you did something that Susan liked? Yes, she liked it enough to say something - people are quick with negative feedback but slow with positive feedback.  Don’t be afraid to turn it around.  If you had said to Susan that she had been right on the money tonight and she had responded as you did, how would you feel? Hurt probably. Why? Because Susan did a good job and you wanted to tell her. It was important to you to tell her. 

When you experience D the P. Stop. Imagine you’re giving that feedback. You would mean it wouldn’t you? Okay. Now accept it with a smile and let it go. It is not proof of anything. It is what it is, it was what it was, and you can now get on with the next thing.

To You The Best


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The 12 Obstacles

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful acting career is the inner critic, the voice in your head, but there are many more.

In this free advice guide, Acting Coach and Performance Psychology expert Mark Westbrook outlines the most common inner obstacles to success and offers you insightful and practical tools for overcoming them.

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