Danny Steele: “Realize and be aware of when you compare”

Learn the importance of boundaries and how they tie into responsibility You are 100% responsible for your life and choose to make decisions based on what you know. Once we really realize that we are both the magician and the trick, we can start to make crucial changes to our lives for the better. Through […]

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Learn the importance of boundaries and how they tie into responsibility

You are 100% responsible for your life and choose to make decisions based on what you know. Once we really realize that we are both the magician and the trick, we can start to make crucial changes to our lives for the better. Through awareness and flexibility of boundaries we can give ourselves what we need in a self caring way and not have to cross them to please others to the detriment of ourselves.

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Danny Steele.

Danny Steele is an actor of stage and screen — because of the various hats he wears as a writer, a coach, and a voice artist he describes himself as a ‘multi-potentialite creative change maker’. A former nurse, and stand up comedian, he plays Floyd in new feature film ‘Invasion Planet Earth’ as well as Clyde in ‘The Last Day’ a role he was nominated for Best Actor at the LA Short Film Awards for. Later on this year he’ll be acting alongside Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson in the Jude Law produced film ‘True Things’. Danny teaches change maker and authenticity/empowerment workshops worldwide to individuals and groups.

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I got into acting through stand up comedy. I ran a couple of comedy nights in London and won a competition. That night i was scouted by an acting agent who asked me to audition for the play The Master And Margarita, from that i signed with him and started in short films and plays. I won a scholarship to the acclaimed Drama School Stella Adler in New York and when i came back trained with the acclaimed Giles Foreman School and Backstage Winner Anthony Meindl Actors Workshop.

As an actor, i am fascinated by the human condition. Both growing and expanding my understanding of the human nature and culture — to find my own edges and to soften them — learning that in the heart we have a brain, and the heart doesn’t have to listen to the brain, but the brain does have to listen to the heart. By dropping into our hearts we can always tune into how we want to feel and therefore use our hearts as a compass. My colleague, teacher, comedian and friend Cynthia Levin always told me to ‘listen to your body…what does your body want to do?’ and she’s right. By listening to my body i came to the career path of acting and teaching myself and others to love themselves more.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I love writing and so I’m slowly writing a book called ‘A Horse wearing Red Lipstick’ based on a series of short stories i wrote last year. They point to the nature of humans, our messy lives and our own individual stories. It talks about once we zoom out of that story, we see that essentially we are all the same and have the same need for connection. I hope that by reading the book, people may get stuck in their heads less and have a greater deal of compassion for both themselves and others. For me, compassion is looking at and feeling for, a resolution that involves the heart and the gut. 
Recently I’ve been excited again about auditioning and have given myself permission to go further — so I’ve recently auditioned for Oscar nominee Raoul Peck through Priscilla John Casting as well as developing the American version of me through Accent and dialect practice. I’m also in pre production to play an eccentric Ghost Hunter on a British /American Horror movie called ‘Creaks’.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

It’s been relatively recently I’ve accepted myself for who i am — One of my major tipping points was in 2018, following a relationship break up and unemployment, I spiraled mentally; didn’t think I could work artistically anymore and felt overwhelmed, a failure; I felt like no-one would understand and that I was on my own. Thankfully I came through this and have been working with actors, writers, artists and creatives in bringing a more meaningful and mindful awareness to themselves — i consider that a huge success that i was able to come through and understand myself on a deeper level.

Most of my close friends are consciously aware of themselves and i want to acknowledge the importance of having a level of support that reflects where you are in life.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

The consequences of people becoming satisfied with the external version of themselves (their appearance) are multiple. Comparison with another (especially looks/weight/physique etc) is a downward spiral, especially on Social Media.

Social Media, is of course, the big player here when it comes to comparison. For example there are many pictures on Instagram about the ‘perfect body’ for both men and women, people photographing themselves in the gym and there are may different screen filters to see this through. Body dysmorphia is a thing, but we have to ask why are more people comparing themselves to others? It’s about treating yourself like someone you love and remembering to do that more often — Frequently we forget that ourselves is our greatest gift.

Realize and be aware of when you compare. Don’t compare your own first day rehearsal to someone’s opening night. This is so important. Especially in our social media heavy world.

One of the ways that our comparison thrives is we think we have to ‘keep up’ with people by ticking off an arbitrary checklist of milestones. In doing so, we often miss what’s happening right now in front of us. If we replace our mental ‘to do list’ with a ‘to feel list’ we can love ourselves more and with greater depth..which brings us nicely to the next question!

