Sometimes a sense of humor may be used to wound. Sometimes when we are in a deathly serious place where wounds are smarting its difficult to see the funny or ironical side. My own experience is that I had to suffer deeply and understand so much about my upbringing before I could reclaim the natural sense of humor I seemed to have lost growing up. I also know that a central adult child issue of those raised in homes with legacy of addiction, out of control behavior, chaos or other dysfunction is that we learn to become super serious. We try to maintain control or fix things that are out of control, we develop wounds and defences that we carry into later life. If we were taught to believe we were never ‘good enough’ as we were as ordinary humans we try to cover over certain attributes and adopt a disguise to get more love or attention or whatever was lacking in our family of origin. And its harder to see the funny side in our flaws or common humanity.
In writing this the concept of narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage come to mind. Many of us may be aware of the tightly sprung hair trigger of exquisitely painful over sensitivity within that could be tripped into gear by others. We end up reacting and then possibly feeling ashamed or even worse than before. It all comes from the inability to see ourselves are we REALLY are, ordinary flawed human beings who were raised in situations and homes where so much was outside of our control, or how as ordinary human motrals we suffered from the impact of events and influences we are still struggling to understand. That is why I think the return of the ability to laugh at it all, (not in a sarcasitic or unkind way) is such a great sign of recovery and of the lightening that happens when we find ourselves as the point in our healing where we have begun to develop empathy and self compassion.
I have been thinking about this issue this week as there have been several incidences on radio where people have had their noses put out of joint by certain comments that obviously come from ignorant people or people just trying to make a point but being a bit wrong footed in their choice of words or expressions. This then sparks a massive reaction and multiple news bulletins about the offence and how offended everyone was. I hope I am not being callous or unfeeling here but I found myself just thinking this week it was all a bit ridiculous. Do we always have to be so ‘policitally correct?’ That said it all depends upon the person involved and their depth of wounding. When we are in a vulnerable place without a lot of skin or scar tissue grown over our wounds they do bleed in response to triggers. However I do think there is something to be said for learning to take comments a little less seriously and seeing the lighter side. Maybe its just where I am today but I thought I would write a post about it.
In his book Dark Nights of The Soul, psychotherapist Thomas Moore addresses the issue of irony in depth, seeing it as both an profound outcome and powerful antidote to the dark night of depression. The development of a comedic or ironical view means we escape the splitting of the ‘divided self’ so prevalent in our selves and culture.
How can you develop a constructive sense of irony in your life? A first step might be to reconsider basic ideas you have about human life. Many people live by sentimental notions that haven’t matured into appropriately complex ideas. Life is complicated, usually more so than your understanding and philosophy of life. A sense of irony develops from deeper thought and a more educated imagination.
Irony can only come from an awareness of the good and the bad, the successes and the failures, the areas of intelligence and the zones of folly and ignorance.
Know that you are both intelligent and stupid, often in the same moment. Admit to what you desire and what you fear. If you did little more than these two things, you would be filled with irony and your actions would be infinitely more trustworthy for their honesty. Its alright to be afraid. Its alright to have grand and eccentric longing. Only by embracing these two emotional pillars will you glimpse the nature of your soul, which is the ground of your existence.
A dark night of the soul take you to Hell, where you do not only feel withdrawn from life, you also discover yor own perversity and dark inclinations. You find that you are a complex person and that life itself can’t be easily divided into good and evil. Maybe you stop identifying with the good and own up to your own tendencies towards the bad. Like Persephone, you give up your innocence and take some authority from your underworld. ..
we are left with a great battle, not between good and evil, but between really living and just pretending…..Anyone passionate about life is neither all good nor all evil. ….Wallace Stevens once wrote….”The really real is made up of both fact and human imagination. If you can’t think, reflect, and actively imagine your life into existence, you are condemned to a half life of unconsiousness. You are mired in facts, information and slogans.”…. Maybe your dark night is one big ironical challenge, just the opposite of what it appears to be – not a dying, but a birthing.
Thomas Moore, Life’s Ironies, Chapter Five, Dark Nights of the Soul, Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals.