People who are unhappy in life but hide it well display these 8 subtle behaviors

There’s a tough reality I’ve been wrestling with lately:

I’ve known people, many people in fact, who seem perfectly content on the surface, but underneath it all, they’re deeply unhappy.

It’s not always a grand theatrical display of sorrow, sometimes it’s barely noticeable.

You might even mistake it for just them having an off day, but when you really pay attention, you start to notice that it’s more than that.

This is about those subtle cues that hint at a hidden unhappiness.

So, let me share with you these 8 subtle behaviors often displayed by people who are unhappy in life but do their best to keep it under wraps.

1) They often wear a mask of perpetual cheerfulness

There’s a strange paradox I’ve observed:

People who are deeply unhappy often present themselves as the life of the party.

They’re the ones always making jokes, always with a smile plastered on their face, always ready to lighten the mood.

But if you look close enough, you might notice that this cheerfulness feels forced. Like they’re putting on a show.

This isn’t to say that every cheerful person you meet is secretly unhappy. But if someone seems to be “on” all the time, it could be a sign that they’re using this positivity as a mask to hide their true feelings.

It’s an exhausting act to keep up, pretending to be happy when you’re not. And it’s one of the subtle behaviors often displayed by people who are unhappy in their lives but are doing their best to hide it.

2) They’re quick to deflect personal questions

I’ve seen this one up close, more times than I care to admit.

You know, when you’re catching up with a friend and you ask how they’re doing, and they give you that generic “I’m fine” or “Everything’s great” response?

But when you try to dig deeper, they swiftly change the subject or make a joke to lighten the mood.

I used to do this a lot. I was so scared of letting people see my unhappiness, I’d become an expert at dodging questions about my personal life.

It’s a subtle behavior, but it’s a clear sign that a person is trying to hide something. In this case, their unhappiness.

3) They’re always busy

This one’s a bit close to home for me.

I remember a time when my calendar was always full. Meetings, social events, work commitments – you name it, I was always up to something.

From the outside, it probably seemed like I was just super driven and ambitious. But the truth was, I was using busyness as a way to escape from dealing with my feelings of unhappiness.

I was so caught up in this whirlwind of activity that I didn’t have to sit still long enough to confront my inner turmoil.

Now I realize that it’s not normal to be so busy all the time. It’s not healthy either. And it’s certainly one of those subtle signs that someone might be hiding their unhappiness.

4) They have trouble sleeping

I’ve always been fascinated by the link between our emotional state and our sleep patterns.

People who are unhappy often struggle with sleep issues. This might manifest as insomnia, restless sleep, or even too much sleep.

It’s like their inner turmoil doesn’t allow them to rest, even when they’re physically exhausted.

Or on the flip side, they might use sleep as an escape from their waking life.

Either way, it’s a sign that something’s not right beneath the surface. If someone you know has suddenly developed sleep issues, it might be a subtle hint of hidden unhappiness.

5) They lose interest in things they once loved

This one’s a bit heartbreaking to witness.

You see, when someone’s unhappy, they often lose interest in activities that used to bring them joy. That hobby they used to love? They can’t find the energy or enthusiasm for it anymore.

I had a friend who used to love painting. She’d spend hours immersed in her art. But when she was going through a rough patch, she just stopped. The brushes and paints collected dust, and she couldn’t explain why.

It’s like the color had drained from her world.

This loss of interest is a subtle yet powerful sign of hidden unhappiness. It’s like their zest for life is slowly fading away.

6) They have a hard time making decisions

It’s a peculiar thing, but I’ve noticed it time and again.

When someone is deeply unhappy, they often struggle with making decisions. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. They second-guess themselves, overthink, and often end up in a state of indecision.

I remember when I was going through a dark phase. Even choosing what to have for lunch felt like an insurmountable task.

It’s like the confidence in their own judgment is shaken. They’re afraid of making the wrong choice, so they end up not making any choice at all.

This inability to make decisions is another subtle behavior that can indicate hidden unhappiness.

7) They’re overly critical of themselves and others

This one can be a bit hard to spot, but once you do, it’s like a glaring red flag.

People who are unhappy often direct their unhappiness towards themselves and others in the form of criticism. They might put themselves down or nitpick at the smallest things in other people.

I used to have this habit. I’d criticize myself for every little mistake, every perceived failure. And I was harsh on others too. It was like I was projecting my own unhappiness onto the world around me.

This overly critical behavior is more than just being a perfectionist or having high standards. It’s a subtle sign of deeper, hidden unhappiness.

8) They withdraw from social interactions

This is the one that really hits home.

People who are unhappy often pull away from their social circles. They might start declining invitations or become less communicative.

I remember doing this myself. I’d cancel plans at the last minute, make excuses, anything to avoid socializing. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about my friends. I just didn’t have the emotional energy to put on a happy face.

It’s tought to see when someone you care about starts to withdraw. But it’s important to remember that this behavior is more than just being an introvert or needing some alone time. It’s a subtle but strong indication of hidden unhappiness.

Final thoughts

If you’ve recognized these signs in yourself or someone close to you, remember, acknowledging the issue is the first step towards healing.

Unhappiness, especially when hidden, can be a heavy burden to carry. But it’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to let people see that you’re not okay.

Start by being honest with yourself about your feelings. Explore what’s causing your unhappiness. Is it a situation, a person, a job? Once you identify the source, you can start working on solutions.

And don’t be afraid to seek help. Whether it’s from a trusted friend or a professional counselor, having someone to share your feelings with can make a world of difference.

Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your happiness and well-being. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.

Life is too short to spend it hiding your unhappiness. 

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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