empathy

How to Stop Hiding Behind Humor

Painting by Yue Minjun

Painting by Yue Minjun

I have used humor, and painted a smile on my face, to cover what I was really feeling.

It’s not an unusual thing to do; the best of us are guilty of it. Humor can be an amazing way to cope with life and a wonderful gift to give to others; most of the comedians do this, certainly. We all wear our masks, and hide every emotion, other than happiness, behind it. But it could be hurtful to do this to yourself.

I was very shy as a kid, and it is something I took with me even as I grew up. I was quite an easy target for bullies, and to be a little less vulnerable, I made my own mask of humor and hid behind it often. Everyone said that it suits me, and I took pride in it too. I wore my porcelain precision like it was real, but every once in a while, I’d smash something.

If the mask, no matter how well you wear it, gets in the way of how you actually feel, it can be dangerous. There are phrases like- “Smile damnit!” or “Fake it till you make it” being thrown around, all the time, but bottling up your emotions could be the most lethal thing you could do for yourself.

It affects the framework of your personality and boost up your anger or sometime even lead to depression. Understanding the fact that all emotions are meant to be felt, was difficult, but a revelation nonetheless.

Now I try hard every day to rise above any depressive tendencies that I was growing up with. I cry a lot more than I used to, I express the pain and anger more, but I tell myself that it is okay to feel. You are human and we have feelings.

I also advise others not to bottle up or hide their emotions because it can come out in ways that you least expect it.

This life is both heaven and hell and all we need is to embrace it. Here are things to understand in order to get you started:

YOU MATTER
It is the first and foremost step, is to tell yourself that your feelings matter – there are people who care. Men are being told all the time: “Real men don’t cry,” and “Big boys do not show emotions.”

What those confused men, buried under the skin of patriarchy, needed to be told instead is that it’s okay, you are human too, and your personality should not be measured by gender specific standards. You matter!

Women being told all the time: “Don’t be a drama queen,” “Don’t frown all the time” and “Smile, you don’t know who might be falling in love with it.”

What those confused women, buried under the bizarre societal standards, needed to be told, is that it’s okay, you don’t have to fake it to attract anyone, you don’t owe your smile to anyone, you are not a drama queen and it’s alright if you are. You matter!

HOW ARE YOU
It is important to understand, that you don’t always need to put on a brave face to everyone and that “I’m fine” is not always the universally accepted response when someone asks how you are doing. People should be told more often by their loved ones that when they ask about their well-being, they genuinely want to know if they are alright. Fake answers do not help all the time; fake happiness does not make you happy at all.

STOP BOTTLING IT UP
It’s important to understand that bottling up emotions doesn’t make them go away, it comes back, and makes it even harder to cope. For me, it was smashing things. For others, it could be about smashing someone’s head. Anger is the most dangerous when it is bottled up.

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD
It’s important to understand, that there are people, who actually listen, when you tell them how you feel. It’s important to understand, that writing down something actually works pretty well, when all you need to do is to figure out something (Even if it doesn’t, you will have a new piece of writing anyway). I seek my comfort in poetry, others might find it in music, or painting, find an outlet that works the best for you. Art can be your greatest release. Emotional release is so gratifying and helpful, and art is the best medium for it.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS
It’s important to understand, that humor is the kindness that we all ought to embrace in our lives, to make others happy, and ourselves too. Humor is amazing if it’s not being used to hide your feelings. Laughter is the best when it’s genuine. Smile when you feel like it, not to wear as a mask to hide behind.

So don’t go on with your mask, take it off, talk to somebody, write to somebody, or maybe, just sing to yourself. It really helps!

Story by Sheily Gupta