GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK
“What did you love about that?”
At the Studio, this is a question we often ask our actors right after a scene. “What did you love about that?” Recently, somebody asked me why we do that.
Well, it’s very scientific and complex. Kidding! It’s actually quite simple. When you reiterate – out loud – what you thought went well after a scene, an audition, a performance, you are more likely to repeat those ‘good behaviors.’ If you kept great focus during a scene, and you verbalize that, your mind will ask the questions, “What did I do to keep great focus?” And when you’ve answered that, you will have reiterated it in your brain. It’s like self-generated positive reinforcement that jump starts you to begin repeating a good habit.
Another very important reason we ask this question is that it gives us the gift of not always relying on outside sources to tell us that our work is good. When we ask “What did you love about that?” we no longer have to look solely to the Casting Director, or our Agents, our Managers, our fellow actors – the list goes on, to validate us and tell us if what we did was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We no longer place all of our worth, all of our opinions about our talent, in the hands of another. We can look to ourselves as well. Let’s be honest, we all probably replay our audition, our scene (on-set or in class) back to ourselves at least once after it’s over, trying to figure out where we might have done better. Why not start by changing that narrative and acknowledging what we did well, first.
Because just as we can initiate the repetition of good habits, we can also initiate the repetition of bad habits. One way is by only focusing on what you didn’t like about your work. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t look for ways to improve! Critique is good! And necessary for growth. As long as it’s constructive; it’s very specific and if your teacher, director, etc. guides you in finding a specific solution. But remember – constantly reiterating in your mind what you did ‘wrong’ will cause you to repeat it. Acknowledge it, find the solution and keep reinforcing good habits. You’ll grow exponentially!
I challenge you to try this and believe me, in the beginning you’ll find it to be a challenge. It’s not as easy to be kind to ourselves about our work as it is to criticize it. Next time you walk out of that audition or finish your scene in class ask yourself, “What did I love about that?”