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Thicken Your Skin

Most actors are far too easily offended. The sensitivity that makes us intuitive, compassionate artists can wreak havoc in our personal and professional lives. There will always be a million little things with the potential to annoy and irritate us in the entertainment industry – and life in general.

Vexation. Indignation. Frustration. Aggravation. Exasperation.

We can’t choose the gremlins that come our way each day, but we can actively choose calmness and inner peace over a sense of annoyance, irritation, stress, and inner turmoil.

Michael Caine said an actor should “be like a duck – calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” And Ralph Waldo Emerson told us “nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

I believe Carlos Castaneda summed it up best. “Self-importance is our greatest enemy,” Castaneda wrote. “Think about it – what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.”

The best thing about having teachers, coaches, and mentors is that we don’t have to figure out the answer to all the world’s puzzles alone. The next time someone pushes your buttons – in an audition, acting class, rehearsal, talent agency or casting office – remember the sage advice of Caine, Emerson, and Castaneda. They figured it out before you were born. Let’s benefit fully from all the worldly wisdom they bequeathed to us. Let’s make up our minds to thicken our collective skin as actors. This takes focus and attention, but is well worth the effort in the long run.

Don’t be so easily offended. Don’t take umbrage. Leave umbrage. Leave it outside the building in the trash can where it belongs.


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