“Follow your instincts.”
You hear this a lot. Especially in acting class.
It’s sound advice. Trusting your gut is generally a good thing
But is it always right?
In many cases, following your instincts is the exact, wrong thing to do.
When you swing a baseball bat or golf club for the first time, ypur instinct is to use all arms. That won’t get you very far in either sport.
When you’re hungry and a giant plate of food sits in front of you, your instinct is to shovel it all down as fast as you can. Enter stomach ache.
When someone or something stirs up your emotions, your instinct is to respond immediately. To react with whatever you’re feeling at that moment. This usually leads to doing something you’ll regret later.
Even when acting…yes, as the character we should absolutely feel everything. Have our instincts firing.
But then we should conceal. Try and regain control. That’s riveting to watch. Because it’s truthful. It’s what we do in real life.
And isn’t what makes us uniquely human our ability to go against our natural instinct at times?
To be courageous when we’re afraid.
To be generous when we want to be selfish.
To lead when we’d rather follow.
To make a change when we’re told it can’t be done.
Greatness happens when we persevere in spite of the odds.
Sometimes going against our instincts is exactly what we need to do. That’s where “the better angels of our nature” can prevail.