I studied acting for many years. I thought acting would help me become somebody. I think it did. Much of what I have become and been able to accomplish is due to my acting training and experience.
The one thing I learned from acting is how to become something new. To become means to be comfortable with new qualities, behaviors and skills. Think about what an actor has to do. He has to transform his own thoughts, feelings and actions into those of the role he is playing, the character he is portraying. To do this well, he has to commit to those thoughts, feelings and actions so that he believes in what he is doing and so that others (the audience) believe in him as well.
I want to be clear, acting is not faking. The actor must believe in what he is saying, feeling and thinking. Acting is about being real with what you feel in the moment of the play. Acting is, in fact, a transformational experience.
You can learn to transform yourself using similar techniques that actors use to create characters. Your objective is to become something new and to be comfortable with whatever the new quality is. Here is how you do it:
- Decide what you want to become – maybe more confident, connected, attentive, powerful, expressive, you name it.
- Identify the script you are currently playing – what is in the way of having the desired quality. Ask, “What do I tell myself to explain why I am not ____.”
- Rewrite your internal script. Literally write a new thought that stimulates new behaviors and leads to the new quality. For instance, say you discover you are telling yourself that you are shy and uncomfortable with new people. Write a new script like, “I really like other people and I enjoy connecting everywhere I go.” When you start telling yourself this story, magic happens! You are thinking differently and you will start to act differently.
- Physicalize your new quality. As an actor has to discover how his character walks and talks, decide what physical characteristics will help you act “not shy.” In your living room, practice walking and talking the way you see people who exhibit confidence do.
- Use your imagination to get into the skin of your new “character.” This is my most secret technique for embodying desired qualities. I used to use it to help me create characters. Then I discovered I could take on any quality I wished to express using this same technique.
First, get into a relaxed state with eyes closed. Then imagine a person who is like the person you want to become. Visualize yourself walking up to this person and having a conversation. Ask the person how he was able to be like he is. Ask what you can do to be like him. Listen to what the imaginary person says. Then, imagine that you step inside his body. Walk right in and turn around and wiggle down into his skin. Give yourself a little time to settle into the skin of your imaginary person. Notice how you feel to be in his skin. What feels different in your body. Finally walk around the room. Talk outloud.
In the beginning, this exercise may seem strange because you are not yet comfortable with the new feelings and behaviors. But after you do this exercise a few times, you become comfortable. You become the quality you desired.
Yes, you can become anything you want to be. You have within you the possibility of expressing all the qualities of humanity. With a little effort and practice you can be comfortable being whatever you wish.