Sunday, January 2, 2011

To laugh at oneself

Being able to laugh at oneself is a sign of strength. I enjoy laughing, and making people laugh, but laughing at behavior that causes me to embarrass or anger myself is not exactly forthcoming.

Being able to laugh about your actions is also a sign of personal leniency. If I am unable to laugh at mistakes I've made, most likely it is because I am reprimanding myself for not living up to the standards of how I 'should' have behaved, or what was the 'correct' action.

And ultimately, being able to laugh at yourself means you will, in all things, bring more laughter into your life.

There's a sense of relief when you can laugh at something you've done, that you feel upset or ashamed about. Letting yourself off the hook, fully understanding where you went wrong and allowing it to pass with the intentions that you will try to avoid falling into that trap again is what laughter at yourself is intended to do.

'Letting go' is a skill that everyone should be constantly cultivating. I've experienced so much freedom, even in these past months of trying to understand myself better and bring forth more personal expression, by being able to let go of things. When I recognize a pattern of behavior that I've held onto with an iron grip my whole life, and I choose to let it go, I've been shocked by how easily it falls away. When I admit that something isn't working and let it go even though I may not know what will take its place, something settles comfortably into the space that I've struggled so hard not to leave wide open.

Creating space is frightening. It leaves you vulnerable and you may not know what will fill it - or when. Once space is created, however, I've been amazed to see that this space is exactly what I've been needing, more than solutions and immediate answers.

If nothing else, create space so you can sit in it, look at yourself, and laugh. Once I've admitted to everything I've been defensively trying to ignore, that's when I've been able to see it doesn't define me. Only the choice to defend with our life those things that we don't want to hold on to is what defines us. When we take responsibility, let go, and choose a new direction, we are that new direction, not the past.

Humans are so strange and convoluted sometimes. Allowing our failures to haunt us has become some crazy survival mechanism. People justify keeping these memories around so they remember without a shadow of a doubt what not to do, but it's actually not beneficial or necessary. If we've already done something and know it wasn't working, when we try something new we will instinctively go for a different approach. Whether or not habitual elements return to our processes, ultimately we will be moving forward in a new direction and towards a new way of being.

That is, only if we've understood our first approach well enough to laugh about it.

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