Are you afraid you’re not good enough to be a full-time working actor or creative pro? I have definitely had those same fears, that I’ll never achieve a certain level of success or live the kind of life I really desire. What I have learned is that pretty much everyone has these doubts, and while you can’t mute them completely, you can learn how to turn down the volume.
Fear is a bully. And — just like bullies — the more power you give it, the more control it will have over your life, your health, your dreams, and your success. And ultimately, is that fear worth your happiness? Nope!
Read on to uncover where the fear of not being good enough comes from and how you can learn to manage it.
Why do we feel we’re not good enough
Let’s face it – the life of an actor can be tough sometimes. I love the way acting coach Anthony Meindl puts it, “Sometimes acting is going to kick your butt, dunk you in soapy water, and mop the floor with you—and that’s OK!”
Rejection is more of a regular occurrence in creative fields, where people usually move from project to project. Plus, the entertainment industry is very competitive, so we’re often pitted against one another, which leads to constant (unfair) comparisons.
And because our body is literally a part of our acting instrument, the extra scrutiny on how we look, sound and act can create an unhealthy obsession with “being perfect”.
It’s also very natural for humans to dwell on one negative comment from the past instead of the hundreds of compliments we have also received. Once upon a time, fear was a useful tool to help us remember where danger lurked and how to avoid attracting it.
And it still can be, when it’s under control.
But when we dwell on a fear of not being good enough, we begin to lose trust in ourselves and our talents. Keep that nasty habit up long enough, and you’ll create a chronic issue that can lead to anxiety disorders, depression and frankly, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
In her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers describes 3 types of common fears we all experience.
- The fear of time and what it inevitably brings with it – change, old age, and possibly illness
- The fear of taking action, which is essential to moving toward your goals and dreams
- The fear of an ego attack (i.e. being rejected or failing miserably)
And when we spiral into not feeling good enough or capable enough to handle anything, we are combining all three fears.
But the point is not to never feel fear again; that’s impossible. Instead, we can learn to manage our fears so we can move past or through them and continue to make progress.
How actors can handle the fear of not being good enough.
Here are four quick ways you can handle the fear of not being good enough.
1) Monitor Your Self Talk
Current Batman Robert Pattinson told TODAY in 2019 that he still gets nervous walking on to a new set. “I always think the first couple of weeks of a job, they’re going to say, ‘Yeah, this isn’t going to work out,‘” the actor joked.
What is so great about this comment is how honest he can be about his fears. And that is the first step in being able to manage them. When you learn what triggers your worry and self-doubt, you can prepare for it and repurpose that nervous energy.
Pattinson continued to say that when calming methods didn’t seem to help, he figured out a way to use his fear and anxiety to “charge” his performances. Successful people, in every field, do this too – face their fear and do it anyway.
2) Use Empowering Affirmations
Out with the old and in with the new! If our thoughts and words are how we manifest actual, tangible things in our lives–introduce more positive thoughts into your daily routine. One way I love to do this on the regular is to create personalized affirmations I can speak aloud each morning.
And don’t write off this practice as woo-woo or outdated! Affirmations are a helpful psychological tool that retrains your brain to look at things in a new way. And when you can cater a tool like this toward your specific circumstances or emotions, it supercharges your chances of staying consistent and seeing solid results.
This practice is also helpful if you haven’t quite found your supportive tribe yet. You can be your own hype man by using affirmations to nurture your most important relationship – the one with yourself. Here is a quick rundown of how to write your own kickass affirmations, if you need some guidance.
3) Acknowledge Your Achievements
I have heard many mentors say that you cannot build on success you don’t acknowledge, and my friend, you have accomplished so much… even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
If you don’t already have a list of wins, get out a piece of paper and start making one right now! Fill it with praise from teachers, memories of great auditions, performances you’re most proud of, and jobs you’ve booked.
Then get personal and focus on all the ways you’re a wonderful child, parent, sibling, friend, partner, and neighbor to people in your sphere. Because your achievements aren’t just about work, work, work.
Keep this list in your purse, post it on your mirror, or keep it in your car for whenever you need a reminder that not only can you do hard things, you’ve already dang done them!
4) Practice Taking Risks
I know it seems counter-intuitive to “practice” something that often happens spontaneously, but you may not be ready to dive headfirst into a scary situation. So focus on taking small actions every day to push you past your comfort zone.
Action precedes motivation; once you realize how great it feels to work past your fear of not being good enough, you’ll want to do it more often until it becomes a normal part of actor life.
If you need any more convincing, check out all these casting directors, coaches and industry people who shared their advice for actors afraid of not being good enough. Their advice? Let go of what other people may or may not think and embrace your fabulous self.
How do you handle your fears as an actor? Which of these tips will you try this week? Let me know in the comments below.