Present Tense

Taming the ‘inner smart ass”

I struggle with my ‘inner smart ass”.  She lives very comfortably in the attic of my psyche and has been known to escape for hours at time, mostly weekdays from 5-9:30 a.m. when I’m on the radio.  She’s snarky and always on the lookout for a cheap shot at some unsuspecting person, who happens to wander into her path.  She will gladly deliver a drive-by beat down and go merrily on her way, leaving me to deal with the guilt and bad feelings she leaves in her wake.   She has no conscience; that’s left to the rest of my personality to deal with and with the help of a good therapist and lots of introspection, I’m making some progress.

Oh, I know that my ‘sense of humor’ is a big, fat defensive mechanism developed at some point in my childhood.  Who knows when, why or how, but it became bigger and nastier, like an aggressive tumor over the years.  It didn’t help to be voted class clown in high school; after that I HAD to be funny.  So, that’s me:  ‘the funny one’.  You may have been ‘the smart one’ or ‘the pretty one’ or ‘the slow one’ or ‘the prissy one’ or ‘the mean one’ or ‘the popular one’, etc.   Here’s the thing: I’ll bet you still are, and it injects itself into your thoughts, behavior and self-image.  I tend to do what’s expected of me as ‘the funny one’.  Sometimes, it can be a lot of pressure and I may find myself saying something that I KNOW will result in pain for me  and whoever gets caught in the blowback from my ‘humor’.

I’m reading a book by a Buddhist nun, named Pema Chodron (oh, I’m a barrel of laughs, alright) and in her book, “Taking the Leap”, she suggests that when you feel yourself falling into those lifelong habits, stop and take 3 breaths.  For me, when I have the desire to say or write a smart ass comment, that is mean and I’ll regret, I must stop and breeeeeaaaaaaathe before I blurt.  Holy crap, is it hard!  I dare you to try it.  Maybe your problem is that you CAN’T SAY NO, for fear that you’ll be perceived as negative or uncooperative or whatever.  You are ‘the helpful one’.  Before you agree to shuttle 16 kids to the movies, when you had other plans (like some ice cream on the couch), stop, take the 3 breaths and THEN give your reply.

Who we might think we are, isn’t necessarily who we always have to be.  Most of us are comfortable in the cocoon we’ve lived in for years and years.  Having said that, I will never lose my sense of humor, but I am trying to lean toward funny and witty, rather than bitchy and mocking.  A little fine-tuning is in order, rather than attempting a wholesale personality transformation. The point is that many of us default into who we and others think we are, or who we have always been and if that is causing pain or angst for you, maybe it’s time to tweak your internal barometer.   BREEEEEAAAAATHE!

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 5 Comments


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