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Have you ever heard the phrase “life is not a dress rehearsal”?  These words were ones I first came across many years ago, and they have continued to hold meaning for me ever since.  It’s quite a neat little phrase, yet - therapeutically speaking – what does it actually mean?  In this blog post, I would like to unpack a little of what I feel is held within those six words, in light of my practice as a psychotherapist.


If we think of life as a show that we might see at the theatre, we can perhaps imagine that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to it.  Things warm up, things get done, and things wind down.  We might enjoy a particular phase that we pass through, but it is just that – a phase in our life.  We cannot ‘grab on’ or ‘go back’, but rather must look forward as that is most definitely the direction in which we’re heading.  We are ‘live’, and there’s no ‘pause’ button!


So, if we can agree that we are all (whether we like it or not), actors in this one-night-only spectacle, what kind of actors are we?  Do we wait in the wings until the ‘perfect’ moment to enter onto the stage?  Are we more comfortable waiting for someone else to take the lead, allowing us to then follow their example?  How would we handle a mishap?  If we fell flat on our face after tripping over another actor, would we lie on the ground waiting to be rescued, or get up straight away and dust ourselves down?  When the final act starts, would we yearn for another few scenes or would we feel that we’d made the best of our time in the limelight?


For me, the phrase in the title of this post is a call to action.  It’s a challenge to make the most of what we have, while we have it.  It’s a call to give it our best shot, and to recognize that ‘the show must go on’ even if we’ve taken a tumble.  It also brings to mind the fact that while we parade around in front of the lights, there may be opportunities to help out a fellow performer with their difficulties, or graciously accept the assistance of another cast member when we are in need ourselves.


When you think of your life, and the part that you play, are you satisfied with your role and lines or would you like to swap them for a different script?  How would you feel getting to the final curtain and realizing that you’ve lived in-authentically?  What do you want to do about it?  Hurry now – you’re on again in 3 minutes!



Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


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Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal | Ashwood Therapy Blog