“I’m Going to Kill Myself?” To Relieve Stress?

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    Acting can be a healthy release of pent-up emotions.

    – It may be the Easiest Way to Relieve Stress and Frustration on the “bloody job”or even at home, but probably not the best way. Ya think?

    This is not a training exercise–not yet anyway, but maybe it should be. Killing ourselves would not be a bad idea as dark and foreboding as it seems in the right place and time. Theoretically. What if you could do any thing you wanted painlessly, without consequences? Would that help relinquish our frustration with life? However, the idea of ridding ourselves of stress, if not for others, is a good one. Great art in its many forms can be cathartic. So why not acting? Haven’t you ever wanted to be someone else?

    This is real life or is it, according to, Tracy Kathleen in her blog, “Finding the ‘Method’ to my Madness: An Actress Prepares.” The title of her particular post is “I’m Going to Kill Myself.”

    Life is too hard. I am at the end of my rope. I am alone. I will have a bottle of vodka and a loaded gun and I am determined to put an end to my misery. I have done bad things in my life. I have been hurt and I have hurt people. I have cheated and been cheated. I no longer feel like I have the capacity to love and be loved…

    …But most importantly, I have played many a character, which is exactly what I am doing now. So please, put down the phone, don’t call for help…I, Tracy, am not going to kill myself. But tomorrow, “Maggie” is going to end it all.

    “Playing a character, otherwise known as “acting,” allows me to do all the things I just said. I can kill myself. I can kill someone else. I can cheat. I can be a sinner or a saint. I can be happy, sad, funny, and mad. I can be anyone else other than myself. And although I love myself, I do not exactly have the life I dreamed of. But on stage, I am no longer me. I am not in chronic pain. I do not feel like my life is passing me by and taking with it a thousand missed opportunities. I am not responsible for my actions, only my emotions. When I am on stage, I am someone else. And, when it comes to acting, I am pretty darn good, probably due to the fact that I have been pretending to be someone else for most of my life.

    “If you look at an acting class from a psychological perspective, it can be very beneficial for people who are in pain, be it physical or emotional. Acting is a safe haven, a place to express every emotion, reaction and feeling that is not acceptable in society. For example, I can’t scream, yell and cry in public without being looked at as crazy and possibly being locked up. I can’t express my anger, hurt or frustration by throwing things around or having a fist fight. I can’t have a laughing fit in the middle of a store. So many of the emotions I (and others in similar circumstances) have are socially unacceptable. The rules of our society dictate that it is not okay to express your every emotion…but on stage, I can let out every single emotion I have built up inside me…and it’s safe. There is no judgment. As a matter of fact it is the one place where the more emotion I bring to my character, the better I am!

    “Many local community theaters offer inexpensive classes. When I was a practicing social worker, I actually utilized some of the exercises we do in class as a way to help people get in touch with their real emotions and express them in a safe way. I also used improvisational comedy exercises to help people both release emotion and LAUGH. Laughter truly is the best medicine (not to mention the adrenaline of performing acts as a potent, temporary pain blocker). Try an acting class and I guarantee, you will not only find a healthy release for those pent-up emotions, but you will probably bust a gut doing so. It doesn’t matter if you do it as a psychological exercise, a hobby, or you are Broadway-bound, acting is a healthy, safe release.

    “My acting class is the one place where I can be someone else and at the same time, really be me.”

    ***

    frust-lapI couldn’t have said it better. I have said similar things about the relationships in areas outside the familiar–outside the cave–or outside the box. I talk about using whatever works no matter where it comes from to make a point. I talk about acting, communicating, problem-solving using various approaches including psychology, karate lessons, and even military basic training.

    It all boils down to something as simple as getting someone outside of the office, literally or not, to take an acting class or to bring the acting class to them, in this case. That is what we do, isn’t it? Ever given a class dealing with change in the workplace or use role playing as part of a training exercise? Same thing. In those cases, we are taking the client/trainee out of his or her world and helping them see a better place without the stress. You may recall the different methods of problem solving I talked about in an earlier blog. My old psychology professor said that you used what worked to solve a problem; it didn’t matter if you slept on it, meditated about it, prayed about it, cogitated about it, the result was the same. You were still doing the same thing–just calling it something else. You were letting ideas bounce around in your head while you were in a relaxed state of mind.

    What Tracy has written is what we all have in common: a need to release of frustration and stress as well as other emotions that affect us daily. We send our company leaders on retreats to help them refresh, but everyone needs this. It proves even more the value of role-playing in training as an icebreaker or as a way to break the tension between co-workers brought upon by stress in the workplace. As Tracy says, when you are someone else, you can do anything. Well, you can’t hurt anyone or yourself, but you know what I mean.

    I was about to say something about developing training about this, but I changed my mind. Why do we have to control that moment? We don’t. Do we have to analyze and assess the result? Only in so far as the employees enjoy it and feel a release of stress. There is only issue that comes to mind: I wouldn’t try this with my most conservative companies until I have several of the more adventurous companies to to try it and back my claims that taking an acting class did indeed release stress, etc. The companies we talk to are often a bottom line bunch as you know who may think that “acting” is “frivolous” or “just pretending,” but we can work with that.

    That’s all for now. I’m not even going to spend time promoting my books or website. My thanks to Tracy for providing us some great ideas to ponder. Check out Tracy’s blog and her interesting posts. Heck, check out other interesting posts that have nothing to do with training. You may surprise yourself and find connections where you least expect them.

    Happy training ’til next time.