Friday, January 29, 2016

Are Americans Forced to Act Happy Too Much?

some of the philosophies that cause us trouble. {the message being if you got a lot of weeds, it's your fault}

I sometimes wonder if my real ethnic ancestry is one where the people tend to be more emotional.

You know wave your hands, cry and write sad poetry. Some groups of people in the world are more known for open expressive emotions. Some will say this is a nature vs. nuture thing. Maybe this is why I didn't fit in with my closed mouth stoic narcissistic family. There was never any hand waving or open laughter or much expression.

I imagine myself living in a small village where I could have been an artist, and shared emotions from good to bad. I don't know where this idealized view of life came from. Maybe some will think I am cracked with these weird visions of life. Am I Hungarian? I'm guessing based on my looks. What am I? I once thought whatever I am, it doesn't fit in with the people I grew up with.

Same for American society. This place is getting crazy.

There is all this focus in America of being the closed mouth, smiling, happy, "winner". It goes along with the "Think Positive" stuff I've talked about on this blog.  I wanted to share some comments that other posts wrote when I posted this article:

Why You Never Tell People Your Problems. 

One commenter shared some ideas I totally agree with:

WELL, I AGREE that we need to have boundaries; but you are saying, because yer problems are not solveable, you can't get comfort and sympathy from friends.

THAT HAS become an "American-problem," I read in a depression work-book.this society wants everyone to not look unhappy,but BE CHEERFUL all the time.the book said,that's why we have such alcoholism, drug addiction,depression,and self-destructive behaviors. this society is WRONG. --IT WAS ALWAYS OK,YEARS AGO,for communities to share problems,get support,give comfort,help each other--And BE THERE for each other. NOW you have to call a "support line" or "suicide-help-line" and talk to them.there's often no family support--and/or community support. the SOCIETY IS SICK. SICK SICK!!you should still be able to get comforting, sympathy,support from friends, clergy,rabbis, for yer problems. it is the society that's sick and cruel,not you. Even the depression book said that!!our society is sick,.and cruel!!hey, you want to call me,or complain on my blog, go ahead, i tell you my pains, you can tell me yours.i am not afraid to hear painful stuff.And a generous,caring person(s) does not flee from the pain of friends.When we share this stuff, it becomes less.I believe that. you could not talk to more reserved folks, but there are people who care, besides the scared people around. :)

I agree with the above. This is one reason America are one of the most depressed nations on earth. To have problems means you are a bad person. To be "negative" is the worse sin you can commit as you are told you must ignore what is going around you and always "make the best of it".  Yes here too, I'll tell you my pains and you tell me yours.  Many of us know what it is to be judged for not being happier and "together". Happiness has become a race in America pure and simple. We all want to be happy don't we but when happiness is a race isn't part of the point being lost?

Most of us melancholics, already inside struggle thinking, "We should be happier".  Inside we question the dark clouds that encroach upon our hearts. Sometimes we get our times, appreciating what we can. I appreciate my husband, and like doing art and watching movies, but then it gets tiring, we do get sad, and it's scarier being sad, when the world around you demands that you present a certain look and where honest emotions are so disdained.  I do things like take pictures of butterflies and try and enjoy what I can.

As a disabled person too, there is this unwritten contract, that I must always be an "inspiration" to the healthy and not overburden people with my fears and pain.. Depression as a whole is getting worse because everyone feels ALONE in their problems. How come there's no other poor people for me to talk to in person?

Many people are boozing it up and drugging it, to kill emotions inside so they can keep the demanded smile on their face and be well liked even though they are dying inside.  The commenter is right, now people pour their hearts out on support lines to strangers. They pour their hearts out on blogs like this one.

Many families in America especially narcissistic ones are no longer places of support and comfort but braggart fests where the cost of admission is an equal income and bragging about trophy, children, vacations and more. At least in the last Depression in America, you could admit a depression was going on. My commenter continued:

"Yes,if you're Jewish,"kvetching", complaining, is common ok among Jewish people.Everyone does it; you don't get condemned.Kvetching is almost THERAPUTIC.To kvetch,is to get the pain out,and having kvetched,the pain is less.People who keep stuff inside get sick from it.---is Jewish reasoning.

