Season 1, Epsiode 7
Today’s guest: Elle Bernfeld, LCSW, is a Brooklyn-based psychotherapist who specializes in artists, entertainers, and creative professionals. Her passion for working with those in the arts comes from her experience performing professionally and locally in the Los Angeles area as a child, as well as her years training at a conservatory as a young adult. In her private practice, she provides telehealth counseling to creatives of all kinds. Some of the issues she addresses in her practice are: identity, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, work/life balance, career transitions, and life purpose. A graduate of Columbia University and NYU, she has Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and Social Work.
Who Gets to Decide What Is Enough?
I started listening to the podcast "Dead Eyes" recently. I'd been hearing about it for a while, and now I haven't listened to any other show since I started. It's really good. The host is a character actor named Connor Ratliff who was fired from the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." He only had a small part in one episode, but the story he was told about his firing was that the director of the episode, Tom Hanks, said Connor had "dead eyes." This feedback haunted him for years and almost caused him to quit acting forever.
In the podcast, he talks about what happened to him after being fired and he also tries to figure out what exactly *did* happen to cause him to lose the "Band of Brothers" job (Spoiler: He does get a chance to talk with Tom Hanks on the show eventually, but I haven't gotten to that episode yet). He also chats with other actors about their experiences of rejection and failure in the business and finds out he definitely is not alone.
One of the early episodes of "Dead Eyes" (one with an unfortunate title) features the actor Tony Hale. I appreciated their conversation about fame what that actually means. Hale says regardless of the level of success someone reaches: "I'm sure there's still that part in all of us that think, Oh, but if I do this, it will be enough. It will be all okay. And the fact is: it's never enough. It's never enough. And it's a constant lesson to all of us to be like, 'Hey, let's wake up to what's around us. Let's practice being present.'
He tells host Connor: "You and I, we're the most known we're ever going to be, and ever going to need if people who are close to us know us and love us. That's the most known we're ever going to need. You know, it's just all of those kind of daily lessons we have--I have to wake up to."
I love the idea that our most important fan base is the people who know and love us. It can be hard to hang onto this concept, though, when there is so much pressure to perform and strive and keep getting more and more status. But when does it end?
Later in their discussion, Connor tells Tony that he interviewed the actor who replaced him in "Band of Brothers" and compared their career trajectories. In response, Hale says: "Even if that guy went on to win five Oscars and became whatever, that does not equate joy. That does not equate real living. If anything, these lessons where you grab onto that self-awareness and really see things around you, and really try to wake yourself up and see each other and love each other ... that's where the joy is. That's the equation."
I loved hearing this reminder to examine what success actually means to us. When we feel like we will never measure up or be good enough, it can be debilitating. And it definitely is joyless. Money and fame are great, but they may not give us what we actually need as humans. What do you think?
Rachel Moore, LMFT, (she/her) is a singer, musician, writer, and the host of the Beyond Artist's Block podcast. She is also a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist based in San Diego, California. Rachel is certified in EMDR and trained in Brainspotting, and she focuses on working with creative clients, including writers, artists, and musicians.