I am an extremely sarcastic person. I developed this habit in middle school partly as a defense mechanism and partly because it got laughs. Girls can be quite mean while growing up and becoming sarcastic was my way of being mean with the added benefit of saying I was “just joking.” I was also the youngest of five children and sarcasm was a great way to battle being picked on.
Now in my adulthood, as a manager of people in a service business, I am experiencing a reckoning with my sarcasm. The other night I was ribbing a client for offering too much feedback at the end of my class. This client is a regular and we have a long history of her offering input on everything from the lobby layout to which poses I should teach. I wouldn’t tease all clients in this way because I know not everyone will take my words as being good-natured. So then, why would I speak this way with one client if I know better than to do it with all?
This brought me to reflect on the Yamas and Niyamas (yogi dos and don’ts) and the concept of Satya. Sat translates to “that which is” and the idea of Satya is communicating things as they are. At it’s simplest, it is the practice of being truthful. Sarcasm and Satya cannot coexist in your communication.
Sarcasm, as I already admitted, is a way of deflecting or being indirect. It is an attempt to give yourself an out if what you say is not received well. You were only joking. You didn’t mean to say something hurtful. But in actuality, you did mean to be hurtful or at least to be harsh and pointed. The premise created by sarcasm is one that is false which, according to Yoga’s teachings, it is better to remain silent than to speak falsely.
Now, I also admitted that I did this as a way to be funny and make people laugh. I find great joy in making people smile and in making them take life less seriously. But humor does not require being mean or being untrue. There are sweet and simple ways to make folks laugh. One way that I use in my classes is pointing out the absurdity of a pose. Malasana pose (yogi squat) is an inherently funny shape to be in simply because we never outgrow potty humor.
I know that my pattern of sarcasm will not be an easy one to break. It is another layer that I need to remove to come closer to my higher self. As I clear this habit, I will be opened up to new perspectives and will find the freedom to express who I really am.