I was fondly watching an episode of Friends recently in which Phoebe was dating a psychiatrist, Roger (Played by the actor who stared in the Short Circuit movies who did a not-so-good job of portraying and Indian chap – Ahhh good ol’ fashioned 80s racism!). 😆
In the episode he proceeds to evaluate and analyse all the friends characters, and the reason for their behaviour, with relative accuracy.
The time comes when he gets to Chandler and talks about him using humour as a defence mechanism.
It then occurred to me – why is humour always given a bad wrap and seen as it being something defensive?
What if humour was all about going on the offensive?
Why does psychology and other schools of academic mind sciences see it as a bad thing?
This is where I believe they have it completely wrong. I don’t think using humour is necessarily a defensive thing. In fact, I see it as taking the offensive.
It’s all too easy to take life too seriously and that is never good. We get so attached to our stories and all the various things going on that affect us directly. Sometimes there is no better option than to take a step back, extract yourself from the situation and find the funny!
When things have not gone well, I use humour as a way of dissolving the bad stuff. I don’t use it to hide or mask it, I use it to dissolve it.
There is a huge difference.
Attaching humour to tough situations is the same as shifting your perspective on things. In NLP, one might class this as a kind of ‘re-framing’.
As with any given situation, in order to be able to handle it differently, you need to start to see it with a different viewpoint; or ‘different eyes’ so to speak. I can think of no better way then trying to ‘find the funny’ in the situation.
Depending on the scenario, it may be difficult to immediately re-frame something. However, if you can then remove yourself from the situation, you have more chance of seeing everything in a new light – and most importantly have an easier time finding the humour.
If you look at many top comedians you can instantly establish that the prime reason they got into comedy was to help alleviate some kind of pain; not in all cases of course, but for many it was a cure to the pain.
How do you spot the difference between masking the pain and dissolving it? It’s actually very simple to spot the difference. Those who skim over a subject, or bury it, or avoid talking about it – those are the signs whereby something is being masked rather than dissolved.
Signs of those who are on the path to dissolving pain are those who openly discuss it, laugh about it, share and reveal anything learned from the events and any re-framing.
The next time you find yourself troubled by a tough situation, ask yourself: ‘What is funny about all this?’ And guess what happens when you do that? The pain becomes neutralised and you no longer feel the same way about the problem. Then, dealing with it also becomes a cinch!
I admit, the first step, is always the hardest. You have to be able to remember to apply this in order for it to make any difference.
When things are not going so well, find the funny and go on the offensive with the power of your humour.