I like to think so myself as a sensitive and emotional person…when I’m alone. In a social situation, I tend to hide my beliefs and emotions back for a couple of reasons. One, it’s difficult to talk about hard things with others who you’re not sure care or not, and two, talking about sensitive things makes me emotional and teary eyed.
One of my defense mechanisms is to use laughter as a cover up for deeper emotions or topics. If a subject is bothering me and someone asks me about it (ie, my divorce or my past with anorexia), I will most likely smile and/or laugh it off and make up something funny to say in order to dodge the emotional stuff all together. It’s just easier sometimes.
But the truth is, I wish I could talk more openly about myself and the things I’ve gone through with others. I wish I could be more open and express my true, sensitive self. The problem is, is that I have so many emotions that if I don’t laugh, I will just start crying.
I really started thinking about this habit during a counseling session that J and I went to. We’ve been seeing a couples counselor for the past two months or so in order to help communicate better and to literally be able to ‘fight’ better. It’s been tremendously helpful mainly because it’s not traditional counseling where we talk about our issues and the therapist takes sides and makes us feel bad. We found an Imago therapist who helps us use a three step communication technique that allows us to focus on how to solve the problems through better listening and compassion.
Anyway, we were there last week discussing how sometimes J can interrupt me while I’m talking and how that makes me feel. What I was saying was just brushing the surface of how I truly felt when he does this, so the therapist suggested I try to go deeper and tell J how, when he talks over me it makes me feel as though he’s not listening, doesn’t care about what I have to say, and isn’t giving me the attention I need. At first I just started laughing and I couldn’t keep a straight face because it was so hard for me to express my thoughts. The therapist picked up on this and told me that where there is laughter, there are deep emotions. I had to push through the barrier in order to get those emotions out even though I ended up crying.
I just find this fascinating because it’s a habit I can tell I have even while I’m doing it. Sometimes at work, the other girls will talk to me about their problems and I will try to express my own but always get caught laughing them off and I probably come across as someone who is shallow or rude. Which isn’t true at all.
It’s just interesting to hear someone else (my therapist) tell me what I already kind of knew: that laughter is a cover up for deeper emotions. I always knew I did this, but never knew that others did as well or that I could learn to push through the uncomfortable feeling I get when I try to talk about hard things.
It’s also taught me that it’s okay, and in fact necessary to communicate on a deeper level and to feel the emotions I’m going through, even if it means crying my eyes out.
It feels surprisingly good as well.