Are you comfortable in your own skin or do you feel more like a circus monkey?
Guest Post by Ryan Hall
“I’m the dude, playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!” – Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) – Tropic Thunder (I mean, did I even have to identify THAT movie?)
I’m tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – I’m tired. I can barely hold my eyes open.
I’m so tired, that my thoughts need a nap!
That’s tired, y’all.
The more I think of it – and God knows I think about it a lot – I think I understand why I’m so tired.
As I have shared before, my parents were both addicts. They were beautiful people when they were sober. But much of my self-loathing and self-hatred were learned behaviors straight from them.
All I’m saying is that they could hate themselves on a pretty deep level.
My parents were beautiful people with deeply damaged and hurting souls.
Part of the Adult Children of Alcoholics literature is what’s called the Laundry List. It’s a list of 14 common traits that most ACOA share in some form or fashion.
Here’s #12 on that list:
“We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.”
Think about it, when you find someone in your life who gives a damn about you, you want to hang onto them by any means necessary.
Sometimes you keep those relationships together by spit, duct tape, bailing wire, a wing, and a prayer.
And when I say “when you” I mean “when I.” I mean, this is me we’re talking about here.
All kidding aside, it’s a sign of self-hatred. Again, learned behavior.
When I get into a self-hating spiral, I can’t see myself as being enough to attract great people into my life. I can’t see simply being myself as ever being enough.
And when I start seeing myself as not enough for the great people I want to attract, I really want to be right about this. And I get really righteous about it!
Because, again, learned behaviors from childhood.
Ergo, I have to keep performing. I have to keep up the facade.
I lose all ability to be myself.
Instead of being the easy-going, laid-back, grounded, brilliant guy that I am, I turn into a circus monkey performing for your entertainment. This shows up as self-deprecating jokes, quickened speech (with plenty of stuttering), and more self-doubt than you can shake a bucket of drumsticks at.
Granted, I don’t think drumsticks come in buckets, but I digress.
When you see this side of me come out, it means I’m scared. I’m running from my truth. And I’m feeling like I can’t get what I want without putting on some kind of act.
I fall into the Lazarus Paradox.
You know, I’m the dude, playing the dude…
I have been experiencing a beautiful shift in this area of my life lately. I’m attracting amazing new people simply by being myself. And I’m holding onto others just by showing up and being real.
I’m not as tired. I feel energized! And I’m pumped for what’s next.
It’s the basic principle of the law of attraction on display: like attracts like.
In other words, if you want to attract light into your life, be light for other people.
I share the piece about the ACOA laundry list because that’s where I learned this. But it’s not exclusive to ACOA.
Let’s consider one of my favorite analogies that I’ve used before. (For clarity, I have chosen to write this from my perspective, using the pronoun “she” rather than he/she. Just imagine yourself in the story, however it may fit you.)
You’re at a party for a friend of yours. You don’t know many people there, but you do know a few.
You look across the room and you see a vision from your dreams. Instead of refilling her cheese tray, she should have been modeling cars on The Price is Right. I mean, this is a vision from a 1980’s music video.
You want to talk to her. I mean, you REALLY want to talk to her.
In this situation, I see two possible choices.
- You can overthink things, stay in your head, and never say a word to her.
- You can calmly walk up to her, shake her hand, and say three simple words: “Hi, I’m Ryan…”
Or Joe, or Bubba, or Steve, or whoever…
In scenario two, are you nervous approaching her? Chances are, you probably are.
But you get out of your head and you talk to her.
If you’re in scenario one, you’ll probably be tossing and turning at 2am regretting your life choices.
I have lived in scenario one more than I care to admit.
If you find yourself falling into the Lazarus Paradox (I swear this is a thing), I’ve got four simple practices you can take on to get yourself out.
Before I go into these practices, a little bit of unsolicited advice: awareness is more than half the battle. Simple awareness is a cool conversation to have. But without action, you’ll stay stuck. You’ll stay righteous. And you won’t get out of first gear.
1| Notice how you’re breathing
If you find yourself taking shallow and quick breaths, that’s a sure sign that you’re trying too hard. And when you try too hard, that’s when you fall into the circus monkey trap.
2| Notice how you’re speaking
If you’re speaking quickly, stuttering, and feel like you’re not really making sense, you’re probably trying too hard. Slow down, speak from your diaphragm, and you can put down the circus monkey act.
3| Watch the jokes
Guys, when you’re making self-deprecating and mean-spirited jokes about yourself because you want to impress, there’s when you’re in circus monkey territory.
But more than anything, what you need to do is:
4| Take your foot off the gas
Sometimes you may find you’re really working hard. You want the girl, the new job, the new client, etc. And you’d be willing to do anything to make it happen. Take your foot off the gas and you’ll go faster. (Remember my NASCAR analogy from a few weeks ago?)
Trust that you’re the brilliant, educated, powerful, amazing, beautiful, adjective filled human being that you know you are. The people who want to be with you and spend time with you will spend time with you because you are all the adjectives.
Put the circus monkey back in the box, and you’ll be just fine.
Are you looking to attract more real and powerful people into your life? This is one of my specialties as a coach. And, y’know, as a man.
Hire a coach! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can explore the possibilities of coaching together. And we can set up a free sample session.
If y’all remember from Tropic Thunder, Lazarus finally snapped. He snapped and got tired of being the dude, playing the dude.
He grew tired of being a circus monkey.
But…if you remember, he wasn’t the character who won a major award from his performance in the film within a film.
My point: authenticity…become a fan.
- Episode 5 of the Be a King podcast is live on iTunes and Google Play. Our guest is sportscaster/motivational speaker Rachel Baribeau. Rachel uses her national platform and her voice to change the narrative in some of the biggest college sports programs around. It’s an inspiring conversation with an inspiring woman and I am honored to share it with you.
Article first appeared in The Good Men Project, republished with permission.
About Ryan Hall
Photo by sk