There are a few words I’m frankly sick of hearing lately. OPTICS is one of them.

TRIGGERED however, is not one.

Here’s why: As artists, we’re always triggered.

It’s our freakin’ job.

We are paid — and paid well at certain tiers — to access (without much lead time) deep emotions. Sometimes dark emotions. Sometimes deep, dark emotions we’ve SUPPRESSED in our own lives.

Because the story calls for it. Because the character we’re embodying needs to live the experience, no matter how gutting it may be. Because we’ve decided we’ll use our own instruments as tools to help the world find its healing.

And look around. Healing is important, y’all.

But let’s back it up just a wee bit and touch on one of my very favorite topics: self-care.

You know I’m all about pattern-tracking, right? It’s how Self-Management for Actors was born. I interviewed hundreds of casting directors and their teams and began to amass data (and data never lies) about how this business works at its core. Sure, there are outliers. There are anomalies. People *do* win the lottery! But outside of those rare lightning-strikes success stories, there are data-backed experiences that actually make tackling this business a lot less crazymaking than we may feel it has to be.

The more upper-tier creatives I work with, the more patterns I see in one specific area. Self-care is a MUST. *Especially* when stuff’s going on that’s taxing — that’s when protecting yourself, giving yourself loads of recovery time, and really watching your self-talk is essential.

Me? I don’t watch the news. I filter what I’m exposed to through some heavily curated sources (yup, that’s why I follow fewer than 60 people on Twitter and under 200 on Instagram — on Facebook? “I have no friends”). I stay plugged in enough to know what’s up but not so much as to spiral me out from focus on my purpose.


We’re storytellers. We’re meant to do the difficult things like make freakin’ meaning out of senseless goings-on. We’re here specifically to help those who can’t understand reality find an escape through our art. We’re a voice for those who don’t often (or ever) get heard. We have important work to do, y’all.

And we’re no good to anyone if we let stuff that’s triggering take us out of the game.

Find a way to let it stoke your creative fire.

For me? That means therapy, massages, gadget-free hours (and days), trusted people to talk it all out with, and checking in with myself about how I’m doing rather than blocking out what’s coming at me.

What does it mean for you?

I’d love to know! Comments are open just below and I read every dang one of ’em.

Feeling triggered? Try not to hide from that. Feel it. Write about it. Put it up on a stage. Sing it. Make it into a story that heals others who don’t have YOUR GIFT for converting painful shit into art.

You’re important.

Don’t forget that, okay?

Wanna be sure your tools *and* your mindset are in peak form? Let us get you in gear with some FREE training right now!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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  1. Nikolaus October 2, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Dear Bonnie!
    Your email hit me at the exact right moment. Your words really echoed within me. Thanks so much for that. Sometimes I think in a much smaller market like Austria the “rules” as in hollywood don’t comply. And sometimes I loose the connection but yours words about healing, and being good to yourself and inspiring others and getting up and do something with your Inspiration really meant something to me. Thank you again for your words.
    I bow to you

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      So glad this resonated with you! <3

  2. Don Smith October 2, 2018 at 3:53 am

    Hello Bonnie, not from Austria, as above, but from Australia. But like Nikolaus from Austria your words have hit the mark for me too. So many set themselves up as gurus or experts in this business that one is constantly on alert to sort the wheat from the chaff. With you, however, you’re such a breath of fresh air, of wisdom, of common sense, of right thinking. I recently purchased your ‘Self Management for Actors’ and it has become my bible that rests beside my bed near my other Bible of a different kind. I’m carrying some very painful emotional scars that are indeed the source of creative juices for me. They give me a sense of enormous power that I feel I have barely began to tap. But they need to be handled with care – with self care. Loved what you said about actors being a voice for others. I can not think of a more noble reason for why we do, what we do.
    Nickolas so beautifully said he bows to you. I do also.

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:15 pm

      Glad you’re taking care of yourself and your instrument. It’s so very important.

  3. Mercedes Rose October 2, 2018 at 8:34 am

    I always adore your blogs but this one is a fave! Self care is vital to my balance and I attribute much of my happiness to that balance. No news is a big one for me as well as well as following hilarious people on social media that can always provide a much needed laugh. My other big self care is also technology based: no notifications. None. Zero. I don’t need to know every time someone likes my tweet. Another thing I have started to do is keep my phone on Do Not Disturb at all times unless I am expecting a call. My “faves” still ring through and I have my family I like and important industry people listed there. So my agent telling me I booked a national voiceover or my producing partner saying NBC is reading our script still ring through. But my mother in law saying she discovered a new soy free recipe goes to voicemail where it belongs. Little technology things that make my life easier. My other fave self care is to make sure I always have a book I am reading just for fun. Right now it is Juliet, Naked after having adored the recent film. And finally, I use TV in a self-care way. Sure, I also use it for my Show Bible but I let myself just enjoy it as well. Thanks for another great blog!!

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Yes yes yes to ALL of this. Self-care #goals!!

  4. Kristin Mothersbaugh October 2, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Dear Bonnie,

    Thank you for this so important point. I have experienced a block in emotions in my acting because for years all I did was suppress my trauma and soldier through. I now am realizing that I must express my emotions and take the time to process them in my everyday life to be a better actor. And it’s working! I appreciate this beautiful reminder, and it’s a wave of healing all performers give to the audience. It is so important.

