Using Humor to Defuse Anger!

Unless you’re a psychopath, you are not going to kill somebody while you are laughing. And when you are done laughing, the original anger that made you want to kill, will have almost certainly lessened or be gone. Humor lessens tension so that better communication or constructive action can take place. So use humor to defuse!

Years ago when my son was a teenager and giving me a lot of ‘lip’, we had lots of arguments. I was completely frustrated, and constantly upset by his defiance. On this particular occasion, we (my husband, son and myself) were at the dinner table when my son started in. I was just about to serve the mashed potatoes. The big spoon with a heaping amount of vegetable was in my hand ready to dish out. Something in me clicked, and I pulled back on the spoon and catapulted it’s contents into my son’t face. My son responded by dipping his bare hand into the mashed potatoes and dumping them on top of my head. With that, my husband leapt up yelling “food fight!” And the fight was ON! All three of us threw mashed potatoes, pillows, anything non-breakable and non dangerous at one another, running all over the house.

IT WAS WONDERFUL!

It turned out to be the best thing we did because it totally cleared the air of tension between my son and I that had been building since I remarried. While we had to redecorate the hallway afterwards, that was no loss as the wallpaper was 50 years old and needed to go. My coat, which someone had used as a shield, also suffered, and had to go to the dry cleaner. But otherwise, everything else was fine.

At a later time, when my marriage was ending, I was extremely depressed (depression is the flip side of anger).  At the office and unable to concentrate on doing any work, I wandered next door to a neighbor’s office. Finding him alone, I asked him to tell me a joke because I badly needed to laugh. He remembered one, we both laughed, and I proceeded to someone else’s office. “I have a joke for you,” I said. I repeated the joke, laughed again, and asked him to tell me one. With this, I continued down the hall, repeating each of the jokes I learned and asking for more. Each time I told or heard one, I laughed and they laughed. This went on for weeks. The entire floor became engaged in joke telling and it boosted the spirits for us all.

Humor can be a healthy way of coping with strong emotions such as anger, depression, frustration and emotional pain. It allows you to keep your sanity so you can survive whatever is going on. The laughter brings oxygen to your brain so that you can think more clearly. As tension is released, it allows you to become more rational and make better decisions and to take constructive action.

At an earlier time and another divorce, my son (then in grade school) and I both had a lot of anger at his step-father, who had not only been emotionally abusive to us both, but had been physically rough with my son. My son truly hated this man and was prepared to hurt him if he came back into the house. So I had him play mental games with me of what practical jokes we could play on this man – things that would be an affront to his dignity, but not physically hurt him in any way.

For example, we would imagine giant birds or animals flying overhead and pooping on him, or sending dog too-doo to him in the mail, etc. We would imagine him as animal/bird/critter, and come up with insulting but funny names to call him. These mental games helped him, and are similar to a Neural Linguistic Programming technique called ‘Carnival’. I have written several visualizations to turn anger into humor in Chapter 6 my self-hypnosis course book, Your Unlimited Potential (see link here).

When things are really tough, sometimes the only thing you can do is to laugh. And if you are able to laugh on a regular basis, you probably will not get so angry or as often. So look for the funny side of things!

0  I will be presenting a seminar on Using Humor to Defuse Anger in Your Practice at the upcoming National Association of Transpersonal Hypnotherapists Conference occurring November 3-8 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. And I also will be giving a full-day workshop on Releasing Anger Without Killing Anyone on Wednesday, 11/8. See NATH.world for information.

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