Friday, March 2, 2012


These are uncertain times for many people. There are many established professionals whose careers have been wrested away by an ailing economy, and many young people struggling to build a life for themselves in an over-saturated market. There are lonely people wondering if they will ever be blessed with a life partner, and there are those who grapple with walking away from an unfulfilling or toxic relationship. These uncertainties can wear away at our spirits, leaving us feeling depleted, depressed, and unworthy. Psychotherapist Bonnie Katz, who counsels those in the (notoriously uncertain) performing arts industry, confirms that uncertain times have the power to keep people locked in constant anxiety. This anxiety chips away at self-esteem, making it difficult to hold on to past achievements, and nearly impossible to put our best foot forward.

So how can we overcome anxiety when we find ourselves in an uncertain place in life? In her article, "Dealing with Uncertainty", Bonnie outlines eight points to help gain perspective, reinforce confidence, and make a positive change. The points are geared toward the actors she counsels, but can be wonderfully applied to anyone.

You can begin working on your uncertainty by following these eight tips:

1. Know and understand your emotional blocks caused by old belief systems formed from past wounds.
Replace negative self-talk with positive words that will move you forward instead of backwards.    Remember playing those negative tapes in your head will only set you up for fear and unhappiness. Stop them now! 

2. Focus on the process and not the outcome. 
When auditioning, stop fixating on whether or not you will get the part, instead set your intention on simply having an illuminating experience. Think journey not destination.

3. Make generosity a way of life.
Giving to others will bring you more balance. What you are experiencing will feel a lot less overwhelming when you open your heart and give to others. 

4. Dwell in the present without obsessing about the past or the future. 
Practice being in the present moment by learning mindful meditation.

5. Avoid comparisons.
The next time you are among other actors waiting to audition, look around and see them as colleagues not competitors. You are all in the same family. 

6. Stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
Instead, strive for excellence in everything you do and be content in knowing that is enough. 

7. Gratitude will protect you from unhappiness. 
“People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals.” –Robert Emmons. 

8. And above all when you feel doubt and uncertainty, stay grounded by remembering who you are today including all of your accomplishments and successes.

"Change is possible, but it takes time and effort just like everything else that is worthwhile in life.
Don’t expect outside material things to take care of your internal insecurities, it’s an inside job.
No one can give you anything that will be worth more than what you give yourself.
To deal with the uncertainty in your profession and in your life, don’t let fear shrink you.
Learn to face the fear of uncertainty by keeping an open mind and an open heart.
Strive to be a courageous soul who welcomes whatever shows up at the door today." 
-- Bonnie Katz, MFT

If you ever find yourself in an uncertain place, I hope these points help you to remember that your unique gifts will light the path out of the darkness, and give you the strength to overcome anxiety.

Photos: Natalia Vodianova by Paolo Roversi styled by Cathy Kasterine for i-D via FGR

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