You have probably heard an acting teacher say “you’re too much in your own head!” If by now you still haven’t figured out what this commonly used phrase means, the answer is simple: it’s the practice that limits your true acting talent. Staying in your head and constantly overthinking your actions means being self-conscious and judgmental, and not being able to think positively when needed will ruin your audition before it even began.
Let me explain.
All actors experience a rush of thoughts going through their mind minutes before going into the audition room. However, some of them already know how to control this chaos of thoughts and think positively; others don’t and, therefore, they let negative thoughts get a hold of their actions, consequently ruining the strategic plan for their performance. Fear overcomes them, their confidence levels sink and instead of thriving during the audition, actors are trying to survive.
The only way to let your mind go free — explore, create and perform — is to forcefully switch on your positive thinking, and sometimes that requires skill and strength of mind.
How to Get Out of Your Head and Think Positively
1. You must stop your negative thoughts at their roots, if that makes sense. It sounds easier said than done, but with practice, anybody can learn how to free themselves from the indefinite circuit of “I’m not going to make it,” “I’m not prepared for this audition,” “There’s no way they are going to cast me,” “I will definitely forget my lines,” “This is stupid, why am I even doing this?!”
The more you think about them, the more focused on these judgments you become. At this point self-consciousness, doubt and nervousness make a glorious appearance. There is only one way to get out of this loophole: focus. Learn how to focus your mind, grab and hold your negative thoughts as if by hand in order to think positively.
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” – Edmund Burke
2. After the first step has been accomplished, erase your previous thoughts completely. Once you found and focused on the root of your negative thoughts, drop them at once. You need to find strength and means within you to do so.
Every person is unique, so you must find your own way of accomplishing this task. Me? I like to sit down and start thinking hard on how awesome the audition is going to be in order to drop those negative thoughts (this is the next step). I can’t walk because for some reason it distracts me, while a lot of my actor friends usually stand up and walk around in order to focus and think positively. Success coaches advise engaging the body, sometimes very actively, to format the mind completely.
3. Now find something better to think about and focus on that. The shortest path here would be to change your previous way of thinking. For example, if you were thinking negatively about the audition, exchange it for something like: “This is another audition I’ve gone to and have on my list as a possible job! A few more auditions this week and I’m a legend.” Do not make the end result of getting the job your focal point — auditioning is already a win for you.
Another way around this is to think of something further down the road. An audition that’s happening in 10 minutes shouldn’t be the center of attention anymore. Think of the one you have next week. Maybe you can think about that filming a week after, or you can focus on that play you’re doing next month and how people will come backstage to congratulate you? If you feel the urge to worry about something, make it the worry of not looking tall enough next to your partner on that red carpet premier after the movie you’re doing next year.
Just find something to stop perpetuating the negative thought.
Wrapping your head around something that isn’t real in order to think positively will never be perceived as a crime. Moreover, there’s nobody to judge you in your head except you. You’re the only pilot of this plane. Fantasies are a great way to escape reality, self-consciousness, nervousness and drop into the world of creative freedom. Most importantly, fantasies are fun to think about.
Training your mind is not easy by any means. But it’s not impossible either. Like with everything, it takes practice. Dealing with rejection, public speaking and constant judgment takes a lot out of actors. Having a thick skin and clear mind is something every budding actor has to strive to achieve; it’s part of the job. Trying to think positively whenever it’s required is almost like living under imaginary circumstances at all times — living your life “as if”; and actors sure as hell know how to do that.