Who is Monkeytraps? Call Them Goofy.

   A guest post by Steve Hauptman

Recently Beth Wilson of B Here Today recommended Monkeytraps to her readers with this comment:

I confess that I haven’t been a regular follower of Steve Hauptman’s work. Until this post: Three rules for recovering from anything.

Normally, this blog is kind of goofy. I like it, but it’s kind of goofy. Steve, who is a therapist who specializes in control issues, co-writes Monkeytraps with Bert, his control-addicted inner monkey. It’s a recipe for goofiness.

This particular post touched me because it addresses the issue of presence as it relates to paying attention to our thoughts, our monkey minds, if you will. Check it out.

It’s always nice to be recommended. But I had a surprisingly strong reaction to Beth’s second paragraph.

I’m 62 now, and have grown used to certain descriptions of myself. Serious usually heads the list. Followed by intense. And, for many years, trailed closely by angry.

And then there’s always right. My wife’s favorite. In fact, I once wrote her a poem summarizing her view of me:

you’re right

you’re right

you’re always right

you’re right all day

you’re right all night

I get so mad

I want to bite

because you’re

always

always

right

Can’t remember what inspired that burst of self-awareness, but it was atypical. During most of our marriage I was too busy being serious, intense or angry.

Never before has anyone called me goofy.

Initially I went back and forth with it.

First I was puzzled. Why that particular word?

So, like any seriously serious person, I looked it up.

goofy. Adjective. (goo-fey.) Ludicrous, foolish.

Then I looked up ludicrous.

ludicrous. Adjective. (loo-du-krus.) Broadly or extravagantly humorous; resembling farce

“Not bad,” I thought. “Humorous is good.” I decided to stop looking shit up.

Then I found myself wondering: what in Monkeytraps might strike someone as goofy?

This answer came more easily. I remembered the photo I used to illustrate various uses of the Bert Mug:

  THE BERT MUG. (Contents not included.)

And some of the Bert cartoons:

 

 

“Wow,” I thought. “I am goofy.”

And, unexpectedly, felt proud.

See, for me the worst part of being a control addict has always been fear of other people. Convinced of my own inadequacy, I expect criticism, rejection and humiliation if I come out of hiding. So I spent decades trying to protect myself by impressing people and concealing what I really thought and felt.

But goofy doesn’t care about any of that.

Goofy isn’t scared to be itself.y doesn’t care about any of that.

Goofy can relax. Goofy can play.

Goofy is free.

 

“If I’ve attained goofiness,” I thought, “I must be getting healthier.”

I decided to celebrate.  How?  Do something goofy, of course.

So I concocted a plan.

It’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.

    I lead a therapy group that meets weekly. Five members. Seriously serious people, all of them.

My plan:

1. Visit the Family Dollar near where I live. Buy each group member a plastic bottle of bubbles. You know, the kind with the wand with the circle at the end.

2. Arrange the bottles on a tray in a circle. In the center of the circle place a dollar bill.

3. Present the tray to the group. Tell them: “Blow the biggest bubble, and the dollar is yours.”

4. Watch what happens.

I’m telling you this as a way of committing to it. I may get cold feet (i.e., relapse into Seriousness) before the next group rolls around.

But I want to go ahead with it anyway. I think it would be good for them. Goofy is therapeutic. For me too.

And I have a reputation to uphold.

* * *

Steve Hauptman is a Gestalt therapist practicing in Mount Sinai, New York. Co-author (with Bert, his inner monkey) of the blog Monkeytraps: A blog about controlhe is also an artist and cartoonist whose work appears regularly there.  He is currently writing a book titled The Illusion of Control.

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