I reached over for the toilet paper. My fingers barely grazed the roll and I KNEW something was up. My mind raced to WHO could have possibly done this to me. WHY? What malice did they intend?
We all have experiences of a vulnerable thing happening at an inopportune time, but what if the truth is that I am just a fool for others to laugh at?
Vulnerability + Inopportune Timing
I do not, generally speaking, appreciate pranks or practical jokes. I do not, generally speaking, engage in delivery of pranks or practical jokes on others in fervent hopes that they will not be done to me.
Growing up, my family worked with fake cockroaches, spiders and other crawly creatures for our practical jokes. I could handle those.
Yes, they always startled me, but it felt accessible and good-natured. It was my family's thing. But, generally speaking, vulnerable things happening at inopportune times is not something I desire.
WHOOPS! It is one thing to accidentally do a thing that turns out to be hilarious, after you get over the initial embarrassment of whatever it is.
One time, I went to lay out my mat towel, for yoga, and I realized a thong was static-stuck to the towel.
YIPES! I was a.) late, so everyone else was already set up and attentively waiting for class to begin,
and b.) I was in the front row, so all those attentive classmates were privy to my thong-towel
THAT WAS EMBARRASSING.
And then I got over it.
Real-life embarrassments are universal: We all have experiences of a vulnerable thing happening at an inopportune time. It is also universal that it instinctively causes us to laugh (at some point), because it is so out of the pattern of what we were expecting. Our laughter reconciles what we were expecting to happen from the discomfort of what really took place. As we allow that release, we make peace with our own humanity and keep going.
Pranks + Practical Jokes
And then there is the set-up of a vulnerable thing happening at an inopportune time, to someone else.
For the purpose of creating laughter.
It’s one thing if to be on the giving end…and quite another to be unintentionally receiving the prank.
It doesn't even matter what the prank is, whether it is getting a puff of flour in your face or getting caught on camera with your pants down.
Because the timing is intentionally when you are in a place of vulnerability (eyes closed, unsuspecting - even trusting, etc), pranks and practical jokes happen to touch a part of us that is terrified we are separate, alone, unaccepted, rejected and unworthy of love. We are terrified that the joke played on us is proof of this truth that we work so hard to avoid, dis-prove and dis-associate from.
At the Heart of It
I'm not suggesting all pranks and practical jokes are evil or bad or should be banished.
I AM, however, inviting us to consider what happens psychologically when they do happen, so that we can find where our power, our authority, lies, and be empowered.
From my own perspective, my sensitivity has historically been towards the question of what the joke means about me, that somehow I AM a joke.
As long as I let that interpretation run free, seemingly confirmed by the prankster laughing at me, I give my authority away to someone else and allow my fear to be true.
When we aren't solid in our own BEINGNESS, we look outside of us for who we are. Part of this is typical human development, as we are nurtured by our primary caregivers and develop healthy attachment and self-identity. As we develop a strong self (complete with self-awareness, self-love, self-compassion, and a growth-mindset) we develop the capacity to live from the authority of our own inner wisdom self. From this self, we are able to negotiate external information to recover alignment within ourselves as break-downs occur.
When we experience break-downs early in life, around normal human needs of nurture, support, healthy attachment, and understanding, the result is an internal fracture in our psyche that is fearful that we actually aren't safe, supported, or loved.
Until that fracture is repaired, it is an open wound that can get touched (or triggered), and suddenly we are letting someone else determine who we are and what we are worth. Instead of allowing natural laughter to reconcile the surprise of what we thought was going to happen with what really happened, we stash the discomfort away as unattended grief.
Be the Authority of Your Own Mind
In the end, it is up to ourselves.
We are no longer babies or toddlers trying to navigate a big, new world.
We no longer need a wise other to cut up our grapes so we don't choke, or remind us to wear long sleeves when the weather is chilly.
We no longer require a wise other to offer caution about how to safely cross a street, or tell us the best way to solve a tricky problem.
We actually have everything we need within us, even the ability to ask for what it is that we need.
But gone are the days when it is thrust onto us, for our survival.
You are the authority of your own mind, your own being.
YOU are self-responsible about how you move your body in the world, what words you say or don't say.
YOU ARE self-responsible to know when you are cold and to make a choice to meet that need.
You are self-responsible to actively choose the thoughts that you embrace or that you release.
It's Up to You
Prank or no prank, regardless of anything another person says or does, you choose what is right and true for you.
Even if someone gives you rip-resistant toilet paper 🧻 or laughs uncontrollably when you get caught with your pants down.
We all have experiences of a vulnerable thing happening at an inopportune time.
The invitation is to notice the feelings and thoughts that arise, the confusing nature of the unexpected, and to choose a self-empowered way to move forward. That choice is the way we release unattended grief and make peace with our own humanity. Being present to this process strengthens our self-confidence and inner knowing.
As you remind yourself of the truth, as you take back authority of your own mind, and know that you are already and always good and worthy, you might even find that a little chuckle might sneak out…perhaps...
Loving you today and always, Rachel
For Reflection + Journaling When has something vulnerable happened to you at an inopportune time? What tenderness do you notice? What has been your relationship with pranks and practical jokes? As giver? As receiver? Listening to your own inner-wisdom, what do you know is true about you?
Rachel Sartori is an Embodiment and Wholeness Coach. She is kick-ass and heart-centered whether she is showing up as a workshop/retreat facilitator, a private coach, a writer or a speaker. Rachel invites you to exercise your soul, and participate in the healing of your own heart and the world around you. With Rachel, all is welcome, all the time.
Read: Exercise Your Soul: Ignite Healing and Wholeness in your Life and Live from the Inside Out