I took my first improv class this weekend!
For those of you who are actors, this may not seem like a big deal.
However, for me, it was incredibly scary for a few reasons.
First, as a kid, my mother told me it wasn't ladylike to laugh too loudly.
Instead, she believed in delicate, ladylike, hands covering mouth, stereotypical Asian female laughing. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the GIF below, where the guys are all laughing out loud, and the girl covers her mouth, while laughing...
Even as a kid, deep down in my gut, I didn't believe that was the "right" way, so I would still laugh super loudly. I still have a loud lough, and I love to laugh.
Humor/Levity is one of my Core Values, and yet, I haven't been in alignment with it until recently. Instead, I've hidden that side of myself to most people, to appear like I know what I'm talking about. Instead of that making me feel more in control, though, it's made me feel icky, inauthentic and out of alignment.
I believe laughter is the best medicine. I love people who can make me laugh, just like Audrey Hepburn...
Also, as an Asian American female, I've been taught to be "quieter," and to speak only when I'm being called on, so I've learned to supress my own voice, except when I 100% know I'm right...meaning if I was in a class...I had to have the right answers or I wouldn't raise my hand or speak up...ever.
But I'm now done with that.
(Cue the applause 👏 👏 👏 !!! Celebrate with me 🎉 !!! )
I'm freeing myself from the constraints!!!
And my first step was to take an Improv class. It taught me a lot!
The foundations of it are very similar to coaching and good as life lessons.
It's not specific to money, but as I've said before, our financial life mirrors our emotional life.
So, here's what I learned:
1. Be open. Life throws a lot of stuff at us, and if we're open to the experience, we may just enjoy it, even if it scares the crap out of us. I was definitely nervous starting out. My hands were really sweaty when class started, and my stomach was in knots. But I jumped in, volunteered to go first (that's usually never me...I'm the one that watches others and decides how I want to do it...and sometimes it takes me a whole class before I raise my hand). And you know what? I actually found it to be fun and not so scary once I decided to just allow myself to be open to the process and to not judge myself for not getting it "right."
2. Be present. If you're not present, you'll miss subtle facial expressions or intonations in someone's voice that gives you clues as to how to respond next. If you're just thinking of what you want to say next, you're not a good partner to elevate, create and build upon the back and forth exchange. This is just a great lesson for any relationship.
3. Really listen. The instructor says this is actually the most important part of improv. This is also a great lesson for any relationship. In coaching, we call it "active listening," where you're being in compassion with someone and listening to what they're really saying. For example, if I say "I'm so excited and proud of myself for taking an Improv class," you could say "Oh good for you! That's awesome!" or you can take it even deeper, and say "That's awesome! I really celebrate with you, and tell me more about how taking this Improv class made you so proud of yourself?" This takes it to the next level of the conversation, where I can share a story of how my mom would tell me to not laugh so loud or to cover up my mouth and just lightly laugh, "tee hee hee..." which always made me laugh out loud even more!
4. "Yes...and..." Most of us have heard of this expression in Improv, and yet, the instructor says sometimes what we do is "Yes....anyway..." In the first example above, where someone responds to me saying "I'm so excited and proud of myself for taking an Improv class," and the other person responds with, "Oh good for you! That's awesome!" is more of the "Yes, anyway...." The second example would be more of the "Yes and" scenario. In life, let's look for more ways to say YES AND...rather than No or No But because that's just coming from fear. In the example above, the "No..but..." would be... "Oh wow! I could never do Improv"....and then go into your story of why it wouldn't work for you. Or it would be "Why would you want to do that? You already seem confident." Or "How much was the class? Was it a lot of money? I can't afford classes..." I believe creativity can be and should be a collaborative process, and it's so exciting when we can build upon each others' ideas rather than always look for what's not working. I also believe that the "Yes...and..." approach is a great way to negotiate! No matter what the other person says, you're agreeing with them and adding something to take the conversation deeper.
5. Put your emotions and whole body into it! In improv, it's more believable when your emotions and your body matches what you're saying. In life, our body doesn't lie to us. If there are stuck emotions, your body will feel it first, so really explore what your body is telling you, when it comes to making decisions, even financial ones! Just last week in the Financial Freedom for Creatives Club brought up a decision she was making, where she wanted to stop paying for something because a bigger, unexpected expense popped up, I asked her to close her eyes and check in with her body. Then I asked her about making enough to cover both expenses, and she only had to check in for a split second before opening her eyes and saying she could absolutely cover both expenses! The mind is the worrier. The body tells you the truth.
If you've done Improv for awhile, will you let me know what lessons you've had, while doing it? And do you think I should keep taking classes, even if I don't want to be an Improv-er or a comedian? Put it in the comments below.