Humor, as a social construct, is difficult to teach, and difficult to explain. Who can tell what one will find amusing, or the difference between "laughing with someone" versus "laughing at someone?" Throw in a thought-disorder and it becomes doubly difficult.
Coyote's tricks are usually played out as tricks upon himself. He becomes the safe person to laugh at/with, because he's already done something so idiotic, and failed, that he is the first (and loudest) person to begin.
|by Kippenwolf, at Deviantart.com|
This is both liberating and humiliating energy to work with; I have been able to help dissolve lots of tense, emotional outbursts by gently creating a safe place for a client to laugh. And not just a small giggle, but a full-out belly laugh.
On the other hand, I've had to quickly get rid of any pride, as I sometimes end up looking like an ass at work...
For example, our clinic is setting up a cook-out and game day before the holiday weekend. One of the games involves finding a piece of gum buried in a mountain of whipped cream, without using hands or arms. If any of you readers have worked in the human services field, you may know that very few people would want to play this game, unless "someone else" goes first.
Of course, I volunteered, eagerly, to be the "someone else."
As my fellow co-workers laughed with me, I was asked, "Why do you always want to look like a fool in front of the clients?"
And I responded with, "It's not always about looking like a fool. It's about taking that chance to do something silly and fun, and not caring what you look like. I'm trying to role-model an appropriate response to the emotions of anxiety, embarrassment, and social isolation. Because our clients will have to learn how to laugh at themselves in a way that makes them feel safe and secure."
If you think about it, it's not just those receiving mental health services that need to learn this social skill. Everyone does. How much stress is generated from worrying about how someone perceives you? Or ruminating over an embarrassing situation? How much uncomfortable energy is generated trying to control things that no one can control?
Laughter completely changes the energy of a situation, and can even flip the perspective of the person dealing with these emotions.
Laughing at one's self for situations out of one's control is a great skill, and not everyone learns how to do it right away. That's why it's important for Coyote's energy to work in this manner, to allow a safe place, a middle ground, so that laughter can be shared without the fear of hurting someone's feelings.
I look forward to winning the Bubble Gum race, and wearing my whipped-cream smile with pride!