Over the last few months, I have encouraged myself to adapt, grow, and be flexible. One of my core copings skills has always been humor. So many people in my life have made an impact on what makes me laugh - though I would have to point to my father as the biggest influence. I never thought of humor as a way to cope as I was growing up; I just enjoyed that it was fun. Now I see how it brought me closer to my dad and helped me feel loved by him. The more I can laugh with someone, the more connected I tend to feel. I see this in myself and my relationship with my fiancé. He makes me laugh and I absolutely love it! I enjoy the funny in others and always hope they enjoy the funny in me. I think it is one of the most amazing compliments to give and receive.
Though the content of my counseling sessions with clients is serious, I find humor is helpful to many. Sometimes humor can be a way to deflect. However, beneath the sarcasm, passive aggressiveness, or self-deprecation is at least an expression of something worth discussing. I suppose I would rather have a client share with an edge of humor than not share at all. In the dreary, dark, and monotonous experience of many mental health issues, humor can create a bit of lightness and space. Very often clients will use humor to mock their illness as a way to more concretely divide themselves from that illness. Moving from using self-deprecation as an expression of negative thoughts of self to negative thoughts about their symptoms allows people to create more separation between who they are and what illness they have.
Our feelings provide guiding information about our experience, helping us navigate through life. Feeling annoyed, angry, or hurt is often an indication we need to set different boundaries. Laughing at “dark” themes is a way to cope with difficult subjects. I challenge the notion that someone is “too emotional”. While there can be inappropriate BEHAVIOR associated with feelings, the feelings themselves are valid and important. I welcome all the emotions into the therapeutic process.
Given this, I love the relatability of therapy memes. Do you have any favorites?
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!