All the World’s a Stage, Part II – Staying Awake in the Dream

All the World’s a Stage, Part II – Staying Awake in the Dream

Dr Joe Dispenza | 28 March 2023

In my last post, I shared a question a professional actor asked during a recent Dr Joe Live about taking on new roles and personas – and how that may impact our progress in this work. If you missed Part I – where we examine the idea that we’re all actors, in a sense, on a hero’s journey in this 3-D plane of demonstration – you can read Part I here.

There are many ways we can apply the skills actors use to create and inhabit a new character to our benefit in this work. We also can learn to become more aware of ways we’re overly identified with a character that no longer serves us … so we can free ourselves from habitual ways of being.


Embodying New Characters

Actors know how to embody their characters to such a degree, they can enhance their own personality. And they understand it takes practice. They have to learn their lines. They have to understand their character’s motives. They have to physically as well as mentally rehearse their actions, thoughts, and feelings – as that person – until they get it down. Until they know their new character – inside and out. They know the script – in every sense – and through that knowing, they become that character.

Just as actors can use their craft to change themselves, we can use similar skills to change ourselves. Any time we can embody the feelings ahead of a new experience … any time we mentally rehearse how we’ll act or feel in a new future … we’re using the same “muscles” actors use to inhabit a new character.

In my book, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,” I outline some open-ended, frontal-lobe questions we can ask ourselves to prepare for the new person we’re becoming:

  • What would it be like to … ?
  • What is a better way to be … ?
  • What if I was this person, living in this reality?
  • Who in history do I admire, and what were their admirable traits?

With awareness and intention, this can work for us in really wonderful ways. The more we practice; the more we rehearse; the more we cultivate the emotions of our new future … the more prepared we are for a new experience. The more we’re ready for the unknown.


Letting Go of Old Characters

On the other hand, a problem might arise for us if we’ve rehearsed a character and told the “story of our life” so many times, we’ve become that persona. We identify with that past personality – and the resulting present personal reality – and now it’s hard to break from it.

If we go unconscious … if we don’t make active choices … if we don’t carefully select who we want to be and who we don’t want to be … we have a pretty good chance of defaulting back to our old, familiar selves – our old characters – again and again. That’s why, as we’re contemplating the new “character” we’re creating, it’s important to ask ourselves these sorts of questions, as well:

  • How will I behave when I come up against inevitable challenges and obstacles on this journey?
  • How will I prepare myself for the discomfort of the unknown?
  • What aspects of my old personality – and my old personal reality – will I have to overcome to evolve from a protagonist to a hero?

It takes energy and effort to stay conscious of this process – especially when we’re beginners. It’s a challenge for even the most experienced among us. I have a friend – a highly skilled, successful actor – who once told me he’d become so immersed in a character, he had a hard time letting it go when he was no longer professionally playing the part. He’d spent years learning how to become that persona – and it took concentrated effort to leave it behind when he returned to his daily life.

For many of us in the process of change, we’ve been “practicing” our “old characters” for a long time – probably a lot longer than an experienced actor inhabits a role.

The point is: If you’re having difficulty being anyone but “you,” then you're really good at the habit of being yourself – and it’s hard to be anybody else.

As with all aspects of this work, we need to be patient with – and kind to –  ourselves. It took some time to become the character we are right now. And it might take some time to evolve beyond that character.


Walking As It

It’s a marvel that actors can completely lay down their personas to become someone else. However, with intention and practice, we can develop these skills, too – and use them to our advantage.

We can build the muscles for change and develop our own sense of neuroplasticity by getting really good at being as many characters – upgraded characters – as we can. And let’s remember, when we’re doing it, that it is an act. And there’s plenty of time, every day, to practice taking on that new persona – as the actor on the stage of our own personal reality.

We can take the value from each one of our characters – so we have a broader perception of life and can see reality through many different lenses and personas. And that’s a really inclusive way to see ourselves in the world.

Years ago, when I developed my approach to Walking Meditations, it was with these skills in mind – to practice mentally and physically rehearsing, repeating, and inhabiting a new way of being. To inhabit a new self. We’ll revisit what it means to “walk as it,” and the importance of practicing with our eyes open, in Part III.