Martin Challis

november 2005

I Changed the Way I Saw the World

Over a long period of time I had been in the midst of a personal struggle, complete with emotions ranging from depression to bitterness and anger to resentment. Coupled with the personal struggle was an increasing awareness of the world around me, seemingly full of natural disasters, political battles, warfare, and the threat of imminent viral pandemics. My experience of the world was that: Life is about suffering.

As the days and weeks went by I experienced overwhelming heaviness, wherever I looked there was no lustre, no spark, and no joy.

I was able however to find some reprieve from the overwhelming weight when involved in my work. In the middle of rehearsals the actors needed my best. Responsibility to them and their performances offered some distraction, and for short periods of time I was able to distract myself from the nothingness. However as soon as rehearsals were over, the feelings would return.

A few days ago I decided that something had to be done. This could not continue. Should I seek help from a counsellor? Should I go to a doctor? I became determined to find an answer.

To find the answer was to first understand the cause of all this. I understood that the catalyst to this state of being lay in uncertainty. I am coming to the end of a contract and the job position is being advertised nationally which means I have to reapply and go through the whole application process if I am to secure another contract. Part of me was interpreting this as a kind of rejection. Why didn't my employers see my worth and just rehire me without all the hoopla? And as my mind raced on I began to interpret my colleague's behaviour as suspicious and almost saw a plot unfolding to get rid of me. I was becoming paranoid and suspicious, not a healthy state of mind.

I was determined to sort out the mess but decided not to seek the help of others. I decided that I would split myself in two and part of me would become a 'scientist' conducting an experiment on the other part which was experiencing the 'suffering'; I'll call him the 'client'.

The first step for the scientist was to decide on a line of questioning. He asked the client to describe in detail all the things he was feeling and what he associated these feelings with. The scientist concluded that all the feelings and negative emotions the client was undergoing were all linked to past experiences where the deepest fear or core vulnerability was rejection.  

Once this was named, the client experienced the kind of relief that comes from putting down a heavy weight after it has been carried for a very long time. He was lighter and more satisfied than he had been in a long time; he asked the scientist, where to next?

The scientist suggested it was the mind of the client that had a formed a pattern of thinking that associated amongst other things, the impending job application process as a form of rejection and of being unwanted. As it was the mind of the client that had formed this pattern, an experiment should be conducted to see if a different way of thinking or new pattern could be formed that would offer relief; and thereby create a fresh perspective.

The client was a little dubious but none the less agreed to the proposition. The scientist suggested that for 24 hours the client implant in his mind that he did not wish to apply for his old position as he had made plans to go freelance next year, take up short term contracts, further his studies and his writing and make himself available for creative projects.  

The client agreed to this experiment and began to implant the new pattern into his mind. At first not much happened. However after only a few minutes the client began to experience a new sensation. Encouraged by an increasing lightness he kept working with the new pattern. He started to imagine possibilities. He began to have ideas and saw himself being creative and fulfilled in his new role. He could see he would be sorry to leave his old job but accepted that as life changes so must he. He felt free and his heart filled with an emotion that had been absent for a long time, he felt joy.

The client looked at the scientist in disbelief. The experiment had been a huge success and hadn't even gone close to the original 24 hours. The client thanked the scientist and said he understood that whatever happened with his job all would be well.

Leaving the scientist and the client I step back into myself and see the potency of the mind as a tool for construction as much a tool for destruction. I realise that I haven't changed the world around me I have changed the way I look at it. Thanks to the scientist in me I have moved from a position where I was experiencing Life as suffering to a place where I can accept that Life is often about struggle. If I use my mind and emotions as tools for construction out of struggle can come growth.

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About This Article

©2005 Martin Challis
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Martin Challis is an actor and director in Australia. He recently commenced a coursework Doctorate in Creative Industries developing projects such as The Raw Theatre and Training Company. He's also the director of the Studio For Actors and Ensemble Works.
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november 2005

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