5 Mantras Every Actor Needs

shutterstock_1215928345A career in acting is filled with the kind of soul-crushing frustrations, insecurities, disappointments, and hardships that will make you want to burn down your life, move to Canada and join the maple syrup mafia. (Don’t do this but do look it up. It is fascinating and alarming). 


If you’re in it for the long haul (acting, not the syrup thing), you’re going to need some quick tools to focus your energy, clear your mind and reprioritize when the rejection gets you down. Having tenets of your own actor bible to go back to will help train your self-talk to support you instead of tearing you down. Mantras can be a quick way to refocus if you give them the right power. Choose your words with care. Choose phrases that fire you emotionally. And then give them strength. Pair them with meditations, aromatherapy, working out, crystals, screaming into pillows–whatever helps. Just find a home base ritual to make them feel sacred and tangible to you. Here are some themes to get you started. 


    1. I Can Only Control Myself. As an actor, so much is out of your control. Artistic collaboration is a beautiful thing, but it means that you won’t always agree with the direction the project is taking. Your scene partner won’t support you, your director will mismanage time, you’ll disagree with your set coach or the stage manager will be phoning it in. You can let these things eat away at you, destroy your faith in the production and undermine your work. Or, you can breathe, remind yourself that the only thing you can control is yourself, and refocus on giving the best performance and being the best collaborator you can be. 
    2. I Deserve to be Here. This one is tough. I don’t know any actor who hasn’t, at some point, succumbed to the creeping whispers of impostor syndrome or faced a long dry spell without once giving a cautious side-eye to that terrible thought, “what if this is it?” But difficult as it is, cultivating tools for a healthy and positive mindset is essential. Find a mantra that works for you. That empowers and inspires. Word it however you like, but give it strength. No one else in the world can bring you to the table. You deserve to be here. 
    3. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint. It is so easy to get hyper-focused on the present project and lose sight of the long con. But we have to keep perspective. Even when a setback feels overwhelming, remember, it is not the end of your career. It just isn’t. Even when you fall flat on your face in front of everyone you respect. Even when you lose the role of a lifetime. Even if you get fired. Your career is your choice. You can choose to keep going, keep auditioning, produce your own work, move cities and start over. If you choose to keep being an actor, that is your choice alone. So don’t let a rejection (or a long string of them) get you down. It is a drop in the bucket of your career. 
    4. Failure is Valuable. If you are building a career in the arts, you must embrace failure. If you’re not failing spectacularly from time to time, you aren’t taking risks or challenging yourself. Learn to value failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let it become an indictment of your talent. 
    5. My Job Does Not Define My Worth. This is the big one. I struggle with this daily. For so many of us, acting can be all-consuming until it is difficult to separate your identity from your passion. But to have the kind of mindset that sustains a long career, you must remind yourself that acting is a part of your life, it does not define your life. You are a worthy person outside of what you do and what you care about. This is what will keep you going when things get rough. If you adopt no other mantra, choose this one. 


However you choose to utilize or manifest mantras in your career, these are valuable building blocks for the foundation of your mental health. As we’ve talked about so many times before on this blog, you are the only one driving your career. Take care of yourself. Prioritize your mindset and give yourself the tools to move forward.

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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