Being able to laugh is a very important ability, which represents intelligence, imagination & emotional release – all part of resilience. It’s so important that Alice Miller (“For Your Own Good” & other books) observed that murderers & other psychopaths do not have the capacity for humor – needed as a release valve for anger & frustration – so they take their rage out on others instead.
People under duress who can use humor to cope are much more resilient. Norman Cousins used the Marx Bothers movies to help heal his illness (along with Vit C). With humor, people suffering bereavement, major illness, war…. experience less hopelessness & depression. Those in a high-stress careers (like cops) will often make jokes in the face of tragedy & suffering, & the USO sends comics to the front lines…..
Recent research says that humor requires a tremendous amount of brain power. “Getting a joke would seem, on the surface, to be an intuitive but trivial process. Instead, brain imaging shows there’s more going on than we might think.” (Andrea Samson – Switzerland). .(More info)
But unrecovered ACoAs can have a hard time finding anything funny. After all, growing up in a very painful environment left little room for humor – unless it came in the form of cruel teasing or clever sarcasm, which was just passive-aggressive anger! There was nothing funny about the yelling, fighting, isolation, drunkenness, beatings, put-downs, mental illness…..
That’s why, as adults, we need to add some humor into every day – such as being around people who are funny in good ways, finding the irony in ever-day occurrences, watching stand-ups, funny movies, comedies….
EXP: Comics like Robin Williams, Gabe Iglesias or Jeff Dunham — but not like Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Andy Kaufman.... Apologies to anyone who likes any of the last 3. There may be an exception in Lewis Black – his anger makes sense about a lot of things, but especially if you’re into liberal political commentary. Then there’s always Bill Engvall, or Ron White (the clever, sexy, overweight, blatant alcoholic 😀 – if you like that type 🤠)….. And YES, there are lots of great women too, as in the “10 Greatest Female Comedians“.
Keep in mind that we are now the parent to our Inner Child/ Children – who still take in everything around them – ‘little pitchers have big ears‘ – so it’s up to us to protect them from PPT (people, places & things) that are too harsh or gross – given our WIC’s high anxiety level & many terrible experiences, even if our adult-self doesn’t mind.
Some people like ‘gallows humor’, because laughing at someone else’ misfortune makes them feel superior. Ugh! We got enough of that as kids !!
😨 And then there are the self-deprecating ACoAs who continually make fun of themselves AND demand that others be amused by it – as if it’s so clever.
EXP: Sheara once has a sponsee who did that, & when Sheara didn’t laugh, the girl said “What the matter, don’t you have a sense of humor?” The response was: “I don’t find self-hate funny!” 😂
Interesting: A study was done in the US with 201 adult twin pairs, to see if there might be a connection between ‘mental toughness’ & humor styles.
• Mental toughness = measure of a person’s resilience & confidence, that may predict success in sports, education & the workplace. (Characteristics) Includes: Emotional Control, Control over Life, Confidence in Abilities, Interpersonal Confidence…… (Qualities to develop it)
• Humor styles = 2 Positives (affiliative, self-enhancing) & 2 negatives (aggressive, self-defeating) (Descriptions)
Participants took assessment test on both factors. RESULTS: There was a Positive correlation between the positive humor styles and all but one of the mental toughness factors. Conversely, no correlations were found between all mental toughness factors & negative humor styles.
SO – the healthier a person’s mind, the less interest there is in bad humor!
When listening to humor or anything else – consider your emotions & physical sensations! Does it feel uplifting, are you happier, relaxed, relieved…. or uncomfortable, angry, grossed out…. You do not have to hate-listen/ hate-watch/ hate-read – anything, or stay anywhere that hurts.
Al-Anon teaches: “Go where it’s warm”!
NEXT: Resilience – Social