Humor is a great tool for relieving stress during the recovery process. Humor can be a way for someone to break up their daily challenges into manageable pieces and create a healthy mindset in order to take on the difficulties of recovery. However, humor can also be used as a defense mechanism. Looking at how each person employs humor through their recovery can indicate how they are coping with a variety of different stressors or the progress they have made. Being able to recognize when humor is being used due to genuine joy, or when it is being employed defensively to avoid certain topics of conversation, is important for each person to continue exploring the depths of their own underlying emotions surrounding their use of drugs or alcohol.
Benefits of Humor in Recovery
Humor and laughter play a big role in recovery. The ability to laugh and enjoy one’s time in sobriety can reinforce each person’s decision to make these changes in their lives and create an overall positive outlook on one’s present and future. Being able to find joy and laughter on a daily basis introduces genuine joy and can improve one’s overall emotional state. Being able to laugh at one’s mistakes is a way of accepting oneself for who they are and provides an essential way to detach from the stresses by finding silver linings and happiness in otherwise difficult times. The ability to occupy this state of mind is profound for the progress that someone has made in their own self-image and journey to self-actualization.
Using humor can be a great tool to help ease tensions in stressful situations, and professionals are encouraged to take this approach as it can make opening up dialogues with otherwise reluctant clients a bit easier. Breaking down a tense atmosphere and building up to difficult conversations can be an essential technique for instilling trust between professionals and clients. However, humor is a fickle thing that can be used to either highlight the good times or deflect stresses during hard ones.
Humor as a Distraction Technique
Humor can also be used in conversations to avoid stressful situations. While it can be genuinely used to express joy in life, it can also be employed as a mask to cover up more sensitive topics that need to be addressed in order to continue on an effective recovery path. Making jokes about serious topics can be a way for someone to try to convince themselves that the issues they are facing may not be as dire as they may actually be and thus avoid confronting some of the most formative times of their lives.
Observe the Language Behind the Laughter
As someone makes jokes in recovery it is important to pay attention to the actual words and topics being chosen, rather than solely focusing on the tone that someone takes. Identifying keywords or topics can be the first sign to indicate whether someone is using humor out of genuine happiness or if they are employing it as a masking tool to divert attention away from an uncomfortable topic.
Topics that someone chooses to discuss can be very telling about how someone is choosing to use humor. Being able to joke about one’s own mistakes through recovery or simply tease friends may indicate that someone is developing a healthy relationship with themselves and others. However, other topics may indicate that someone is in a dangerous spot and is toying with an idea that could put them at risk for a relapse. Making jokes akin to “This is why I started drinking,” when presented with an outlandish situation may seem joking at first, but it can be an indicator that reengaging with drugs or alcohol may be on someone’s mind. This can also indicate that someone may be beginning to romanticize their time with drugs or alcohol and could be once again visualizing it as part of their day. Making jokes about one’s past use, going to bars, or some of the serious consequences that someone may have experienced could indicate that they are reaching a conflict point in their recovery.
Language can also be an indication of how someone is feeling, even when presented in a joking tone. During stressful times, someone may use absolute language, including words like “definitely,” “impossible,” “absolutely,” or “certainly,” creating a dialogue that works only in binaries. This kind of language is also indicative of someone having a trying time in their recovery and they may be beginning to see their own progress in sobriety in black and white terms.
Humor is an essential tool in recovery, but it is still important to pay attention to how it is used. If you notice someone may be using humor to mask difficult times in their recovery or are engaging with drugs or alcohol, Alta Centers can help you set a plan to get back on a healthy, sober path. Located in Los Angeles, California, Alta Centres prides itself on its inclusive and fun approach to sobriety, creating communities that remain integrated with the “real world” while still instilling the necessary coping mechanisms and life skills that create the groundwork for an effective recovery journey. Each person’s program is highly specialized to fit their own needs and goals in recovery in order to practice the skills that are pertinent to them and their ongoing sober lives. To learn more about how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (888) 202-2583.