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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The laughter that masks the tears and general coping mechanisms.



I've observed over the year that people have different ways of coping with pain that comes from the loss--whether it be a person, pet, life they used to have, etc.

Lately, I've become more acutely aware of the role of laughter as a coping mechanism and will address it more fully.  However, I will address the coping mechanisms I see.

Sometimes it is a fine line, between healthy and unhealthy.  For example, anger can be a necessary component of processing, but too much can be poisonous or destructive.  Similarly, relationships can give us comfort from pain, but shouldn't be a mechanism to completely avoid it.

  • Negative Emotional coping
    • Sarcasm 
      • Sometimes it can be funny, but sometimes it can be very hostile.
      • Very often a detached way of expressing true feelings.  
      • Can be anger masked by a veneer of 'witty'
    • Anger    
      • Can be healthy, a stage, a part of the process.  e.g., Anger at a loved one for not taking care of his/herself and/or leaving behind a mess when they pass away.  
      • Too large of a dose of it at once and/or too extended of a dose can move from simple venting to self-poisoning.
    • Bitterness
      • Often reflected in sarcastic tones.
      • Can be anger that has hardened.
  • Cathartic/Comforting
    • Sadness
      • A general feeling of blue.  
      • Often characterized by the inability to 'move'.  Emotional molasses.
    • Depression
      • Sadness that has hardened to the point of almost a numbness. 
      • Deep emotional molasses.
    • Crying
      • The pain becomes so acute, that it literally hurts to keep it in.
      • Releases the toxins or poisons from our body
      • Release endorphins.
    • Laughter
      • Can be finding joy where little exists.
      • Can be making the best out of a rough circumstance
      • Can provide a faux happy appearance where there is real pain waiting to be released.
  • Faith/Spiritual/Relational
    • Prayer
      • Reaching out to our Higher Power/God.  Asking Him to take away or give us the tools to better manage our burdens.
    • Meditation
      • Pushing out the negative energy.
      • Focusing on the positive.
    • Counseling/Writing/Sharing
      • Working through to the cause/root of the pain.
      • Determining what is real/valid and what isn't.
      • Discussing/hashing through the steps of healing.
    • Friendships/Relationships
      • Can be like our own personal counseling.
      • Can give us a reprieve from the pain.
      • Can let us know that we have support.
      • If we rely solely on them to cope, we may be excluding effectively taking other steps to work though/deal with our pain.
  • Destructive/Addictive coping
    • Drugs/Alcohol
      • Relying on a chemical to deal with what we should be processing.
      • Destructive to progress, physically unhealthy and can be deadly.
    • Relational
      • Relying on addiction to other people--real or 'imaginary'-- affairs/porn.
      • Reaching so heavily and often for it can suck the productive life out of us.
    • Circumstances/Things
      • Compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, hoarding are examples.
      • Expensive and drain us of emotional/necessary physical resources
    • OCD behaviors
      • Eating disorders, excessive cleaning are some examples.
      • Time consuming and can in some cases be physically damaging.

I am sure there are many more ways of coping.  But those are the ones I readily see.  As I indicated I've become more acutely aware over time of the role of laughter in coping.  A sarcastic, condescending laughter is the way a narcissist might deal with pain/loss.  A nervous or excessive laughter is often a way of 'laughing vs. crying'.   In each case, there is a feeling of acute or intense pain.  In the one case, you may be avoiding displaying pain by pushing it out into laughter.   It can appear as being cheerful or happy--sometimes wittingly and sometimes unwittingly--but often is really a way of avoiding the vulnerable appearance of crying.

I well known saying is that "Laughter is good for the soul."   But, if it is a way of avoiding the other necessary coping mechanisms, it can be a nice storefront to a rotting soul. 

That being said, by all means I encourage people to laugh until their heart is content, but make sure it isn't completely at the expense of crying, praying, writing, meditating, etc.