People who use humor as a defense mechanism probably experienced these 7 things growing up

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Humor is often our go-to when things get tough. Many of us use it to lighten up when we find ourselves in precarious situations.

Sometimes, it’s super helpful, but other times, it kind of gets in the way of dealing with our real feelings. 

Researchers found that nurses, for example, use humor to cope with stress when dealing with tough situations at work, such as problematic patients or even death.

If, whenever you feel sad or mad, you make a joke instead of facing those feelings, you likely learned to use humor as a defense mechanism growing up. 

It makes you feel better for a moment, and it’s your way of dealing with life’s challenges.

Are you curious about why some people, or even yourself, use humor as a defense mechanism? Sure you are. That’s why you clicked on this article!

So, let’s explore the 8 common experiences that shed light on the roots of this coping mechanism.

1) They often got criticized by family or friends even for smaller mistakes

Whenever my kid accidentally drops or breaks something at home, I try not to get too upset. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m doing my best. I try to explain that accidents can happen, but we need to be careful to avoid getting hurt. 

Doing this more calmly helps me forget how I used to get yelled at every time I made a mistake or how my sister laughed at me for being clumsy.

Even now, when I accidentally break something (like a cup last Christmas with my family), I laugh and make jokes about it. 

But deep down, I still feel a bit embarrassed. I try to use humor to handle my feelings, like telling my wife to clean it up faster so nobody notices what happened. 

It’s a way I’ve learned to cope with these situations, even today.

2) Their parents always compared them to siblings or friends, making them feel they were not good enough

Growing up, some kids hear things like, “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?” This makes them feel like they’re not as good as their siblings and can make them feel really bad about themselves.

A similar thing happens when our parents compare us to that amazing kid at school who does really well on exams and gets fantastic grades.

And sometimes, kids see that their parents treat one sibling better than the other, which can make them feel bad, too.

All of these things can make a kid feel like they’re not as good as other people, which is why they start using humor to deal with these feelings and then continue doing so when similar stuff happens later in life. 

For example, comparisons at work by your colleagues and your boss.

3) They had to change schools a lot and deal with the difficulties of adjusting to new places

Did your parents move a lot because of their work? If the answer is yes, then I’m sure that took a toll on you. 

It was tough because each time, you had to start over, make new friends, and adjust to different classes. 

I still remember a new kid in my school. He was a very funny guy, and I liked to hang out with him. 

His father was a diplomat, and they moved a good few times. It wasn’t easy for him to try to fit in every time he changed schools. 

I remember him feeling a bit lost and struggling to keep up with the workload because each school had its own way of teaching things. But humor helped him cope. 

He used it every time someone took a metaphorical swing at him or asked him about the schools he went to. It just made it feel a bit easier for him at times.

4) They felt pressured to live up to their parents’ high standards

Growing up, some folks felt a lot of pressure to be perfect in their parents’ eyes. This pressure could be about getting good grades, being successful, or just behaving perfectly

When they couldn’t meet these expectations, their parents were probably disappointed or upset with them. 

To handle this stress, some kids turned to humor. When their parents got serious about their high expectations, they’d crack a joke to avoid the serious talk.

Even today, this humor helps them make fun of themselves to distract attention from their mistakes. They’ll make people around them laugh to get approval, even if just for a moment.  

So, using humor is a way to deal with the pressure and emotions they face now the same way they faced it earlier in life.

5) They were teased or bullied because of how they looked or what they liked

I have this friend who used to get teased a lot in school because of his weight. 

Later on, whenever we hung out with other people, he’d start cracking jokes about his weight and appearance before anyone else could. Everyone thought he was a good sport and laughed along with him. 

But deep down, he was just trying to avoid getting hurt by others. Instead of showing how much the teasing bothered him, he used self-deprecating jokes to hide his true feelings. 

It helped him fit in and feel included and valued. 

So, even now, humor is his way of dealing with tough situations and managing emotional stress, just like back in school. 

Simply put, laughing and making jokes about serious or heavy matters can help lessen the emotional impact of trauma.

6) They saw their parents and family members arguing a lot

Growing up with lots of family arguments can affect how we handle stress and fights. 

For example, if a child hears their parents arguing about money or maybe having relationship issues, they might try to lighten their mood by making unrelated jokes. 

This is often an attempt to stop the fighting and bring some peace between parents or other family members. 

And that’s why, over time, they become accustomed to using humor to handle difficult circumstances.

In social situations, they use jokes to change the subject or avoid awkward topics, especially if they’re sensitive. 

This helps them handle conflicts and feel better about tough situations.

7) They went through the loss of someone they were close to

Using humor also can help people deal with the sadness of losing someone they love.

Some people tell funny stories about the person who passed away, which makes them feel better and brings everyone closer together during a tough time.

It’s great to use humor to lift your spirits and bring joy to others, especially when remembering someone special. 

However, it’s important to know when to draw the line with your jokes. It’s okay to let others see that you’re feeling sad, angry, or confused.

Embrace your vulnerabilities, and reach out for support when you need it, especially when you lose someone. 

Final thoughts

Using humor as a defense mechanism is common, but its effectiveness depends on how it’s used and the context, of course. 

Sometimes, when we joke about serious stuff, it can make it seem like it’s not as important as much as it really is. It can also make it harder to ask for help when we really need it.

So, while humor can be a great way to take a break from all the heavy stuff, it’s important to remember that we still have to deal with our feelings in the end.

If you’re using humor to deal with things, it’s good to check whether it’s actually helping or making things harder. And remember, sad or angry, it’s perfectly okay to be both. 

That’s why it’s necessary to find that sweet spot between using humor to lighten the mood and avoiding your feelings altogether.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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