Clown Empathy: How long to keep an open mind

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I recently paid a few thousand dollars to spend a month in a special program where the point is to have my peers tell me how wrong I am. I am through week one and I am having a GREAT time! I have been so wrong so many times and now it’s getting easier and easier to see it for myself.

Like when I made my boyfriend be my designated driver last Friday and he had one too many. I stormed off in my heels walking home on an injured leg feeling totally abandoned, victimized and self-righteous (high as a kite on toxic emotions).

The way he framed the situation was: oops, let’s hang out at our favorite local bar with friends for another hour or two while I drink water. I saw it as a complete betrayal of our relationship and I ask so little from him why can’t he meet this one request and he’s always doing shit like this and I’m going to have to put up with shit like this forever so maybe we should break up and my feet sure hurt and why is the world swerving I’m really smart and my boobs look amazing in this push-up bra he should be nicer to me.

After a good heart-to-heart the next morning, I can accept that there’s like an 80% chance I was wrong. More like 77% but I’ll round up because I’m an amazing and generous partner.

The Assignment

In reality, no one tells me I’m wrong in this program. They are lovely and compassionate and push me to push myself.

This rant is a reflection on our latest project, which was about decision-making. Part of the process was to reflect clinically on a decision, as if you were a consultant and devoid of emotion. You may as well have cut me off in traffic without using your turn signal and not provided me with a courtesy wave. F*CK YOU! Not that I’m attached to the outcome or anything. I’m totally Zen. Like there’s an 80% chance I’m totally Zen.

After last Friday’s debacle, I did it the way I was told because there’s 100% chance that I have room to grow. It triggered the sh*t out of my clown issues.

My Clown Issues

A couple of boyfriends ago I dated a guy who was really into the Oregon Country Fair. Everyone should push their boundaries and go at least once.* He worked with a group that dressed up in different themed costumes five times a day and went out and participated in a parade and interacted with the crowd.

I spent three years trying to get comfortable doing this. I thought it was my worldview or frame or prejudice or something yet undiscovered that had me not flowing in the moment. Finally, after three years, I realized that I loved and respected these people and the emotional response they created in others. I was honored to be a part of their world for the time I was there. I could do it. I could be good at it. I continued to dislike it.

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I realized I was not one of these people. I would never feel comfortable doing this because it is not who I am. I gave myself permission to not like being a clown, provided I accepted that being a clown had value and it was heaven for others.

Back to the Assignment

I read the feedback to my assignment and no one told me it was boring and clinical except for my beloved @sylviasalazar who expertly did so while giving me permission to do so.

Beautiful people challenged me to explore being completely non-emotional. I did it. I continue to dislike it. I rejoiced when one of my colleagues expressed the same sentiments.

For the moment, I have decided that decisions without emotions are clowns at the Country Fair. Nothing wrong with them, they’re just not for me.

That being said, I’ll vow to never shut the door completely. Sometimes you’re right. Conversely, sometimes you haven’t evolved enough to be able to let the other option in.

Frankly, I think the latter is true for me based solely on the lightly suppressed shame I feel about the moderately suppressed feelings of self-righteousness about the completely repressed fact that I’m wrong.

No one promised enlightenment this lifetime.

*Required is to go to The Ritz and sauna/shower naked while listening to a band play while naked while a ton of naked people dance. I’m not a naked person but trust me, do this.

Productivity/mastermind nerd, coach in Seth Godin’s Akimbo community, inbound digital marketer, former mental health professional, Hasher & Airbnb owner.

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