The Movie Extra: The Drama of Overplaying our Emotional Pain

I recently was asked to be an “Extra” in a movie being filmed here in Washington, DC. I was in the “background” as a media/press cameraman but I had no idea as to what, where, how the scene fit into the movie. As you know these movies are not shot in any particular order, but in in pieces and edited. It was interesting nonetheless as I was along for the ride. But little did I know I would get a life lesson from it.

In the first scene shot, the female star of the movie pulls up in a limousine to make a grand entrance for an awards gala. She gets out of the vehicle, stunning, beautiful, radiant, all smiles and waving at the crowd. The fans and the media are yelling they “Love” her. Her escort/beau gets out of the car with her, they are obviously an item as they adoringly eye each other. He proudly escorts her up the grand stair case as they are followed by the media mob. That scene was rehearsed 2 times and then promptly shot in 3 different camera angles, with each angle done in 2 takes for maybe an hour.

For the next scene, the actress bolts from the lobby, running down the steps out to the curb hailing a cab. It seems the actress must have been very upset by something her beau did inside at the gala. She is terribly distraught. That scene was shot from maybe 6 different angles, and multiple takes and even some shots were done inside the taxi as it whisked her away down the street. Her makeup and hair was repeatedly touched up. That one simple brief scene of a few seconds, took a couple hours to film, over and over, from every angle possible but upside down.

But I got to thinking after the movie shoot wrapped for the evening, that it’s much like life. We seldom replay the good that has happened in our lives, but we will dwell on, recall and replay over and over the worst of our past.

We become the writer, producer, director and all the actors playing out the story on the set designed and built inside our minds. But it’s not real, it’s just a memory. I can’t look inside your mind and see anyone inside there doing anything, no movie sets. It’s simply made up by you.

The problem is, the past is not real. It’s merely a recollection of what we recall infused with emotions. All that’s real is the present moment. Right now, wherever you are, you reading what I have written here, that’s all that’s real.

Again, the happy moments we play over every now and then. But the events in life that are hurtful, painful and traumatizing, we play them ad infinitum and ad nauseam in theater of our minds. We have the actors set up in our memory to play it with emotion and intensity, vivid embellishments to the story. We direct the mental camera from the “he said/she said”. The facial expressions, attitudes possibly the sounds and smells are added as well. Then we rehearse it over and over from every side and mind camera angle. We get better at remembering as we make it more volatile and upsetting. Every time we tell it we are moved by our “story” and implore others to hear our story and be moved to see it our way.

What we don’t realize is living this way is only holding us back from living the life we deeply desire. We know we are here for a purpose, but somewhere along the way we got sidetracked by living a life as we experience the negative emotions, stresses, anxieties, and limiting beliefs.

As we let go of the pains that have crippled and paralyzed us, we are then able to choose and plan the life we do want to live. We can infuse the new pattern we want to live with the intense joy and happiness we do recall from happier memories. As we play this new script over and over in our minds, this becomes the natural default expression for our lives. This is true emotional intelligence that leads to living an empowered life and in freedom.

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