How I Learned To Get Past Thousands of NOs
Last night, talking with a friend, I offered a technique that has helped me last as long as I have in the Show Biz world of frustrations, rejections, broken promises, shattered dreams, fluff, bullshit, fake people, built up false hopes, unreturned phone calls, feelings of disrespect, not getting parts, people passing on my scripts, people letting me down, good auditions that didn’t result in jobs, and bad auditions that felt like they crushed my soul…
Now, whether or not I developed this technique on my own, or I borrowed, learned, stole, or adapted some part of it from one, or a variety of classes I took, books I read, or series of various cassette tapes I listened to during my years selling pharmaceuticals or during my early acting days, I don’t know, I only know that twenty plus years ago, it greatly helped me move beyond things that were in my past, both recent and distant, and help me create tools to “let go” easier.
As silly as this may sound, and as ridiculous & insane as I may have looked doing it walking down sidewalks in Manhattan, I can remember the exact street I was on when I first tried this technique. I was dressed in cool weather clothes, walking in the sun, on the South side of 23rd Street, slogging Westward, towards 5th, the Flat Iron Building & Madison Square Park. I can’t remember what rejection, acting job, or phone call that I wasn’t getting that I was obsessing over… But it was just one more broken dream piled on top of a huge stack of NOs that were weighing me down, and I was at a point of bending back the breaking point, from feelings of heartbreak, being punched in the metaphorical guts, and perceived defeats…
At that very instant it hit me, I decided I would give myself one solid minute to obsess about whatever I was obsessing over, and for one, exact, timed, sixty seconds, I would allow myself every permission, every ugly thought, every crazy fantasy, delusional drama, crude curse word, everything I could think of that had anything to do with whatever one particular thought I couldn’t let go of. For one minute I could curse out the people involved, blissfully consider how my life would change if the phone rang, dream of who would be on the other end, how stupid a particular person was for not choosing me or calling, how much of a victim of circumstance I had been… Whatever… No rules… No censorship… No apologies… Anything that came to my mind was permitted and encouraged… And all this as I was walking in full view of the passing public… At the same time I forced myself to tense EVERY SINGLE MUSCLE I COULD, as those thoughts flew through my mind, holding on to everything that surrounded that obsession, as tight as I could.
When the minute passed, and my body and mind had both been worked, once again I’d look at the watch on my wrist… I gave myself 30 seconds to let everything go, before I made myself DO IT ALL AGAIN. However, this time it would be for half the amount of time… After 30 seconds, I had to tense my muscles up again, gripping and holding, for 30 seconds, once again thinking of every single thing I was obsessing about, with that one particular issue I was stuck on… I could repeat things that came up during the 60 second silent rant, explore ideas and thoughts further, rant on things I discovered in the 30 break, mention things I forgot in the 60, or come up with new crap that just popped into my head in the moment.
At the end of those 30 tense nutty moments, I gave myself another short period to relax… But after about 30 seconds, I’d split the time again, giving myself only 15 seconds, tense up, grip, hold, after getting clear and specific on what I wanted to obsess over. Another short break, 30 seconds or so, I’d split the time again, 7 seconds, to hold on to and obsess over… By the time you get to 3 seconds you only have time for one thought while tensed up… And at one second it’s pretty much only a singular feeling that you’re able to obsess over and let go of.
I loved the results so much that I used it many times afterwards, and still, to this day, though I’m able to move past things much quicker, and I’ve found other techniques, I occasionally find myself employing a mutated version of the gripping obsessing technique. And if there has ever been a singular issue I wasn’t able to move past by using the TIMED TENSION method, I would simply repeat it, starting back at one minute, and again, each time splitting the time in half, till I got back down to 1 second.
I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this publicly before, and perhaps you’ll find my silly, simple technique hilarious or worthless… But if it helps even one of you get over one singular thing… And move on to a more creative, positive moment afterwards, then perhaps it was worth the time in me writing it down and sharing.
It’s getting off the mat when we’re knocked down and no one seems to be routing for us that’s equally as important to having a dream and believing in your talent.
– Quiche Out