There is a tenet in acting that everything is usable. What this means is that actors use all feelings that arise when performing. Anything and everything can be integrated into the performance. For instance, if a character is supposed to feel sad yet for some reason the actor giggles, that is okay. Even if it doesn’t seem “right” for the context of the scene. This is because people have different responses to sadness. While it’s true that we often cry, we might also laugh to deflect pain. Or, have an angry outburst. Whatever the impulse, all feelings provide fertile ground for an authentic performance.
The same principle applies to personal transformation. Every feeling that arises can be invaluable. Yet we often sanitize our emotional experiences. Pushing down difficult feelings and only welcoming the joyful ones. Even in psychotherapy, therapists may have clients by-pass the more distressful feelings. But typically, the only way out of pain is through it. And emotions serve us when we can decode their messages.
So, the next time you find yourself tip-toeing around a challenging feeling, consider the gift it might offer. Can you lean into the emotion to see what it is to trying communicate? Experiencing the feeling doesn’t mean that you have to react to it in a destructive manner. For instance, if feeling anger, you don’t need to punch the wall. Instead decisions can be made regarding how to work with the anger.
So, I encourage you in life and in art, to let yourself have your full experiences. This is where the deepest growth occurs. And where the most beautiful artistic expression emerges. Even when we think to the contrary.