Hi everyone, it’s Stop Cyberbullying Day 2016.
I’m honoured to once again be an ambassador for this organisation which helps so many people young and old navigate the web and social media with ease and confidence.
I was recently in conversation with a friend; an ex actor who has since become a psychologist and counsellor. We were discussing the path between the two professions. The ‘tools’ which made her so competent were ’empathy’ and ‘observation’. We talked at length about patterns which we fall into, narratives which we give ourselves and the idea of ‘leaving yourself alone’.
It’s one of the big lessons in life, to leave yourself alone. Meaning, just stopping those inner voices, mainly the negative ones, which turn up and on, like ‘clock work’. When we have this critical inner dialogue with ourselves, we do lean towards turning that outwards, towards the world at large.
We all do it, we have expectations not just for ourselves but for how others should behave and function around us, face to face and in cyberspace. When we start to free ourselves from those expectations we allow ourselves to be surprised without judgement.
Much of my work as an actor is stimulated by empathy and observation. I’m acutely aware of the kinds of characters that I play and how I play them and what I’m putting out into the universe. Earlier in my career I was very much focused on ‘hero’ or ‘anti hero’, good and bad. As I’ve grown older the pursuit has grown far more complicated. I’m sometimes berated for depicting violence or much deeper, darker, complex characteristics of the human condition. My choices really reflect my views on humanity. I believe every human being deserves empathy. That word is often misconstrued; to me it means ‘to put oneself in the shoes of another in the attempt to understand them’. It’s key to my work, and perhaps, as my friend the psychologist suggested, key to functioning harmoniously in society. Its a good word. It’s not easy to practice.