Actress Shannon Esra On Learning To Trust Her Intuition

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Mental Health

The South African actress, best known for her impressive catalogue of local and international productions such as I Dreamed of Africa, The Queen, The Gamechangers, The River, Still Breathing and, more recently, season 2 of M-Net’s Lioness, is finally allowing her intuition to take centre stage.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time not listening to my intuition and it’s because I hadn’t understood the voice that was speaking to me,” she says.

Recently, she’s become conscious of where her intuition resides in her body. “For the most part of my life, I liked bouncing things off of people that I trust. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known people or how close you are to them, they will only understand certain dimensions. Whatever message comes from your own intuition is for you alone,” muses Shannon.

Staying Connected

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The truest way to connect to herself? Tapping into what’s happening whenever her intuition nudges her. We spend much time receiving the bulk of our feedback from the outside world. And sometimes, we do so while ignoring our primal and instinctual knowledge of self – also forgetting that the brain and body are built for survival – notes Shannon.

”Clichéd as it may sound, what I know is that our instincts are never wrong.” Along with relying on her instincts more, Shannon is also invested in healing her past traumas through therapy. She has a Netflix feature Do Your Worst film that was released in March. The movie’s about a failing actress about to turn 40, who’s dealing with some seriously bad decisions.

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Shannon didn’t particularly resonate with the character much, apart from the very real fear of being an out-of-work actor. “The character, Sondra, is a complete dits but the reason I bring her up is because when I’m in the midst of a project, I kind of become the person that I’m playing,” she explains.

“I think, in this very strange way, every character that crosses my path comes to inevitably teach and open me up to something in myself that might not have presented itself without their influence. Every character comes at exactly the right time – it’s as if acting is its own type of wonderful healing and evolving experience,” she explains.

Closed Off

Shannon goes on to explain that in her world, embracing a character has been much easier than being her true self. Therapy, she acknowledges, helped her realise that she’d been a shutdown human. She cites two events, in particular, that led to her being closed off. Number one: Her love-filled childhood where she never learnt how to process her feelings, nor establish her own boundaries.

“This created a perfectionist mentality in me, something that has troubled me for a large part of my life.”

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The second event was a six-year relationship that she recently got out of. “I didn’t realise the extent of how its trauma had affected me because I grew up with that ‘if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t hurt’ mentality, which created space for me to keep shoving things under the rug.” Right now, Shannon only cares about being real, flawed and engaging in authentic conversations.

Going Forward

Her goal going forward? “…To be as self-aware and present as I can possibly be and, of course, listen to my intuition when something doesn’t feel quite right.”

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