Even if it doesn’t seem like it, humor is on many occasions a defense mechanism in stressful or difficult situations. It gives color to the dark, puts a smile on the difficulty and is contagious. Sounds like the perfect antidote, right?
Defense mechanisms are strategies we employ to deal with internal or external situations that turn out to be unpleasant. Somehow it is as if with their power they could shrink that “evil” monster that creeps into us, whether it is sadness over the loss of someone, anger over a recent breakup or the discovery of an illness …
Fighting stress by trying to make it smaller, more harmless, less vehement and strange. Sometimes these defense mechanisms do allow us to forget our suffering or we reduce its causes. The space of pure air that humor creates inside us is so immense that it makes us seem to be fine, that nothing worries us.
Humor helps us escape from difficult realities
You have certainly met someone who, when he tells something serious and important, does it with a smile on his face. A smile that turns into a nervous laugh and then becomes a laugh out loud. But something is not right … As we listen to that person; we can’t help but think that something is wrong.
How can he tell us something that is obviously important or serious to him, laughing? If we stop and think for a moment, there are many people who, when they talk about something that isn’t exactly funny, they do it laughing. A laugh that does not seem authentic is more a scream of the soul that does not know how to express itself rather than a genuine laugh, a laugh of the real ones, which are born from the happy soul. It’s a laugh that feels like interference.
We perceive a dissonance between what he tells and how he tells it that actually makes us question the seriousness of the thing. There are people who don’t go any further, and mostly take laughter into consideration. “Well, if he’s laughing, it’s because the issue doesn’t touch him too much, he’ll be fine.” But the truth is that there is something wrong; when what we say clashes with how we say it, something is wrong.
Discomfort wants to be heard and accepted, not denied
This is how humor acts as a defensive mechanism in an uncomfortable reality to accept. Humor gives us warmth, and on many occasions it is a balm that helps us adapt in many social contexts. The problem, as with everything, comes when it is our only way of dealing with a situation. By “defending ourselves”, going wild against it. Without becoming aware of it or accepting it for what it is.
There are realities that cause real dizziness. Taking note of this presupposes a rather profound internal change. The way to escape from them is to deny them, by moving away from your conscience or minimizing them … By making them smaller until they disappear. Not facing something, however difficult it may be, involves distancing yourself from who you are.
Life is made up of ease and discomfort, and neither can be denied. The “cure” does not come from denying what bothers us to see, it begins with acceptance. In this sense, to accept, one must look within and have a certain respectful fear of what we find. When one does not respect one’s own past, caricaturing it to the point of breaking it down completely, others do not take us seriously.
If we don’t take ourselves seriously, we teach others not to take us seriously
“Educating” others to respect us or not is possible. As long as we do not respect our feelings and choose humor as the first mechanism to distance ourselves from OUR reality, it will be difficult to favor the respect of others towards their most intimate past. We are taught to be able to laugh at it and not to be taken seriously, that what we are talking about is not important because it “does not hurt us”, instead it does indeed hurt us, but it is so painful or uncomfortable that the first reaction is to distance ourselves.
For this reason, it is important to identify these signs of inconsistency between what one feels and what is manifested, between what is said and how it is said … This inconsistency will give us clues to help this person feel better about their discomfort .
Sometimes the simplest thing is to listen to what he really wants to tell us without getting lost in that game of masks and caricatures. That person probably wants to be heard without judgment, and just needs to hear an “okay if you’re sick (that’s normal given the circumstances you’re in) and you can manifest it here with me if you need it.”