Tip of the Week: Self Amusement


Written by DJ Fuji         Topics: General

This week’s Tip of the Week is a special request from blog reader Frozen Flame who wants more information and actual examples of the “self-amusement” concept.

But before we get too deep into it, let’s first back up and actually make sure we understand the idea. Self-amusement is something I believe I first heard about from the esteemed Tyler Durden of Real Social Dynamics, one of the most well-respected men in this industry and someone who had a huge impact on my own development, both as a practitioner and as a coach.

Although I’m sure the concept had been around forever, Tyler was the first to initially codify it for me.

The basic premise is this:

“Dancing monkey” syndrome occurs when people you’re talking to realize that the value or entertainment you’re providing (humor, being interesting, etc.) is coming from a place of validation or acceptance-seeking. In other words, you’re not doing things because you genuinely enjoy the experience or enjoy connecting with others — you’re doing these things to impress people; you’re doing things to make people like you. This means that even if you’re saying or doing the right things, if the mindset in which it’s coming from is flawed, you will still communicate low value (read: unattractive) behavior.

The solution to Dancing Monkey Syndrome is to “be Self-Amusing.” In other words, don’t do things because you want people to like you or you want their acceptance. Do things because you want to do them. Because it makes you laugh. Because you like doing it. Because it amuses you first.

Now of course, that doesn’t mean you go around like a sadist and put people down and make them feel bad to amuse yourself. (Although if that’s your first thought, you have bigger issues than just pickup.) But what it does mean is that your mindset must be in the correct place or nothing you say will “work.”

[quote]Have you ever seen someone who says all the right things but no one trusts him or her? Have you ever run into someone who is always polite but creeps everyone out?

Those are all prime examples of someone who said the right things but didn’t have the right mindset. Mindsets are some of the most powerful tools we have in communication and social interactions. They can shape our beliefs, change the way we see and interpret the world, and alter the way people feel around us.

In the case of self-amusement, the mindsets should be things like:

“I enjoy interacting with people.”

“People enjoy my company.”

“I’m having fun amusing myself here.”

Your mindsets should NOT be anything like:

“I need them to accept me.”

“I’m unattractive but these lines will make them like me.”

“I need these people to validate me.”

Now that we understand Self-Amusement, let’s look at some examples of things I personally use that exemplify the concept. Note that while these things can demonstrate and teach you the correct mindset, you should still be focusing on the mindset that creates them more than the words and mechanics of the tactic.

Let’s begin:

  • In mid-sentence I’ll interrupt myself, point at her shirt, and say, “what is that? I think you spilled something.” When she looks down, yup, you guessed it — she gets a finger flick to the nose. Ladies and Gents, 2nd grade is now in session… again.
  • Try to convince her of things that are blatantly untrue. Telling her I’m half black. That my hair is really a wig. That I’m really from Kenya. And that I ran to the club in my bare feet. You get the idea. I do most of this with a semi-straight face, as if I’m really trying to convince her of my bullshit.
  • Shake hands. Scratch your nose right after. Sniff. Smell your hand like you just noticed something. Comment to her, “your hands… they smell like onions.” She’ll smell her palms. *whack*. You hit the back of her palm and she hits herself in the face. Laugh. 🙂 (Credit for this variation goes to one of my students though I can’t remember who. If you’re reading this, email me and remind me.)
  • If she ever yawns open-mouthed, put your finger in her open mouth. Unless she’s very comfortable with you, it will cut her yawn short, resulting in a very uncomfortable “my-sneeze-just-died” feeling. Laugh.

These are obviously only the tip of the iceberg. Again, the idea is that you live in your own reality and you amuse yourself and aren’t trying to “get something” from them. You don’t reek of an agenda. You don’t need anything from them. You don’t say funny or interesting things to get them to like you. Everything is done because you want to do it.

Hope this helps clear some things up. Leave questions, criticisms, comments, death threats, etc., in the comments below..

Posted on April 20, 2010