[Newsletter Series (#6)]
Throughout life, we put so many expectations on ourselves - built from other people’ stories and meaning. Our parents, their parents, our culture, our social status, religion.
And at the same time, we pour our own expectations all over everyone else, based on those same stories. How crazy is that? We suffer from pressures to be good and right; to succeed. And then we turn around and throw that toxicity at everyone else. Usually, without even realizing we’re doing it.
What about being true to ourselves, based on who we are and what we need - irrespective of what bar has been set for us by our moms or our bosses or the bully back in high school who said we throw “like a girl.” What if we could practice non-judgment more and rest easy in knowing we’re enough.
I know, I know - this whole concept of “enoughness” is being thrown around like party confetti these days, in every yoga studio and personal growth guide we can get our hands on. But there’s something to it. I mean, we remove the doubt, the second-guessing and judgment - and there’s magic underneath. Just about every single time.
Non-judgment is critical in improv. Can you imagine a scene where this rule was ignored, and players were explicitly critical of one another on stage? They’d be ignoring each other’s offers all over the place, in lieu of pushing their own agenda. There might be eye-rolling and moments of uncomfortable pause; a meandering (and confusing) storyline. And there would most definitely be ticket refunds because literally NO ONE wants to see a show like that.
Or what about a show where the players judged themselves? Dialogue would stall and the plot build would slow to a snail’s pace. The actors would be running every possible scenario by their internal Censor to be sure their next words were right or good or hilarious.
Author and speaker, Rob Bell, said something amazing on his podcast recently that speaks to this. He said, “We rob ourselves of immeasurable joy when we compare what we don’t know about others to what we do know about ourselves.”
BAM! Mic drop please!
It’s so true! When we’re being judgmental, we’re comparing who we are to what we perceive everyone else expects us to be. So we hide, sometimes all our lives, under a personae that checks everyone else’s boxes instead of our own.
Improvisers practice gracious acceptance, vulnerability and making their partner look good. But “practice” is the key word here, because these muscles need strengthening after generations of conditioning. Why do you think we call improv rehearsals, “workouts”?
My challenge this week, if y’all are up for it: Ask your inner Judge to take a seat, and lean into a situation or dialogue you wouldn’t have otherwise had if you were busy worrying. Some suggestions:
Ask questions of your peers vs. sticking to your own agenda; get curious!
Write out a few mantras about how awesome you are and stick ‘em to your office wall
Compliment a stranger (I LOVE this one! You can literally squash their inner Judge in one fell swoop!)
Try something you’ve never done before (one of my improv workshops, perhaps?)
Okay, that’s it for now! Please feel free to share any insights, comments or questions on my website here. I’d love to hear from you!
Next week, we will dive into Embrace Change in the Aliveness concept (below). Until, then...here’s to thriving unscripted!