Welcome to this week’s Life Tools on The Source!
As a child, because I felt I did not have a voice at home or receive the attention I craved, I cultivated a Winning Formula based on being funny. I realized early on that people respond to humor, and that if I injected comedy into a given moment, I would receive the attention I felt I would not otherwise receive. My Winning Formula began as the occasional joker, then the class clown, and evolved into being the person who always had a quip ready. As I grew up, I developed an affable nature and reinforced it with my winning formula, which fueled my leadership skills in school.
Even when I was awarded the National Merit Scholarship for Academic Excellence, at my acceptance ceremony, the dean asked, “Do you have a joke to tell us?” All this reinforced my commitment to my winning formula. And the trend continued.
Success unfolded for me in the world of business, as I leveraged my winning formula of humor, adding a lightheartedness to each moment that balanced the more serious, heaviness of my stereotypical type A, Taurus, New York style. It guaranteed that I could always get a word into any conversation, that people would listen to me, and most likely enjoy my company. But I never felt as if they were really <em>listening; </em>they were hearing only the joke.
My humorous persona came to define me, and my contact lenses were so tightly stuck to my eyes, I had no other way to validate my existence than through other people’s laughter. It was the only way I could guarantee that I’d received the attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance of the world around me. That’s why I had originally planted that initial seed of my winning formula so many years before. I was just so desperately afraid to risk being liked or loved for just being me.
I had become a master at my winning formula, and it colored everything I thought, said, and did. It was the contact lens I saw the world through—so close, that I didn’t even realize it was there. I had conditioned myself—or to use don Miguel’s phrase, I had “domesticated” myself. Essentially, I had tamed myself to <em>always respond with humor ultimately crafting my persona</em>. But what did it cost me? It cost me my heart, my authenticity, my vulnerability. It cost me intimacy. It cost me the fact that my true voice had never been heard – because I had never trusted that it would be enough.
I rationalized in my mind that since I made so many people laugh, smile, or feel good over the course of the day, that it more than offset my more unattractive behaviors. But, deep down, I felt brokenhearted, isolated, and afraid to express my most authentic self. Over time I realized that I had built a barrier to receiving love in my heart; I had dumbed down my ability to authentically flow it back out into the world; and I was missing the true depth of connection.
I’ve never publicly spoken or written so candidly about my past, or the steps I took to REbirth myself. And, I go into even more detail in my book <a href=”https://davidji.com/sacredpowers/”><em>Sacred Powers</em></a>. But I feel that you’ll better grasp this process once you know the rawness of the pain that I’ve moved through. Hopefully, my vulnerability will help you go deeper into your own journey of REbirth.