I used to be a professional stand-up comic, and I LOVED it! It gave me adulation, instant gratification, and for the few fleeting minutes I was on stage, love.
However, since quitting the stage almost 4 years ago, I've only just come to realize why I started my comedy career in the first place.
It's a stereotype that most comics off stage are boring, manic-depressive characters. A lot of them are well balanced happy individuals.
Still, many are flawed. They lack social skills, feeling and the ability to either give or receive love.
For me personally, I’ve never had an issue socializing. But I have had an issue being the center of attention and the joker in the pack - too much and too often!
At the time, I thought I was being as entertaining off stage as I was on it. What I now realize is that I could actually be irritating and I craved love.
Through much introspection and personal development I discovered what drove my need to be funny.
Put simply, it was my parents. They worked hard, long hours. They did their very best for me and I couldn't fault them for their commitment and way the raised me. I love them dearly and always will.
Sadly though, one thing was missing. Quality time just them listening to me. They never really listened to me. They never really tended to my emotional needs, which led to me having a wicked temper!
Because I was never listened to I acted up, and acted out. The acting up part was throwing and smashing things to get attention. The acting out part was doing silly voices, dances and comedy characters, again, to get attention.
One of the biggest learning experiences of my life has been the realization that we all need to listen to our loved ones. And by listen, I mean REALLY listen!
You see, listening happens at three levels. Think of level one as background noise, like your fridge gurgling or your TV playing in the background. We hear it, but we aren't really paying attention to it.
Level two is where we begin to pay attention to the words and what people are actually saying. At level two we don't need to ask people to repeat themselves and we act accordingly, but usually based on only what we THINK we should do, not what we should ACTUALLY do.
Level three is where we not only hear the words, but we hear the emotion and the vibration under those words. We hear the spirit of the person talking, we hear what they are going through at each given moment. Level three is amazingly powerful!
It is here where empathy, compassion and understanding live. It is here where courage, vulnerability and fearlessness also resides.
The one biggest thing I always try to do with my clients is listen. Really listen to them, always! Sometimes that is all they need and want.