12/22/2014 01:41 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2015

How to Rise Like the Phoenix

The image of the phoenix rising from the ashes is powerful.

It's about transcendence, transformation, overcoming obstacles, victory.

But you can't rise above your circumstances without being in your circumstances first, and you can't be in your circumstances if you don't allow yourself to feel through them.

And not pick-and-choose feeling. I want to feel happiness, but I refuse to acknowledge pain. I want to be stimulated, because I don't want to feel something else -- boredom or stillness or simply being.

Life is tricky in that respect. You can definitely (and people do) move through life without a great amount of feeling attached to their daily experiences.

I understand that at one level. We're all doing the best we can. For some people, to truly feel means to get in touch with things that are so unfamiliar and unknown that to actually feel them would be almost excruciatingly scary. So they choose instead a sort of somnambulistic (sleepwalking) state through life.

They desensitize themselves to the real vicissitudes of life -- the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the bursts of madness and anxiety and desire and love and hope and excitement. To live in those places is too much for many, so to choose to live in a non-feeling coma is preferred.

Again, I get it. Some of us have been rejected or abandoned or hurt or punished when we've expressed or shared feeling. Even worst, some of us have been traumatized and scarred by life.

But if we stop at the trauma, if we stop at the rejection, if we call it a day at the defeat, the whole transcendental aspect of life -- the resurrection, the becoming, the transformation -- can't occur.

You can't have it any other way. Redemption lies in overcoming that which seems insurmountable. If you don't rise above it, the circumstance wins. The story can't change.

When you live in that feeling portion and move through it, that's truly not only when the phoenix within each of us begins to rise, but it also heals, restores, rejuvenates, reaffirms, and re-inspires.

But you can't have it both ways. Or rather you can. You can choose a life of safety and complacency and dulling out the edges and comfort, or you can be OK with opening your heart even when it wants to remain closed. Being giving of spirit even when it would be easier to shut down. Taking risks when you'd much rather do nothing.

So get burnt by it all. Put yourself out there gloriously, loudly, dramatically. Risk, be seen, fail, fall, embarrass yourself, reach for awkwardness, discomfort, and the unknown. Trust that your story -- your autobiography -- through your life and your work is worth telling. Because it is.

As an artist, it is your moral obligation. That's where art comes from. That's what acting is. It's inexplicable at the core level. That can't be taught. It has to be lived.

And when you do, you wake up to the phoenix that dwells within each of us.

*originally published via Backstage*