(This article got started independently of today’s Daily Prompt but it fits nicely with the theme.)
This morning, as I was talking to my Mind Technician (that is how he likes to think of himself), he said something that made me sit back and go:
We were discussing my established patterns of thinking negatively. In the cognitive behavioural therapy, there is a thing called “cognitive distortions.” These are perverted cognitive processes that negatively distort the thinking. There are 10 of those buggers though my “go to favourites” seem to be Overgeneralisation (viewing a negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat) and Emotional Reasoning (assuming that negative emotions necessarily reflect the reality: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”). So basically whenever something bad or negative happens, I start cursing and putting down myself for all sorts of things. In fact, I sometimes manage to do this when something positive happens if I find that I did not do well enough. So the doc suggested that I do not automatically trust my thinking since it seems to be so negatively predisposed against myself.
That set off a minor inner explosion. This is precisely what has been plaguing my improv performances. I need to stop thinking or relying on my ideas for scenes because my thinking has been damaged by years of self-neglect and self-hate. And nobody wants to see that on stage! So for the next while what I need to do instead is go in with an emotional choice rather than a cognitive one. Maybe even pair it with a statement (e.g., “Oranges are awesome!”) and figure out the rest along the way and trust my scene partners to support me. (Improvisation – what a concept!) There is nothing inherently wrong with making a cognitive choice for a scene (e.g., “Three rabbits are discussing forest gossip”) but, for the moment, it is not the right way for me. Thinking triggers more thinking and in my case it is all negative.
In my recent post on getting back into improv, I have discussed getting bogged down in my mind and forgetting one of the cardinal rules of improv: play and have fun. I need to get back to being playful and emotional. Also, in my case, I should probably stick to positive emotions for awhile. Not too long ago, Joe Friedman (thetalkingtherapist) commented on my post Being Funny saying that I might not be funny for awhile but that I might get deeper. Let us hope so. The reason audiences care about the characters on stage is because they connect with them. If I manage to become more emotionally moving on stage, that can only improve the overall experience for the spectators and for myself and maybe help me discover more of my true self through that experience.
For the first time in quite some time, there is actually something to look forward to in my life.