Do the Things with John Mulaney

Thank you for reading this blog cuz you didn’t have to.

Everyone loves John Mulaney because he 1) writes jokes you can laugh at in front of your parents, 2) can be easily imagined as a young boy in a water balloon fight, 3) channels our nostalgia for a time when economic depression seemed like a cute idea, 4) KNOWS WHAT WE’RE THINKING.

Mulaney is a smart dude, by which I mean very sensitive.

Have we talked about this? “Smart” is not really a thing, other than an optimistic interpretation of sensitivity. Sensitivity, you’ll know, comes with pros and cons, which is probably why humans evolved to distribute our sensitivities diversely.

Neurodiversity is our special trick as humans. We don’t have wings. We don’t have venom. We don’t have camouflage. We are, in other words, pretty vulnerable as far as animals go — but as a group? We do ok! Because each of us is extremely clever about different things. Each of us is a wee bit vigilant on some fronts, so that each of us can lil bit relax.

These specialized nervous systems bind our bodies into community. HOLD UP! That means community is not just a wellness buzzword, but an actual meta-selfhood essential to our perceived sense of security.

So what happens when the concept of community migrates into the abstract, i.e., the digital world?

Instead of the body sensing the presence of other familiar bodies around it and relaxing, we settle for this “idea” of others in the form of text messages, tweets, etc. The totality of this information registers to us not as another person, but as an avatar.

Avatars not only bring the body little comfort, they behave in the imagination as any other kind of specter — a psychological menace. An uncomforted (lonely) body can only regard an avatar as an audience or a judge or a standard that we must measure ourselves against.

If this seems confusing it’s because we’re so accustomed to paying lip service to our animal nature without actually internalizing what that means.

Yes, we can make each other feel things through words, and those feelings can be soothing. But! We don’t just want to “talk” with other people. We want to smell other people. We want to recognize their unique pattern of eyebrows inflections to establish their continuity of existence. We want to hear the waves of their voice tickle our eardrums. That is what the body needs to feel safe. Without it, our “minds” may know better, but our bodies may was well be floating through pure empty space.

So then let’s bring it back to John Mulaney’s bit.

If this is true about our need for physical proximity, why is there this apparent epidemic of social avoidance? As always there are a few things going on here, but I’d say it comes back to the sensitivity.

We’re really so much more sensitive than we realize! Some of us (like John, and all other decent comedians and/or alcoholics), are more sensitive than average. If you imagine everyone having an invisible mixing console that controls their attention, his might have 80% of the knobs turned to HIGH where most only have a third at that level. So he’s collecting more information and doing a lot more synthesizing than most people around him. He’s using up energy faster even if he’s not exerting himself physically.

Groomed by the American ideas of productivity, it’s likely a Highly Sensitive Person would develop anxiety about their greater need for rest, which adds a layer of resistance to the very rest they need!

Add to that an awareness that the average human alive right now is overstimulated because our nervous system hasn’t changed since we spent our days silently walking through fields of sheep — I’ve seen 13,000 years put as the most conservative number. So ALL of us need more rest than we’re getting, and probably ALL of us feel bad about it.

In short, we are all exhausted.

We’re exhausted because we’re not used to having to make a thousand choices a day, we’re not used to holding so much mental frizz in our bodies without moving it out through exercise, we’re confused and ashamed that we’re tired because we don’t understand that physical effort is not the only kind of effort that uses up energy, and we’re leaking a LOT of energy as unconscious fear because our bodies feel so viscerally alone and are thus kicking into hyper vigilance or shut down.

Whew!

So the first step here is just to let that sink in and be kinder with ourselves about the challenge we’re facing. Let’s take that intention into a session.

🌈 In the hypnotic state, frame this challenge with positive affirmations:
“[You are/I am] happy to be living in this era and able to budget energy”;
“Rest produces energy. Rest produces energy. Rest produces energy.”
🌈 Then invite the unconscious to identify the
#1 energy booster and the #1 energy user.
🌈 After we have those two points of information, focus on the image of scheduling time with those factors in mind on a certain day of the week.
🌈 In waking consciousness, schedule a week as visualized, referring to the affirmation “Rest produces energy”.

What we’re doing here is creating a rhythm of self-awareness that allows us to make plans we can genuinely look forward to without anxiety. It takes practice, but by embracing the need for rest and anticipating the energetic costs in our life, we become more reliable friends and enjoy the rich comfort of real community.

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