Comedy as tool for transformation in relation to the Jungian shadow….
There is a famous joke. Well, there are many famous jokes. But one of them goes like this:
A man goes into a doctor’s office, weeping and screaming and very distressed. He cries out to his doctor, “Doc, when I do this (raising his arm so that it is parallel to the ground at shoulder height), it hurts like hell!” The doctor replies, “Then, don’t do that!”
I like this joke. Not because it is the most humorous joke of all time, but because it teaches us something important about humor itself. Sometimes, the best answer to a seemingly insurmountable problem is the most obvious and the most light-hearted. I often find myself bound up by some “very important problem” that I am determined to find the solution for with my “very big brain.” Usually, this process leads to great strain and little to no relief. This is not, of course, to say, that my brain is useless or that I should abandon my intelligence. No. Rather, it is to say, if I am dealing with a heavy issue, sometimes the best way through is light.
I once went to my life coach with what was, in truth and fact, a very serious business issue. Once I had laid out the details of the problem with great tension in my voice and desperation in my heart, he got very solemn and closed his eyes. He paused, thinking. Then, eventually, taking his time, he clasped his hands together, and said “Hmmm…. I see…” I was thrilled. Here was going to come some very deep and very useful wisdom from this man I considered a learned and practiced mentor and teacher. “I want you to close your eyes,” he said. I did. “Good. Now, take a deeeeep breath into your low belly…” I did. And just as my gut was reaching it’s maximum capacity, and I was beginning to drop into a deeper state of relaxation, he suddenly STABBED my stomach with his pointer finger and laughed. “Huh Huh Huh,” he chuckled like a big Jewish Santa Claus.
I was not amused. “OW!” I said, like an angry teenage girl.
“Awwww,” he said, “You need to have more fun!”
I immediately “got” the teaching he was giving me. I needed to lighten up and let it go. There is a saying that one of my friends who attends a number of different 12 step fellowships frequently uses when I’m in one of my “I have a really big problem” zones. He says “Remember Rule, 62, Doc. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously!”
Very often, people like us, who are high minded, intelligent and walking a path of self -awareness and self-improvement get very wrapped up in the seriousness of our own development and progress and groooooowth. We all want so badly to evolve into more highly functioning, more successful, more wealthy versions of ourselves, that sometimes it all gets a little… heavy.
Once I got over myself during the stomach poking incident, I joined my coach in a good laugh about my own heavy-handedness. We changed the subject and wound up chatting about the movie “Charlie’s Angels,” of all things. Ten minutes later, we were laughing and joking and having a great time. When I left him and got into my car to drive home, I smiled to myself, thinking about our conversation when suddenly, like a ton of very useful bricks, the answer to my problem hit me in the face. BAM. It just CAME to me like THAT! In an instant! An instant during which I was laughing about something ridiculous. There was something about being in a state of openness, joy and receptivity, that put my brain in a place that allowed the answer to come to ME, rather than my having to search for and uncover IT. Attacking the problem with a list of solutions never would have gotten me there as quickly or, frankly, with as much pleasure.
So, if you’re up against the wall with a tough situation, maybe you need a trip to The Comedy Store, rather than another to-do list.
Good luck, Grasshopper. Take it easy.
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