There are so many places that are actually Schools. There are so many messages that are actually lessons — if we are open and willing to be students.
In addition to being a therapist and life coach, I am also a theatrical improviser. I play pretend on stage every other weekend or so, coach a team, and am training to teach improv at a local theatre. It’s a big part of my life, and the longer I practice, the more I see improv lessons as life lessons.
One of the biggies that I want to talk about here falls under the category of relationship building. I don’t talk a lot about interpersonal relationships. I tend to focus on individual growth and transformation, but it’s important to note that, I believe our growth and transformation always happens both internally and within close relationships. We are constantly in contact with other humans. Some of those relationships are just more intimate than others. Improv has a lot to say about how to build a relationship, and one of those keys is something that many of my clients over the years have lacked.
Here it is. It’s a biggy.
Speak your Feels.
Communicate your emotions.
Can improv exist without this key. Well, yes. Sort of. But the scene that you’re watching will turn really plotty or really jokey in short order You’ll see a scene about the weather, and there will be very little depth. You might see something funny, but the scene won’t go very far.
The same is true in relationships – especially those relationships we might consider intimate – whether it’s a marriage or partnership, friendship, or family connection. Think I’m lying? I promise I’m not.
When we don’t communicate from our hearts, or speak our feelings, what do we do? We talk about things. We talk about the weather, the groceries, the fact that the coffee is cold. We talk on the surface, and the relationship never goes deep. How could it?
But here’s the thing, and I think this is true on stage too – Feelings are much scarier than the weather. Why? Because they are ours. Even if we’re in character in a scene, feelings come from inside us. The weather, groceries, and even coffee are shallow, and more importantly, they are external. Where’s the vulnerability in talking about the weather?
And if there’s no vulnerability, then we’re not being Real. We’re not giving our relationship partner anything real to work with.
It’s a dead end scene…Just like the one on stage. Sadly, unlike the scene on stage, which will be blacked out in a few minutes, some relationships go on and on and on, bumping over the same subjects for years.
So! If you want to build your relationship and grow something deeper than a few jokes about the weather, tell your partner what you feel. Get juicy and honest and real with the person standing in front of you. Go ahead and get messy. Could you find yourself facing someone who can’t handle your truth? Yep. You sure could. But here’s the deal. Do you really want to be in an “intimate” relationship with someone who is not willing or able to take in All of you?
**If you are in an abusive or otherwise unsafe relationship where it is dangerous to share your truth, please please please keep yourself safe first, and seek out whatever help you need.