I’ve been doing impro for quite some time now, however, I still often get disapproving reactions in my mind when others do something. Here are my reflections - mostly about reactions, handling and this being ok.
I think today is a good day to stop describing the concept of impro in the prelude. Instead here is a link to “Beauty of impro” post.
It is peculiar that beginners in impro worry more about negative reactions coming from other people. However, with time one learns that everyone in the group is very nice and kind. Trust appears. I think that I am close to this state now. I am definitely much less scared of other people reacting badly than I was before.
However, recently I noticed quite a few times that I still get negative reactions in my head when others do something. This piqued my interest. On the one hand I learned not to be scared of other people reacting negatively, but, on the other hand, I still get such reactions myself in my mind.
They can vary a lot. The simplest example is someone making a sub-optimal (in my view) choice when building their scene. I very quickly get a thought like “oh, they could have done X and it would have been so much better”. Another example is when someone does something very unusual or almost controversial (a controversial joke, weird noises, an insult, does not follow the rules of the game). Here I mostly become very conscious of their action and view it negatively for some time.
Obviously, I don’t express my negative reactions during impro. I am grateful that others didn’t do this when I just started doing impro (otherwise this would have quickly killed any desire to learn). Thus, I don’t do this either. However, this is not the main reason why I don’t express. Somehow when I remind myself that this is impro and that I did something similarly crazy, weird or cringey before, the negative feeling goes away on its own pretty quickly. Somehow this works even outside of impro. This reminds me about my recent post “How not to get angry?”. There I observed that reflecting helps to avoid getting angry about something. Perhaps the same mechanism is at play here as well.
At the same time, such reactions seem to be completely out of my control. They just appear in my mind as a response to what I observe. Like “Oh, this is awkward / weird / cringey “. I am wondering why this happens. I speculate that this might be a consequence of one trying not to be weird themselves. You definitely get similar thoughts when you do something weird yourself (like singing when you have no clue how to do it well). Perhaps some part of the brain detects such situations (e.g. to be able to avoid them and in this way to improve one’s position in a prehistoric community). And it looks like by doing impro I learned to turn off (or ignore) such thoughts related towards me. However, I still get them towards others.
Is this bad?
Ok, there are multiple ways to interpret that question, I see a couple options (but the answer to all of the variations is still - no).
First, when you get such thoughts, then you are on the boundary of your comfort zone and something unusual and interesting must be happening. I consider this positive. Imagine all people around you behaving “normally”, such that you never get such thoughts. That would be extremely boring. For everyone. Basically, when you get negative thoughts, you must be in a situation with increased “variance” and “amplitude”. Such situations can lead you to unexpected ideas, which you would not discover yourself. I think this is one of the main parts of impro - experiencing something, which you would not be able to experience on your own. Basically, having a thought “Wow, I couldn’t imagine this developing this way, but now I do enjoy it enormously”.
Second, is the fact that you get these reactions bad by itself? Nope. This is somewhat outside of our control. We’ve been impacted by society, traditions and norms our entire life. As long as you can hold them inside, everything is fine! Just remind yourself that you were doing crazy stuff as well and let it got!
Happy impro with crazy situations but few negative reactions!