As an actor or other artist, your creative work is often about making others experience emotions you express through a character or work of art.
But how well do you deal with emotions yourself?
Creativity coach, author and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD writes about how the creative life can be an ongoing source of stress – if we interpret or frame it as such.
He explains, “A stressor is anything, positive or negative, that makes a demand on us…We can normalize or even reframe many demands as opportunities, and when we do, the associated stress vanishes.”
From “The Stress Key” chapter of his book Making Your Creative Mark.
Actor Bryce Dallas Howard has commented about reacting to stress and emotions:
“Actors can have very long careers that last until the day we die, but there will be moments when you’ll feel like you’re a failure or when you’re disappointed in yourself.
“I’ve learned from my dad that those feelings don’t mean you should stop what you’re doing. They mean you should try even harder; you should push even further.”
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She also writes about the emotional and creative pleasures and challenges of their inner lives on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is an excerpt from one of her articles on the topic of emotional freedom:
When you create a piece of art or perform in a way that touches your audience’s hearts, connects to their dreams and challenges, or inspires them to change, how do you accomplish this?
You do it in your unique way, of course, but there is one thing that all the creatives and performers have in common: you reach people by accessing and connecting to their emotions.
It is through emotions that creatives and performers tell stories and reveal the essence of these stories.
Some of these stories are remembered not only for a lifetime, but also are passed on through generations.
Our human spirit lives through enduring forms of arts.
This sounds so amazing, doesn’t it?
And yet, what about the emotional demands that you, the creative or performer, has to face?
You’re called to translate your feelings into art, set aside your own feelings to evoke an emotional experience, emotionally transition from your art back to real life, and to navigate the challenging world of the arts and entertainment.
To make all this happen, you need a certain emotional flexibility, adaptability, and resilience.
So, how do you ensure that you have these “emotional abilities” so you can consistently – and safely – pour your feelings into your art?
After all, when you are called to use your emotional space in both your professional and private life, it can be easy to lose touch with your emotional resources.
The more you’re out of touch with you emotional resources, the more you tend to struggle.
You’re more likely to act out, feel like you’re being “inauthentic,” and lose your genuine connection to yourself and others.
This is when “defensive coping mechanisms” like repression, denial, blocks, projections, can start to cloud your mind and control how you feel and act.
Though your purpose as an artist may be to live with emotional freedom so you can create your meaningful life and art, when you fall into defensive territory you may find you can’t access that freedom.
How do you know when your “defense mechanism” are taking over?
If you find yourself feeling chronically unhappy or angry, empty and bored, unconnected and unfulfilled, unmotivated, sensitive and reactive to apparently insignificant issues, consumed by anxieties, lost in depression, or your reactions are taking you by surprise you may be trapped in emotional defenses.
Accessing your emotions to create or perform may not always feel like a simple task when you get trapped in some emotional defenses.
At the same time, you depend on accessing certain emotional states because they are the medium through which your art is created.
Sometimes, artists and performers find they hurt themselves in order to keep showing up and creating.
They need that emotional freedom so much that would do anything for it, including dangerous drugs.
All of us have mourned the premature loss of artists we love…
Yes, managing that fine balance between navigating the emotional demands of your career and being in touch with your true feelings on a consistent basis can feel like a tough state to do sometimes.
Yet, this balance is at the core of what it means to create, perform, and live with emotional freedom.
So, what creatives and performers can do to maintain this emotional freedom and not get trapped in emotional defenses?
Read more of this article (and many others on her site) :