New Choice! A Playful Tool that Works to Create ChangeJan 26, 2024
Ever notice how you tend to have a soundtrack playing for your life? The same emotions, same story, same day to day.... and don't get me started on the "I'm bored!" soundtrack.
Today we dive into an amazing tool - a game from the world of Improv Comedy - and apply it to our day to day lives.
The podcast episode (linked here) tells the full story, complete with lots of laughter and "Ding!" of the New Choice Bell.
New Choice is an improv game that I'm applying in real life. Whenever I find myself stuck in a motion, an emotion, a thought, I hear a little bell in the back of my mind and an improv friend shouting, "New Choice!"
That is the signal to try on something different. On stage, I might be in a scene and be walking -- "Ding! New Choice!" and suddenly I'm skydiving. "Ding! New Choice!" (it's so much fun when we do it rapid-fire), then I'm deep sea diving.
On stage, we also do it when characters are sharing their thoughts, their justifications for WHY they do things and for their emotions. Really, you can do it for anything - just try on a few flavor of whatever it is. But I find a particular fun with emotions and New Choice!
On stage I might be a character who says I'm angry - and then suddenly I'm stopped from acting out my anger anymore because I get to make a new choice. I'm... irritated. New Choice! I'm happy.... ok, proceed with the scene. How am I going to behave when this character who was in a scene that was set up to have anger and now.... I'm happy?
The practice really demonstrates the connection between the story we are telling ourselves (our thoughts/beliefs), and the emotions that are generated within. And taking it another step further, it really highlights how those emotions impact the way we act, talk, behave on stage AND in real life.
This brings the practice of the coaching model (aka the cognitive-behavioral triangle of thoughts-feelings-emotions) to real life. This isn't stage-play, my friends. We are living and breathing it every single day.
In the podcast, I speak about how I have had cycles of fear and dread around getting on stage (not wanting to sign up for Stand Up Comedy classes because, well I'm scared to be alone on stage!) as well as everything that needs to be just right to hit record for the podcast.
Well, this morning I made a New Choice! I felt the fear of being on stage in standup and heard the DING! NEW CHOICE! and tried on what it would be like to be excited. It was AMAZING. So much so that I didn't ask, I didn't question it, I felt so amazing that I signed up for class this morning. (not regretting it an hour later...)
I then took that momentum and recorded the podcast (including the video version) in my bed clothes, with bedhead and not enough coffee on board. Why? Because I decided to try feeling BOLD with the recording. I was acting out of boldness. That's a huge new choice compared to the fear of perfectionism, but hey - this morning, it fit and I didn't just make it a theoretical, I brought it all to life.
This is play.
This is practice. It is experimentation.
It is not a gaslighting exercise -- this is not to tell yourself you're NOT feeling an emotion or to question yourself. It's simply sampling. And you can discard any sample that doesn't fit you. Because you are in charge of this scene in your life, my friend.
You see, in improv comedy, we are constantly flexing, changing, trying on new possibilities, and we don't have to save that for the stage. I include examples of my own stuck-ness, and how I used this tool just this morning.
What is possible when you play?
Seriously, let me know what you find as you play New Choice! [email protected]
YouTube version of Episode #106 here.
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