Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Adam Mayfield Interview, Part Four

In Part One of my interview with Adam Mayfield, the actor shared his process of auditioning and getting hired on ALL MY CHILDREN. In Part Two, Mayfield delved more into how his own grief/loss issues have impacted his performance, and struggled with his own insecurities and self-doubts. In Part Three, the actor discussed thoughts about next year's Emmy Awards, ALL MY CHILDREN's move to Los Angeles, and how the actor has learned to use, "Absolutely Should-less" to help question destructive thought patterns.

In the final part of our interview, Mayfield reflects on ways to learn, change, and grow.

We Love Soaps: What Core Beliefs may be holding you back right now?
Adam Mayfield: That I’m not good enough. And I say that objectively. I’m able to see that for what it is. It’s just a belief. It's just a thought pattern. It’s this idea of self-diminishment. “Diminishment” really sums it up. Where did I get the idea? Yeah, family, I guess. I don’t know. But I think that underlies just about everything.

And in recent years I’ve become aware of how selfish that is. The idea of “selfishness” is generally applied to people who think too highly of themselves and look down on others. But I think “selfishness” applies just as equally to people who put others on a pedestal and look down on themselves. I think that is just as selfish, just in reverse. If you can focus on helping other people... if you want self-esteem then do estimable things. But I also believe that being too down on yourself is just as selfish as arrogance.

I think where a lot of therapy falls short is coming from a place of building up one’s own self-esteem and as opposed to focusing your attention outwards and helping other people as opposed to focusing on yourself. I’m not saying affirmations are bad. But maybe couple that with getting the focus off yourself. What I’ve found is that if you spend too much time doing this work on making you feel better about yourself, then you still get stuck in this selfish rut. You never really get better, you just have these moments where you feel better and come right down. I think the cure comes from really focusing on helping other people, putting the attention out there as opposed to keeping it in here, even if you think you’re fixing yourself.

We Love Soaps: This Core Belief that you are not good enough. Does this create stress or put extra pressure on you?
Adam Mayfield: Absolutely. I think there’s other stuff there. A lot of it is old thought patterns.

We Love Soaps: A friend of mine says that spiritual awareness without service is just masturbation.
Adam Mayfield: Yes. Just as self-help and psychoanalysis without service is just masturbation. I think we’re talking about the same thing across the board.

We Love Soaps: I have never found someone who is involved in helping others to remain significantly depressed. It does not stay stagnant.
Adam Mayfield: And you’ve got to get through the point of resistance where you’re saying, “I’m too down, I’m not going to be able to do anything, I don’t want to do that.” Do the thing and the inspiration will follow. Don’t wait to be inspired. I’m glad we’re on this tangent because I’m having to remind myself of all this. The more I talk about it the better off I am because I’m reinforcing it in myself just by saying out loud to you.

We Love Soaps: And this is why I wrote a book about "shoulds." I wrote about the things I needed to learn and reinforce within myself.
Adam Mayfield: It’s all self-serving. It’s the perfect crime in a way. The more we can be of service to others, the more we can help others, the more we’re helping ourselves.

We Love Soaps: What do you think it’s going to take for you to relax into the Core Belief that you are good enough?
Adam Mayfield: I think honestly some of that will come with age. The older I get, the less I care about stuff that’s not worth caring about. I get more confident. I get more mature. And staying on top of doing good things for myself and doing good things for other people. And this can happen on the smallest of levels. Just making a point of being nice to everybody. That’s a way of being of service.

And also to continue to do the work. I swear, it seems like every week or two weeks I have another little revelation on my acting. Sometimes that’s a real struggle for me because I’m pulling my hair out as to why I may not be feeling this, or riding the [emotional] wave in this scene, thinking, “What’s going on?” Just to continue to do the work will help that. One thing that helps me a lot and keeps me inspired is to continue reading books on acting. I get to practice this stuff every single day. The more I can read the greats, Uta Hagen, Stanislavski, Boleslavsky, I read this stuff at home and I get these insights. I read and see there’s another great way of applying this fundamental tool, and then apply at work the next day. It keeps things fresh, it keeps me on the incline of a learning curve. These all help.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I hope you've enjoyed this interview. As always, comments are welcome!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He has started blogging again at www.shouldless.com.

1 comment:

  1. This was so intimate as to be almost uncomfortable. Wow! I'm so surprised that Mayfield was willing to confess this level of self-belief...and his process for overcoming undermining self-statements.

    I think this interview shows, again, the special niche Damon occupies as both a therapist and an interviewer. There is nothing else like this in the soap press. Even "in depth" magazines, like Vanity Fair, seldom get to this level with subjects.

    It reminds me most of a Canadian entertainment interviewer in the 1970s and 1980s, Brian Linehan. He's no longer with us, but he was one of the rare interviewers to try to plumb these depths.

    I suspect, at some level, this interview might actually scare some subjects...not everyone wants to get this personal in public. Kudos to Mayfield for baring it all.