It’s easier to laugh at myself for locking myself out of the work building (again) than it is for me to get mad at myself and punish myself with a lecture. My day is going to be a more positive one if I choose to laugh (internally) about the tiny thing one of my two year old students is having an enormous meltdown over rather than get frustrated at the student or be hard on myself for not being able to solve the impossible situation. I’m going to have a better relationship with my husband if I can laugh at some of the small annoying (and harmless) things he does rather than let them set me off every time.
Finally, humor is a way in which I help myself gain perspective. For example, if I’m worrying nonstop about something that’s going to potentially happen in a few days, I might say to myself, “You know, Alissa, you could get hit by a bus before that thing even has a chance to happen. Might as well spend our last few bus-free days in the moment!” (If the thing you’re worried about is getting hit by a bus this might not be the strategy for you…)
“Blowing a situation completely out of proportion to the point of ridiculous is another way I use humor to gain perspective.”
For example, when my husband and I were in college and just “talking,” he drove nine hours to come visit me at my summer internship in another state. I was so nervous beforehand. So I texted my mom about all the things I was worried about. They started out understandable (“What if I get so nervous I don’t know what to say?” and then escalated quickly (“What if we drive somewhere and then I get so nervous I forget how to take off my seat belt and I have to live in a car for the rest of my life and never get to experience walking again???”). Once I got myself laughing out loud, I instantly felt more at ease.
Another example is whenever I’m throwing myself a pity party over a bad day.
“Yes, sometimes we need to wallow and feel and process. And, no, invalidating our pain because other people are hurting more than we are is not effective or healthy. OBVIOUSLY.”
But some days, I personally really do just need to satirically say, “I can’t think of one person in the entire world who has it worse than I do right now. This is quite frankly the epitome of human suffering and how one person can bare so much pain, I don’t know! I” When my awful situation is feeling drained from a busy day, those statements are blatantly not true. Such absurdity makes me chuckle. And sometimes laughter helps me gain perspective in ways seriousness can’t.
What about you? Do you use humor as a tool with your wonky brain?
Alissa writes regularly about her journey through life with ADHD and anxiety.