We’re often expected to smile and perform, and shunned for opening up and admitting the truth…
That we’re not okay.
That we feel like bottomless black pits, void of happiness and sucking the life out of everything.
This pressure to hide our true feelings behind a mask inevitably leads to repressed unhappiness which swirls and grows with every fake smile.
So what do you do about it?
And how do you know if you’re unhappier than you’re letting on, if you’re so used to wearing a mask that conceals your true feelings?
If this sounds familiar, read on to find out more about the 9 behaviors that people who are unhappy in life but never open up about it often display.
Who knows, maybe it’ll resonate with you, or maybe you’ll realize that it’s time to step in and help a friend in need.
Unhappy people tend to isolate themselves to dwell alone with their unhappiness.
This might not be purely out of a love for solitude, but rather because it’s easier to be alone than it is to answer questions or have to play pretend in the company of others.
Plus, your social battery is likely running very low, making isolation seem like the only way you can try and recharge and cope with life in general.
As someone who has been through depressive periods myself, I know that there comes a point where even the kindest and most patient of people stop reaching out if you constantly decline all invitations.
So, as unhappy as you might be on the inside, try and push yourself to socialize, to do something that scares you every day.
2) Living life on autopilot
Existing, but not really living…
What does your current routine look like?
Is it wake up, work, come home, sleep – repeat?
Being stuck in a monotonous routine everyday, without any change whatsoever is a key sign of unhappiness.
It’s as if you’ve disconnected from your own life, simply watching as the days pass by.
If this resonates with what you’re experiencing, know that you’re not alone.
Many people dealing with hidden unhappiness feel the same way – just behind closed doors, so you’re often not privy to it.
You’re not alone, and it’s okay to reach out and seek help.
In addition, and following on from above, try and break that loop, if you can. Even if it’s going to a new coffee shop tomorrow.
3) You hate everything about yourself
You might not always have been filled with self-love, but suddenly it’s self-hatred and nothing but.
That little critical voice in your head is tearing you apart, picking apart your mistakes and berating you for not being good enough.
Even the smallest mistakes can lead to a spiral of negative self-talk.
And I’m talking more than just being a perfectionist. This is a coping mechanism, a way for you to justify your feelings of unhappiness by attributing it to your perceived failures or shortcomings.
So if you’re constantly beating yourself up, it might be time to address the root cause of this behavior and try to find an escape rope to pull yourself out of this toxic cycle.
4) Nothing interests you whatsoever
Your favorite TV shows, your podcasts, even your favorite food.
Nothing interests you anymore.
I know this feeling well. I’ve also been in places in my life where the entire world seemed suddenly so desperately gray, and the only emotion I sat with was pure indifference.
And this makes motivating yourself to get up out of self-isolation and back into life far more difficult, as nothing piques your interest.
Everything seems so bitterly dull and lifeless, with your unhappiness having filtrated even the colors of the sky, the smell of your coffee.
If you’re feeling so consumed by your internal emotions, it’s likely time to accept that you’re dealing with hidden unhappiness.
You’re not alone in this, and acknowledging this is the first step towards finding help and healing.
5) You’re constantly yawning
You can sleep all you like, but you still wake up yawning and feeling as if you need to hibernate.
This isn’t just physical exhaustion, but rather mental and emotional tiredness, which can make it far more difficult to rest up.
This constant tiredness can be your body’s way of signaling that something isn’t quite right.
So if you’re getting enough sleep, but you’re still feeling perpetually drained, it might well be a sign of hidden unhappiness.
6) “I’m fine”
Have a think.
When met with a caring, “How are you?”, how often have you tried to force a smile onto your lips and tell everyone you’re fine. Just fine. Totally fine.
A master of diversion and of playing smoke and mirrors, you have a few contenders for your replies…
“Alright – how’re you though? How’s work?”
“Enough about me! How’s your mum?”
Perhaps you’re even practicing your standup by cracking a few jokes when the spotlight shines on you.
This uncanny knack for diverting any care or worry directed your way is actually a defense mechanism. It’s your sly way of protecting yourself from having to open up about your hidden unhappiness and throwing people off your scent.
But despite your best efforts to avoid the topic, know that it’s okay to let your guard down sometimes.
Even more importantly, it’s okay to say you’re not okay.
7) A smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes
That fake smile you rest over your face when you’re asked how you’re doing, you’ve mastered it.
Right on cue, you pull your lips into a tight grin (or at least you hope you’re grinning and not grimacing…)
You’re not even listening half of the time; you might be laughing at jokes that you don’t find funny, or pretending to enjoy social gatherings when you’d rather be anywhere else.
This act of putting on a fake smile and a facade of cheer can be exhausting and isolating.
It’s like lugging around a heavy suitcase that no one else can see.
So if you also find yourself constantly wearing a grinning mask to conceal your true feelings, you might also be dealing with hidden unhappiness.
8) Feeling disconnected from everyone around you
In a room of your nearest and dearest, and you’d still rather be a million miles away.
You might be surrounded by people, yet still feel desperately alone.
Or mid-conversation (and you’ve been talking for a good half an hour), yet you still feel like you’re drifting off into space.
And this isn’t all because you don’t want to connect to other people either.
You just can’t help the invisible barrier created by your unexpressed emotions and hidden despondence.
9) Avoiding your own feelings
The sad reality is that ignoring your feelings won’t make them go away.
There’s a good chance that you’ve been trying to bury your feelings if you feel anchored by hidden unhappiness.
Maybe you’ve tried packing up your schedule so you’re always on the move, unable to even stop and think.
Or maybe you’ve gotten into a nasty habit of scrolling/listening to music/having an eye on 5 screens at once as a means of distracting your head from the pesky voices inside.
Unfortunately, feelings are pretty stubborn. They don’t just disappear because you want them to. In fact, they’ll keep resurfacing, demanding to be acknowledged and addressed.
And ignoring your feelings altogether prevents you from moving forward.
Because you can’t process or work through feelings you’re totally ignoring.
So, the first step towards change and growth is acceptance.
Recognize your feelings and allow yourself to feel them.
It won’t be easy, but it’s absolutely necessary to process unhappiness and start doing something about it,
What to do next…
If you’ve come away from the points above feeling a little heard, a little seen, then you too might be harboring more unhappiness than you’re letting on to the world outside.
Living with hidden unhappiness is an immensely challenging journey.
Often, the unhappier a person, the more they sequester themselves away and let that unhappiness grow.
So if this rings true for you, try and be kind to yourself.
Life involves a great deal of ups and downs, and it’s only after we’ve clambered out of sadness that we realize how far we’ve come, and what a dark hole we were in.
If you’re trying to work on finding more joy out of life, consider the following:
- Push yourself beyond your comfort zones & do something beyond your routine
- Say yes to socializing (even if you don’t want to!)
- Share your struggles – it’s okay to let people in
- Focus on resting, downtime, and self-care
- Seek professional help
And finally, as isolating as it may feel, remember that you’re not alone in this journey.
As dark as life might seem right now, it will get better.
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