    Many blessings to you!

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      <3 <3 <3

  5. Adam Henslee October 2, 2018 at 9:26 am

    “Me? I don’t watch the news. I filter what I’m exposed to…. We’re storytellers. We’re meant to do the difficult things like make freakin’ meaning out of senseless goings-on. We’re here specifically to help those who can’t understand reality find an escape through our art.”

    Hey Bonnie,

    Diggin’ this so much. Was just talking w/ a few friends about all the craziness normally going on in the news.

    I find myself not so much analyzing the situation and picking sides like a lot of people do (ultimately people want a team behind them, and when you’re on a team there has to be someone the team is against) but I like to try and understand why people are the way they are. Why they make the choices they do and what could be the reasoning behind it.

    And that’s our job as storytellers. To find these deeper meaning in all the happenings in life and to amplify them out for others to see and hopefully understand.

    Really enjoyed the email. Appreciate you and all that you do

    – Adam

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks for this, Adam. LOVE that you really try to understand both sides — it can certainly be a challenge at times.

  6. Jillian Ferry October 2, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Bonnie-Freaking-Gillespie- I love you! and I love this article. What a spot on way to describe what it is we do as Storytellers and why are jobs are so important. When I’m triggered I turn to my friends. Saying my problems out loud make them real and its then that I can address them and make a change. I also try to remind myself that the things I’m usually triggered about aren’t actually any of my business. I can’t control how other people feel, choose to react or live their life! Whew! What a weight lifted.

    1. Millie Jean Warren October 2, 2018 at 11:33 am

      “I can’t control how other people feel, choose to react or live their life!”

      OMG isn’t THAT a burden we hold on to so strongly. T_T

  7. Brigid October 2, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Thank you SO SO much for writing & reminding us of this, Bonnie. I am currently doing a reading where I play the memory/ghost of a woman who committed suicide. Last week, during tech/dress, everyone was buzzing in the dressing room about the Kavannaugh hearings and everything going on in the news, which is like emotional black ink for me (and of course, you guessed it – highly triggering). So I’ve started isolating myself from my trusted castmates before shows (which really sucks), but then I took a breath before our first performance last week and realized – this can be HELPFUL. I’m demonstrating self-care by limiting my access news/media, and also channeling the resulting isolation/feeling of vulnerability into the character I play. It actually helps me feel so much more vital when I step onstage – like I really do want to connect with my castmates even more, because I was deprived of connection prior to the show (which puts me in a prime position to understand my character in nuanced ways I didn’t even see coming). In this way, we can channel being triggered into a helpful coping mechanism!

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      This is great work, Brigid. It can be tough to distance yourself from the community (especially right before a performance) but kudos to you for recognizing that’s what you needed and putting yourself first.

  8. Maya Jean October 2, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    This email came at the perfect time, after a very rough week. Thank you for doing what you do. 🙂
    When I’m triggered, I usually retreat and eat. I’ve been fighting that urge and started walking more. I like doing crossword puzzles. I find them challenging yet relaxing. And a weekend of binge-watching Netflix cures all that ails me.

    1. Ninja Erin October 2, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      Netflix-binging FTW!

  9. Sarine Sofair October 3, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Thanks for this email Bonnie! I don’t get a chance to read all your work, but I like to have the option when I can.
    Self care was never as important when starting out, but over the years it has become a priority – it’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
    I work out -yoga, running, gym, dance – climbing a mountain. I keep an eye on all my nutrition. Write a version of ‘morning pages’, read great books and make sure I can find the right friends/relationships to talk to.
    But I know I need more… therapy is constantly at the top of the list, travel and general friendships that are in far flung places are my Achilles heal.
    It’s good to know I’m on track though… X

    1. Ninja Erin October 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      Self-care takes lots of forms, and great job for making sure it’s already a part of your regular routine. Make sure to celebrate that!

  10. Aerial Nicole October 3, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I loved this email, Bonnie. Self-care has become such a huge part of my life along with setting boundaries with certain people and family members. It used to make me sad to think about setting such firm boundaries but now I realize this is also a part of/form of self-care. Caring for myself means I put myself first and limit interactions with people, places, and things that get me all out of whack. I also loved what Erin said above about how “self-care takes lots of forms”. I totally agree with that! I now attend the chiropractor weekly, get facials regularly, exercise daily, walk outside more, take new fitness classes and do lots of sauna sessions. I enjoy it so much and it helps me to recharge and relax all at the same time. Incorporating things like baths and Abraham Hicks meditations really helped me as well. When I feel myself starting to be triggered or upset I try to meditate or think about how “everything is always working out for me”. Most of the time that helps me to calm down a bit in the moment. I love reading about how other fellow ninjas do self-care..<3

    1. Ninja Erin October 4, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      YES! Way to rock that self-care! 😘

  11. La Trice October 3, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    LOVED this email Bonnie! I feel a bit of pronoia happening here because like so many others who’ve posted, this email came at just the right time. Haven’t had the greatest of weeks so far, but when I read the email I realized I’ve been neglecting my self care. And truthfully, I didn’t even know what self care truly was until I participated in GIGFTNT, and learning the various ways to do it have been a life saver. Time to get tapping, or maybe do some deep journaling…perhaps even some coloring, haha! Gotta pick one! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ninja Erin October 4, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Right on!! ❤


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