six good acts

“don’t chew your moustache (or anyone else’s)”

that’s part of what robert c. carson call’s the “pleasant person’s act”. in my last post i mentioned his book, taming your gremlin and you may remember how he talked about the discomfort, even pain, that can come from following your self-concept rather than just being yourself.

in the same vein, he also talks about “acts”, or roles, that we habitually play out, with the same dissatisfying results. acting, he says, can be fun and useful, but it gets pretty uncomfortable when our act turns into a habitual way of being and we even forget that we are acting. the act and the self-concept meld.

an act i used to play as a teenager was “the cool hippie”. acting cool was very important to me, and i’d gladly suffer for it, for example, when i smoked cigars or walked barefoot through the snow.

a client of mine, let’s call her francine, used to play the act of “the PTSD victim”. whenever something got even slightly uncomfortable for her, she would explain that because of her post-traumatic stress disorder, she could not do this/go there/wait for that. (i’m happy to report that both francine and i are over these acts! and please don’t get me wrong, PTSD or any other mental health problem are not an act – but defining your self identity through them is not useful).

but as long as we know we’re doing an act, and we’re doing it from choice rather than out of habit or fear, both we and the world around us can get quite a bit of enjoyment out of it.

that’s where the “pleasant person’s act” comes in. that’s when we happily and consciously act as a pleasant person. apart from not chewing anyone’s moustache, here are a few things robert c. carson suggests as part of such an act:

  1. ask questions and marvel at the answers
  2. don’t expect children to act like adults
  3. take responsibility for being clearly understood
  4. give up trying to be something special
  5. don’t be anxious to always verbalize a parallel from your own experience
  6. don’t let your sadness turn you into the kind of grump who is a pain in the ass to be with

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

(i’d like to gratefully acknowledge that this post was included in the AgG carnival)

7 thoughts on “six good acts

  1. Roger von Oech

    Interesting stuff. I think that whenever a person can eliminate excuses — whether it’s in sports, business, or personal growth (Francine removing PTSD as a barrier to action) — not only are they a lot better off, they also have more choices and flexibility.

  2. Pingback: Made to Be Great » Blog Archive » August 6 2007 Edition of the Made to Be Great Personal Development Carnival - Keys to Unlock your Inner Potential

  3. jan

    Sometimes I act like Pollyanna when I feel like the Grinch, but that’s pleasant as you say.

    I’ve here from BV carnival

  4. Janey Loree

    Hi, Isabella! “I am visiting via the Authors go GONZO! Carnival!” While I was getting this post ready for the carnival, act #5 stood out. I am working on not doing this so that I can experience the other persons observations. Thank you for entering this post in the AgGC!!

  5. The Gatekeeper

    Oh, I really like the “Pleasant Person’s Act.” Those are six wonderful “rules” to live by. I shall have to share them with my life group. Nice post. I’m here by way of the AgGC. Have a wonderful and awesome week.

  6. Jackie

    Popped over from the Carnival. Wow sounds like me…lived in an environment that play acting kept me out of trouble. Glad now I am retired I can finally be me.

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