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Humor: Embracing your panic button

Faced with a difficult situation? Panic is good, though often denial can be better.
Panic is often the most sensible reaction.

Panic is often the most sensible reaction.

Regarding global warming, Democrats claim Republicans are in denial while Republicans counter that Democrats are in a state of panic. Why are “denial” and “panic” derogatory terms? I find panic and denial indispensable. In fact, my reaction to anything is either panic or denial. These are all I need.

Denial is underrated. Wikipedia explains: "Denial is a concept introduced by Sigmund Freud. A person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it. Instead of dealing with it, they insist that it is not true despite what might be overwhelming evidence."

The author of the above probably has a collapsing third marriage, a son in jail, a bulimic daughter, and five stepchildren, all of whom are failed acrobats. In contrast, I, a world-class denier, have been married to the same woman for 39 years and saw both my daughters finish high school without getting addicted, arrested, or pregnant. So much for honestly facing and dealing with problems.

Recall all your worries about things that never occurred. Denial would have served you better. Denial allows me to blissfully ignore my own failures, the disapproval of others, and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Panic is also underrated. I was once in an apartment that caught on fire. “Don’t panic,” I counseled myself. I did not panic, but the fire kept raging. I then realized that not panicking was not a solution. Panic is simply the absence of denial. Panic is the inescapable result of seeing the world as it is. There are rare occasions when panic is preferred over denial, for example, when dealing with the police, the IRS, or Mormon missionaries.

When not divorcing their spouses or bailing their sons out of jail, psychological counselors instruct their clients to reject immature, emotional reactions and adopt mature, reasoned, and empathetic positions. Instead, they should be teaching how to employ panic and denial. Consider a few examples:

Your spouse is not speaking to you:

  • Immature Reaction: I did nothing wrong. The hell with him/her.
  • Mature Reaction: He/She has been under a lot of pressure. I must be more sensitive, considerate, and caring.
  • Proper Reaction (denial): Thank God I’m single. The immature reaction will aggravate the tension but so will the mature, “After what she did, she is now pretending to be a saint.” Denial allows everyone to calm down.

You are traveling in Europe and the Euro is now worth $1.50:

  • Immature Reaction: Spend, but be furious at constantly getting ripped off.
  • Mature Reaction: Eat at cheap restaurants, stay at cheap hotels, and have a lousy trip.
  • Proper Reaction (denial): Pretend that one Euro equals one dollar and have an enjoyable trip. You can later panic when you receive your AMEX bill.

You read that Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear weapons:

  • Immature Reaction: Nuke ‘em.
  • Mature Reaction: Negotiate.
  • Proper Reaction (denial): Iran and North Korea no longer exist. They changed their names to Martinique and Barbados. Perhaps I will visit this winter. Since your reaction makes not a jot of difference, why not have happy thoughts and spend February in "Martinique"?

You are at a stop sign. The car waiting ahead of you displays a Sunset Club sticker:

  • Immature reaction: Blast your horn and scream, “Move it, you old biddy.”
  • Mature Reaction: Calmly wait until there is no traffic in sight. She will eventually cross the intersection.
  • Recommended Reaction (panic): Throw your car into reverse and get away as fast as you can. As previously stated, there is a time for panic. Absent panic, you could be waiting for three days.

Steve Clifford writes humor for Crosscut. He is the author of the recently published political satire, Fools and Knaves. In his unhumorous life, he was CEO of King Broadcasting and once played a role in saving New York City from bankruptcy.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Nov 30, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

"Pretend that €1 = $1 and have an enjoyable trip"... exactly what I did on my honeymoon. It worked! The South African couple on our cruise couldn't quite manage it, though, since one rand is worth about 14¢, and beer cost about six times more on board than back home...

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