Thursday, June 3, 2010

Laughter in Relationships as a Path of Awakening: Part of a Series on Relationship Healing

Relationships offer the ideal opportunity to heal our family of origin issues as they provide an environment for mirroring, validation and empathy: i.e. the kind of authentic relating that many of us missed growing up. Another tool for transformation that we have all experienced is laughter. As the body’s response to feelings of happiness and joy, laughter raises one’s physical vibrations which create healing in our mind-body system. It can create a shift in how we are experiencing everyday moments, especially those of stress, overwhelm and misunderstanding. Our own suffering is often created in how we view the world and how we choose to perceive reality. So, being able to lighten up can change our perspective from one of doom and gloom to one of a new vision with expanded opportunity.

In our relationships we can also experience shifts in how we see ourselves and our partners if we are able to pause for a moment and allow the imposed cruciality of the moment to dissipate along with our harranging ego and laugh at the drama unfolding before us. When we’re able to laugh at ourselves and our self-righteous importance, that minor shift in perspective can go a long way to halting the impending drama (usually filled with hurt and pain, the reverberations of which can last for days) and allowing enough space in order to re-evaluate the situation. It’s then that we can begin to see both ourselves and what might be occurring on an unconscious level more clearly along with the attendant needs we’ve not been able to express.

Many relationships carry an enduring tension because we don’t feel comfortable confronting our partner with specific needs (the familiar walking on eggshells). Our fear of judgment or disappointment or the fear of escalating the tension into conflict keeps us stuck in an all too serious mode that doesn’t allow us access to the innate energy of life nor give us the space to be who we really are. Having the courage to share what’s on our minds in an authentic way helps to release old patterns and can offer a way to come back to what we naturally do best, something we all did as children, which is to play.

A playful attitude which comes from seeing ourselves as characters in a play of our own creation is something that can move us through times of turmoil with more ease, like putting grease on a joint for better movement and range of motion. Indeed, emotional flexibility, the ability to flow with what’s happening and maintain our emotional equilibrium, is the goal in most personal growth and spiritual literature. It comes as a result of a conscious effort to quit holding on tightly and begin letting go lightly.

One of the hallmarks of emotional health and maturity is the ability to be able to laugh at oneself. What this implies is that we can look at our shortcomings and weaknesses as something that is common to our shared humanity, as well as teaching moments for own personal growth and relationship healing, if we’re willing to look honestly at how our behavior is negatively impacting ourselves and others. We can then make the decision to use that awareness in the future to make different choices. Hopefully, these new choices will use the higher vibration of laughter resulting in feelings of greater connection, appreciation, and love.

Michael Mongno Ph.D is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship counselor. He is the founder of Present Centered Therapies which combines Gestalt, Self-Differentiation theory and Imago Relationship Therapy into a powerful modality for change.

Michael Mongno MFT, Ph.D, LP is a licensed psychoanalyst, relationship counselor and holistic practitioner in Manhattan. He is the founder of Present Centered Therapies which synthesizes Gestalt and Cognitive Behavioral therapies, Eastern spirituality, as well as Imago and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. He brings a wealth of successful experience with a wide range of couples issues as well as down-to-earth wisdom and modern sensibility to what it takes to create healthy, loving, and empowered relationships.

Please visit or call (212) 799-0001 for more information.

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