9/12/19: That Isn't Funny
The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com
Sometimes, you just have to accept that some people are shitty and stop looking for the Tootsie-roll center.
Hi! I’m Coach MK and This is The Morning Mantra.
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Today’s mantra is: That Isn’t Funny.
I firmly believe that a sense of humor is an essential survival skill. I like to think that mine is fairly well-developed: at least, it’s well-developed enough that people are surprised to hear how serious I can be on my podcasts. I’ve seen some shit, you guys. I had a terrible childhood. I felt worthless and less-than for MOST of my life. MOST OF IT. Laughter and distraction were coping skills that kept me alive until I was ready and able to do the real life-changing work of breaking the cycle of generational trauma bestowed upon me, recognizing my actions, my triggers, my responses, and owning my choices. My trauma was not my fault, but my healing is my responsibility. It’s hard, ugly work and it’s entirely on ME to do. NO one can help shoulder that load, the best anyone can do is cheerlead, support, and love me while I struggle under the weight of a giant, invisible load. I cannot tell you how many times I have said, “If I can’t laugh at this, I may never stop crying.” and I meant it.
I can’t tell you how many times I went along with the joke, even when I was, in fact, the butt of the joke. Because if I don’t laugh along, then I don’t have a sense of humor or I lack self-awareness. Do I strike you as either? How is saying, “that thing you just said wasn’t funny, in fact it hurt my feelings” able to nullify all of my other words and actions? Why do I have to defend myself after taking a hit, why doesn’t the other person feel the need to apologize? And why do people tell me privately later that they admired me instead of speaking up for me publicly in that moment? I just took a hit, pretended it didn’t hurt- that’s a lot of work. Why am I responsible for making you feel better, too???
If this pattern sounds familiar, I feel you. I hear you. And I see you. You laugh along for the same reason I always did- if I stood up for myself, I wouldn’t have had any support. I would stand alone. Somehow, it’s more comforting to laugh in a group, even if the group is laughing at you and the joke is just mean. We’ve been conditioned to appease bullies, this is the source of thier power, the false assumption that if you act unbothered they will just move on to someone else? How about if we had each others’ backs when someone punched down?
What we have only started to discuss though, is how laughter is a luxury. And luxuries are afforded by privilege. Some folks manage burdens so large laughter requires more energy than they have. Some situations are so ugly, so inescapable, so incredibly layered and unfair that sources laugher cannot be found; not-crying is a win. Getting out of bed, is a win. Staying alive one more day beneath this immovable burden, is a win.
One night, walking home from my job in the White House, alone, I realized how alone I actually was, how otherized I had become, how alone I would continue to be no matter what I did. That’s when something inside me broke. That’s when I decided to stop holding back, to start REALLY speaking my mind. This is a luxury afforded to me by privilege, and I have a lot. This is what it is for. When someone with less privilege than I have says, “hey, that’s not funny,” I can stand with them. I can normalize good behaviour by DOING it publicly and consistently. I can make people see when they are punching down, when their privilege affords them the luxury of laughter, and even if I can’t change the entire conversation, I can end it temporarily. I can make someone feel less alone, if even for a moment. It only takes a moment to change a life, to change a mind, and change begins with me.
SO, the mantra: when you are faced with injustice, when someone says something mean, when a joke isn’t funny and you realize someone is hurt- STOP. Hear MY VOICE in the back of your head supporting you as you say, “THAT ISN”T FUNNY”. Then let that inner voice OUT. If we start doing this now, if we normalize calling out bullies and seeing privilege now, your kids may not need as much therapy as I did. The good humans in this world will support them.
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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!