clownHumor has been said to be the best medicine. But as with all medicine if we overdose, problems can occur.

I once had a client who exemplified the problem. Billy had an incredible sense of humor. Everyone that was around him was usually laughing. He was infectious. He could turn most anything into a joke or an amusing situation. That is why his fiance broke up with him.

Billy could never turn off his motor. He could not provide empathy or sympathy in an intimate way because his humor required he come up with a joke instead of being emotionally “present”. When she needed his support and love, an emotional connection, Billy was busy making a joke. When she needed validation he came up with a one liner. When she needed to be understood, he would provide a knee-slapper.

Billy was incapable of connecting emotionally because he was so busy working in the joke factory he was unaware of what was truly going on around him. He was physically present but never emotionally. He was just too busy working on his humor.

It hurt Billy not only with his relationships with others, but also the relationship with self. He used his humor to deflect difficult feelings, never working through or processing them. Every thing difficult was deflected. The result? A pile of emotional baggage that he had to drag around.

He struggled with depression and anxiety. When we approached the work on these issues his humor came out and the deflecting began. He never mastered being able to confront and experience what he was truly feeling. He never received the important messages his feelings contained. They were always deflected away.

We do need humor, it does make the world better, but avoid overdosing on this best medicine.