Humor is the most useful tool in your bag of tricks when it comes to paradigm shifting. It allows for the shift to be non-threatening. It has the same energy as an epiphany but less drama.
Humor creates a conduit for the perception to be seen and released simultaneously. This is especially true if you are attempting to assist someone, or yourself, in seeing an over-reaction. Humor can help you see silliness in your thinking or behaving, without negative judgment.
I use humor all the time to shift energy. It is the perfect response when I want to lighten a situation that is getting too serious. The seriousness can create a block to the needed shift. It’s really helpful with children when you want to side-step a negative interaction that is steamrolling down a course to opposition and a flat-out stalemate. Using humor can result in an instantaneous shift in energy, especially if you choose just the right maneuver.
Laughing at ourselves when we need to lighten up is an important part of de-stressing, and it helps us get into a mindful state; it’s like a mini-paradigm shift into the humorous nature of events, that opens the doorway into real insight and epiphany.
The mindfulness component to humor is especially evident when used to deal with resistance. Resistance can look like a NO or just a distraction; it can be really strong and obvious or just dawdling and delaying. All of these actions can be a form of resistance and can interfere with the smooth flow of events. Often resistance is actually a cover for something else that is underlying the situation. This could be a way of dealing with unwanted pressure, or expectation, or structure that feels stifling, like our time schedules or an event we are required to attend. By bringing humor into the equation you can uncover the cause of the resistance without getting into a power struggle with your child or the other person. If it is your own resistance with which you are dealing than humor makes it more tolerable to look at yourself and your actions.
Humor lightens. It makes the change feel less heavy or more obvious and it allows the shift to be embraced without negativity. Lightening both the weighty-ness of making choices, decisions, and change as well as lightening with respect to increasing the degree of mirth, spirit, and luminosity involved in living and evaluating.
When my daughter was just working on moving from pre-team to team in gymnastics her energy changed. Rather than being relaxed, attentive, self-confident, and strong, her intensity shifted; she started to be a little uptight and anxious about who was going to move up and where she was in the line-up of her peers in skill and talent. She began to get discouraged and this affected her capacity to do the work. She tried harder but it had the effect of making her too conscious so that she was pushing rather than allowing her skill to shine through. It resulted in her getting stuck.
I tried having a serious, mindful discussion about how her attitude was getting in the way, but she became adamant that she just couldn’t do it; “I can’t” she said. I calmly and lovingly talked with her about how she needed to say “I can” because her words had power. She said they only had power in one way if she said I can’t then she couldn’t but when she said I can it didn’t change the outcome. She was trying to tell me how discouraged she was, but I wasn’t listening with my third ear (my inner mindfulness and attention), I just kept on with my efforts to shift her perspective, describing how the “I can” made it a neutral space so her mind/body could work together to go through the motion of the skill with ease that she had been practicing. I was talking to her rather than listening to her and responding, even though I thought I was being reasonable my efforts helped to create a block and she dug in her heels because she felt unheard and invalidated. The more I tried to be calm, and mindful, and clarifying the more adamant, angry, and resistant she became, until we were at a block, a NO, a lost opportunity for learning.
Then I decided to explain how it worked by acting as her confused muscle that she was sending two messages to, one message of I want to do it, and the other message of I can’t. The result was a jerkiness that depicted her muscle trying to respond to both an action of follow through on the skill and an action of miss the skill. When there are two opposing messages the wires get crossed and there isn’t any clarity about what action to take. The inner confusion would assuredly result in a mis-step and diluted action/skill. As I was describing this, in simpler terms, I acted it out, with silly facial gestures and a crazy looking jerkiness of my arm. It was so silly she spontaneously laughed out loud; I looked so silly that her first most natural reaction was to laugh and that broke up the energy so that she could both feel heard and listen to my explanation.
Through the use of humor, the words got in, then she had an opportunity to integrate the concepts. The humorous picture also became a visual mantra/or visual imprint she could use to re-focus herself in the future, so that she could find her own neutral place and shift the energy when she felt discouraged.
It lightened everything. It allowed for a paradigm shift, and it was a strong image that was beneficial in the future. The next practice she moved with ease and self-confidence, she got her skill; and in her being was the memory of how funny her mom looked and the information behind the humorous action connected to it that you have to give one clear message and allow you natural ease to flow through.
So mindfulness needs a little mirth sometimes to get the job done.
Humor is a little tricky, it can really backfire when used incorrectly or at the wrong time. This is especially true with certain ages that have a hypersensitivity to being laughed at. In these circumstances it’s most useful to allow yourself to be the canvas or conduit for looking silly, allowing your child to laugh at you and through that, to see their own silliness, on their own and in their own time. If you make the connection too quickly and they are not ready then you may find that you worsen the situation.
It takes a feel to know when to use humor and how, that ability to listen with your third (inner paying mindful attention) ear, in conjunction with knowing your child and what actions are covered messages. When used efficiently humor is the most effective tool in your toolbox for shifting paradigms and getting to aha experiences.
Next time you feel your blood pressure beginning to rise, or you feel stuck in your interactions, apply a funny, humorous face to the situation. See if you can create your own paradigm shift with humor. The lightening up of the situation goes far to instill the needed information, and it does so with fun, ease, and efficiency.
See you tomorrow.