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

It begins and ends with you. Loving yourself is asking for what you need and let’s not forget the little person inside you. Our inner child who always stays with us, let’s ask them what they need. Recently I’ve stopped and asked aloud ‘Daniel, what do you need right now?’ I get that by getting present, listening to myself carefully — this is important because it’s easy to step into overwhelm and to zone out of life by ‘stuff’. Often we criticize ourselves physically (my legs are too short, my nose is too big) and mentally (I’m so stupid..i forgot to do this, I’m a dumbass as i said the wrong thing’, the words we say to ourselves have energy and affect us on so many levels. Often we don’t realize just how much negative energy we are putting out into the universe and it doesn’t just affect ourselves, it affects the people closest to us.

Marshall Rosenberg talks about compassion and that we have grown up in a system that teaches us tragic ways of expressing ourselves — When we become aware of the limitations that we’ve grown up in and the common needs we all have for love and connection, then a space is created in which we can start to experiment being connected to each other, being compassionate for one another and for being present with another. Through this, brings connection.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

I think it’s very common to stay in ‘mediocre relationships’. Some couples are scared of leaving a relationship due to a variety of factors (don’t want to be on their own, children, mortgage etc) and carry on within that relationship — it’s a valid and OK reason to be with someone if you are scared of being on your own.

My advice would be to not just think about the reasons why you are with one another, but also ask does this reflect in other relationships in your life? perhaps work relationships or perhaps (more crucially) the relationship you have with yourself? Is your ‘Mediocre Relationship’ with another, actually a reflection of where you are with yourself?

We are attracted to, and repelled by, the traits of others as we subconsciously see those same traits in ourselves. So a mediocre relationship isn’t necessarily doom and gloom, it just needs the light of awareness to shine upon it.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

It’s also about learning radical responsibility for yourself — as Shakespeare says in Hamlet says ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ (which is also noted by Rumi and in A Course In Miracles) and this is hugely important in holding 100% responsibility for everything in my life. So if i took away the retributive element that ‘if i didn’t get it right, i would be less of a human being’, I’m able to look at my day and see where i could have acted on a much kinder, compassionate level — Radical Responsibility also looks like realizing that we are all manifesting our current reality — to take ownership that we are all creating everything around us including the stuff we don’t want because we can’t change what we can’t see.

Some questions that i like to ask are: ‘What Is my truth right now’? because if you are speaking from a place of truth, you are speaking from your soul.

Another question is ‘What is the most healing action i can take as a next step?’ after you’ve listened to that healing action, go into your breath, breathe and then take the next step — can you honour what comes up for you?

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

Jeff Foster talks about ‘being alone’ in that we are never really alone, but we forget ‘it’s not the presence of another we are missing but our own warm presence’. Whether we are in a relationship or not, it’s important to have time to ourselves.

Through Jeff’s work I have learnt to sit with myself so much better and listen to what i, and crucially, the people (the parent, adult and child in ego state) need. Listening to my body is the best self care practice I could give myself and getting curious about what feelings come up, where in my body am i feeling sensation?

Perhaps a re-frame is also needed here. Alone has a certain stigma attached to it. A re-frame could be to embrace solitude and space.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from?

We are Human Beings not Human Doings:

We are human beings, not doings. We don’t have to ‘do’ all the time. So i implement a ‘being’ part of my life. It could be a day or a few hours to just be and feel rather than do.

Develop a Meditation Practice.

It can be a traditional sit down and focus on your breathing 20 minute mindfullness meditation or it can be a mental check in when you’re on a bus with how you are feeling, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s a practice so the more you do it, the more in tune you’ll be with yourself.

Give Yourself Permission To Make Mistakes

We need to let go of the need to ‘be perfect’ and ‘to be right’, mistakes are a normal part of the process and learning to fail is one of the most kindest things we can do for ourselves.

Learn the importance of boundaries and how they tie into responsibility

You are 100% responsible for your life and choose to make decisions based on what you know. Once we really realize that we are both the magician and the trick, we can start to make crucial changes to our lives for the better. Through awareness and flexibility of boundaries we can give ourselves what we need in a self caring way and not have to cross them to please others to the detriment of ourselves.

What you resist persists.

So it’s good to remember that what we have resistance for will always be there until we see it and embrace it fully. Maybe there’s resistance to sitting down to meditate or phoning someone up and telling them how much they mean to you, it will keep happening and persisting until we look at it with compassion and love.

What are your favourite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships?

There are so many. I’m reading or have read recently:

Ana Forrest’s ‘Fierce Medicine’

Rebecca Black’s ‘Light Is The New Black’

Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic

Tara Brach ‘Understanding Compassion’ 
Jeff Foster’s ‘Falling In Love With Where You Are’ 
Jamie Catto’s ‘Insanely Gifted: Turn Your Demons Into Rocket Fuel’ 
anything by Brene Brown of course…

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

To have compassion. To start the compassionate movement. Now, perhaps more then ever, where the world appears divided, reduced to simple ‘us or them’ I’m right, you’re wrong’ ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ rhetoric, to have compassion for ourselves, leads to a compassion for others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

‘We never see things as they are, we see things as we are’ — Anaïs Nin.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

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