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Posts Tagged ‘acting and reacting

Let’s sum up acting and reacting – and bring them together by looking at Japan.

We want to be fully aware of the world around us – and yet also empowered to choose to act differently. Yes, following the earthquake today in Japan, with horrifying tsunamis and 50 countries alerted. However, does it serve anyone to panic? Think of it this way: if someone you know is in hysterics, does it help them more to be there for them, and hold them… or to also go into hysterics?

Obviously the latter isn’t helpful. This reacting does nothing but reinforce helplessness and add more pain to a situation.

However, our reaction is likely connected to our ingrained societal scripts – which is part of how we act. Both, in fact, are part of our learned identity.

It doesn’t help to get caught up in our stories. So what’s an alternative? Awareness practices assist us in watching them, and creating some new breathing room for new aspects of ourselves to emerge, in tune with the environment.

Perhaps, with their assistance, we can move into a new place of action – a combination where we are able to react consciously. Or, to act in attunement with both our centers and with the world. That is to be in tune with the environment, but also to find our center.

So: don’t ignore what’s happening in Japan, or when disaster strikes in the world or in your life. Do what’s needed. But don’t simply get wrapped up in how it’s presented in the media. Choose to act in the best way you can: send love and any assistance you’re able.



As we’ve seen, both acting and reacting have their upsides and downsides. Now, obviously we’re taking “acting” away from its theater meaning… or are we?

Acting on Stage – and in Life

An actor, in a traditional play, has a script she has learned, rehearses, and then performs on stage. We too, have learned scripts we’re playing out, often without realizing we’re doing so.

In improv, however, the improv actor’s job is to react to the current moment. Now, a lot of “bad” improv is out there – where the improviser is trying to be funny (e.g., create a funny character) rather than truly listen and respond, which makes it feel inauthentic. Similarly, if you are not appropriately responding to the current moment, you might appear a bit fake too.

Next: integrating the two.

Being an Actor, Acting, and Action

Last post we addressed reacting. Now, let’s focus on acting – being an actor in your own life. To act is to choose how you move through the world. Your actions originate with you at the center of your universe.

Benefits: You have more power to determine your own destiny.

Drawbacks: You may in fact be disconnected from other people, and could act inappropriately to the present circumstance.

Worst case scenario: You’re in your own head and not aware of what to do. Or, you rebel from the status quo, trying to be your own person – but in fact rebellion is still a type of reaction.

Best case scenario: You can walk through life and make conscious choices for the highest good, regardless of what is happening around you.

Part three: how these relate to “acting” on stage.

In your life, are you an Actor – or a Reactor? Both are essential. Let’s take a look at them, and how they can work together.

Reactions, Responding and Reacting

The most typical way of being in the world is to react. This is understandable, as it’s fairly habitual. Social constructionists say that our personalities are formed in response to everything around us – and we continue to reify and reenact those patterns unless we undertake an act of intervention (e.g., therapy, meditation, or a dramatic life event).

Benefits: You’re in tune with everyone else.

Drawbacks: Everyone else determines your reactions, triggering your own habitual responses.

Worst case scenario: Being a “nuclear reactor,” where external stimuli set off internal explosions that ricochet back to others and create unhappy dynamics.

Best case scenario: You know what’s happening with others, and are in touch with the best way to respond to them.

Next, we’ll take a look at acting.

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