10 signs someone has mastered the art of hiding their emotions

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We all feel some emotion, but not everybody has the same response to their feelings. 

For certain people, their emotions are too painful, or they feel shame or vulnerability about feeling too much: 

So they learn to mask and hide what they feel. 

How can you tell when somebody is a master at hiding their emotions? 

Let’s take a look at the signs: 

1) They know how to physically disguise emotions

Those who have learned how to hide their emotions are masters at disguising the physical symptoms. 

They tend to come across particularly calm and steady, because they have practiced how to keep their breathing regular and their facial expression neutral. 

They don’t fidget or have tics if they’re anxious, and they have practiced holding their hands still and maintaining a blank expression. 

It’s very hard to tell what they’re feeling – positive or negative – because they have practiced masking it. 

2) They hide their microexpressions

Microexpressions are tiny facial movements that reveal underlying emotions. 

They happen right away, usually before somebody decides on the emotion they wish to display.

Investigators and interrogators are trained to detect these small and automatic expressions when questioning somebody so that they can see the real reactions and feelings of people. 

Those who are masters at hiding their emotions have learned to hide their microexpressions. They are able to maintain a fully and completely neutral facial expression that doesn’t give away even the tiniest detail. 

Their poker face is perfect. 

3) They’re selectively vulnerable 

Because of their ability to control the emotions that others see, those who are masters at hiding their feelings can choose when to be selectively vulnerable. 

They strategically choose when and with whom to display vulnerability, carefully selecting moments to open up.

At other times they choose to remain guarded, depending on the situation. 

They may hide how they feel in one situation and then open the floodgates on another situation to get pity, attention or a bargaining advantage, for example, or just to explain how important an issue is to them. 

4) They deflect serious discussions with jokes

Those who are skilled at hiding emotions are often very funny and able to make a good joke at the drop of a dime. 

They excel at redirecting conversations or using humor to deflect attention away from topics that may trigger emotional responses.

In this way, they effectively mask their true feelings, even when those feelings may be quite intense or painful. 

After all, if the interaction or conversation has now become something to laugh about, who is anybody to dig deeper and see what they “really” feel? They’ve just indicated it’s no big deal, right? 

At least that’s what they’d have you think. 

5) They use emotionally ambiguous language

Those who are skilled at hiding how they feel also tend to be very skilled with their words

They use ambiguous language or vague responses to questions about their emotions in order to hide from clarity about their feelings and thoughts. 

This allows them to maintain an air of mystery while avoiding directly saying how they feel. 

They may use words like “fine,” “not bad,” “hangin’ in there” and other very generic terms to avoid disclosure of their true feelings.

How do they really feel? Well, you can’t tell from the words they use. 

6) They pretend to respond the way they are socially expected to

Those who are adept at hiding their emotions are able to shift into social roles that are expected even when they don’t necessarily actually feel what those roles entail. 

They adapt their emotional responses to fit social expectations or situational cues in many cases. 

As a nurse, for example, they display sympathy for somebody who’s suffering even when they really feel nothing, or as a high-stakes investor they display indifference during a dramatic showdown over a stock when in reality they are extremely anxious. 

They are able to seamlessly blend in with their surroundings without betraying their true emotional state.

7) They avoid deep eye contact 

Those who are skilled at hiding their feelings are often avoidant of eye contact. 

They have mastered the art of controlling eye contact, using strategic glances or avoiding prolonged gaze to prevent others from reading their emotions.

The eyes are often considered windows to the soul for a reason, and looking in someone’s eyes can provide real insights and intuitions about how somebody feels. 

By avoiding prolonged eye contact, this person can prevent any real insight into how they feel from coming across to others. 

8) They can hide signs of caring about something

They possess the ability to empathize with others or care about a situation without necessarily displaying outward signs of emotion themselves.

They are able to keep a calm and composed demeanor even in emotionally intense exchanges and may have a reputation as unshakeable and always unruffled. 

They may care deeply about something or someone, or they may not care at all:

But folks can’t really tell how this person feels, and, as noted, they are able to be selectively vulnerable or emotionally performative as they choose. 

This makes it very difficult to know how they genuinely and spontaneously feel in reality rather than in a chosen role or selective display. 

One of the specific ways that they are able to hide how they care about something is in the following point. 

9) They subconsciously reframe and recategorize their emotions

Those who are talented at hiding how they feel are able to recategorize and reframe their emotions in a way that disguises and transforms them. 

They have developed subconscious mechanisms for controlling their emotional responses, such as mental imagery or cognitive reframing techniques. 

This enables them to regulate their emotions in real time without showing outer signs of it. 

When they hear something sad, for example, they may have a habit of picturing a scene from one of their favorite comedies, counteracting the depressive feelings they feel and leading to a neutral and seeming indifference. 

Now nobody else can tell how they feel. This relates closely to the final point: 

10) They’re able to encrypt their emotions

Emotional maskers are great at encrypting their emotions. 

What they show that they feel may not be what they actually feel, and what they hide you won’t necessarily have any indication they are hiding. 

They possess the ability to compartmentalize their emotions, encrypting them behind layers of psychological barriers or cognitive filters.

In other words, they are sometimes able to even hide how they feel from themselves, making it nearly impossible for others to decipher their true feelings.

To find out how they really feel would require them to be honest with others but also start with admitting to themselves how they really feel.

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