Controlling stage mothers

by Lauri

There I was, being whipped and flogged by the Controlling Stage Managers™, wondering where my passion had gone.

I was a much more controlling person as a twenty-something actor than the me that you see before you now.

Back then I’d show up to rehearsal on day one expecting to have it all figured out. 

Trying to get it right. 

Because of all that energy wasted on trying and controlling and working and pushing, I kept getting sick.  

At least once, before every single play opened: S.I.C.K. Sick! 

Pre-COVID, we actors could have a fever of 103, and … just … KEEP … GOING!
(and eventually take the entire cast down with us, but I digress.)

During rehearsals for a play called Proof, I finally listened to the clue the Universe had been whispering to me all along.

I was playing Claire, the controlling older sister. 

She’s often portrayed as a two dimensional bitch. I wanted my version of her to be a real life, lovable, flawed, 3-D human being. 

Four days before opening, there I was in rehearsals with my 103 degree fever.

I could not push. I could not force. I did not have anything extra to give. 

I only had enough in me to ride the wave of energy in the room. To listen and respond in the moment. 


I did not have enough energy to fuel the Controlling Stage Mother Soul Suckers™. 

They quieted, and my passion returned. 

My life force carried me. I was back in a flow state. And despite being sick, it was awesome!

When I finished the run-through that day with my fever of 103, the director looked at me and said, “I don’t know HOW you just did that. You’re sick as a dog, and yet we somehow loved you and were irritated by you as the controlling older sister all at the same time.”


That’s all the thinking my foggy mind could muster at the time. 

Later, as the fever broke and the fog lifted, I thought, 

“What if I CHOSE not to work so hard?”

“Maybe, if I led with freedom instead of force, I could skip this whole ‘needing to be sick to have a breakthrough’ thing.” 

Those “what if” whispers led to gold!

These days, I let the creative process in rehearsals be awkward and messy – like paint on a painter’s pallet. I regularly lead with freedom instead of force, allowing myself to have breakthroughs whenever I have them. 

Sometimes those breakthroughs come on day one. Most of the time they do not. 

Every now and then I falter and do things like trying to carry the whole show on my back. Whenever the workhorse-martyr part of me grabs the reins, I gently remind myself to release my white-knuckle grip and feel my way, one step at a time, by listening and playing with everyone around me. 

Like mine did when acting, the Controlling Stage Mothers may try to convince you that it’s all their hard work that provides value when you speak. 

It’s not. 

It’s your soul, presence, and connection. 

We’re raised in a world that over-values effort. Our Soul Suckers only understand what we do, not who we are.

The truth is WHO YOU ARE is the most valuable thing about you. Not what you think. Not what you know. Not what you do. 

When you’re gone, the thing that the people who love you will miss most of all is your PRESENCE. 

YOU are a GIFT.

Which Soul Sucker do you need to release to free your voice? Take the quiz now and find out. 

With passion & love,


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