Research on surgery patients looked at pre-surgery patients who complained,were emotional,ect, before surgery, had better after surgery results, did better.Surgery patients who were very stoic,calm,said nothing,before surgery, did not do quite as well with after-surgery physical coping. So even surgery-research on complaining yielded these results. If you live in a culture where "kvetchng" back and forth between people is deemed NORMAL,and ok, you may have a culture that helps everyone get support,and catharsis,and everyone is mentally and maybe even physically healthier. 

Look at the physical health of the stressed, hard working person who is VERY WASP, very "corporate-modern",and always keeps up a happy face.Chances are,he may drink too much,or even be a secret drinker. Maybe he gets HIGH a lot with friends,even coke.His heart-health,blood pressure,and other physical problems, iike ulcers, indigestion,insomnia, ect., may not be very good. Having to "act happy,and cheerful" all the time is very wearing. A kvetching-culture may be a lot healthier.--for both the complainer and the sympathetic ear. And it works well both ways.The CONNECTION is healthy.

Oh this is true too. The "keeping face" stuff is making people sadder. When you always have to keep a front on and can't get real, how is that any good for anyone? Here too boundaries are important but now in our narcissistic culture even just admitting you have a problem is seen as a weakness to be preyed upon by narcissists. People aren't as relaxed or open with each other anymore. In the work world, yes, the "professionals" are told they must always appear in control. One thing that is happening is problems now get shoved under the carpet because people are scared of complaining or "looking bad' or making a mistake. What would a society be like where people could complain?

Here is another issue, one commenter raised that us ACONs can deal with.

"I have mixed feelings here. Part of the reason I've hit this problem as an ACON and trauma survivor is simply that most people are used to a 'normal life' that I don't share at all, and a lot of them are easily shocked at violations of that norm, especially when it comes to families. The most innocent conversation topic can be full of landmines. Someone mentions parents? Mine are dead. Oh, you're sorry? Well, my NF's death was overall a pretty positive event for me... My only alternative to letting all this spill out is to not say anything about my life at all.."

I wrote back a longer response but this is something I deal with too. One thing I believe that caused me trouble socially around here, is I admitted being an ACON in a local self help group. This was a mistake. Even other people struggling with depression even severe depression who have had normal loving families don't get us. During normal social small talk and other times, it can be tough. People are talking about their families, their children, their vacations, their jobs, and I've had that problem too, "What do I talk about?" I can talk about art a bit and like to listen to people talk about themselves but then what do I tell them? There's so many landmines and so much "bad" stuff showing--I'm on a walker, have a very disfiguring illness as bad as the Elephant Man in some ways. Just being there I'm already a Debbie Downer. Add in struggles with depression and I'm faking it to make it more then half the time.

Then add in the "Be positive or else" edicts they are unloading on people and it seems people are afraid of anything that is real or different or "too intense" and it makes social interaction harder and more difficult.

One thing that has occurred to me is the troubles of my last 8 years was having a life I built be dismantled and it's been hard to build another life. Back then my family was a non-issue, I was VLC and kept them off the radar screen but socially I could appear normal by saying "Oh yes I saw my mother at Thanksgiving". This NC process has been harder because in the last few years I have been dealing with abuse issues and the rest, I kept in the fog for years before but then it became more on my mind. I compartmentalized things during those earlier years and acted like things were normal when they were far from it.

Socially I have now taken the tactic of just letting people believe my family is deceased with new people. I don't want them there standing in the room anymore. They aren't in my life. Some may see this as dishonest but it's easier. I have to manage more of my own boundaries. In my husband's case, most of his family IS deceased as a result of World War II and his parents both dying in their mid 60s. Some local acquaintances and friends have asked me "Why don't you two have a family?" because I live in a very family focused area, where even single and childless people have cousins, aunts, uncles and others. Saying that one is estranged is actually too much information for most.

Years ago I wrote that I had a rule never to tell anyone you were an ACON unless you have known them for two years, and even now I am realizing that is not safe and not even many "friends" will even get it and people will indeed see you as the problem instead of your rotten family. People will naturally think, well if their own family hated them what good are they?. Our trauma and PTSD results and other things upset people. They do not understand and well, that is one thing I struggle with, knowing in some cases, I let a few in too far. When I am around people who can admit their faults, things for me socially are far better, but in a "saving face" group of people, I'm screwed because too many problems SHOW even through my physical body alone. If someone believes in the think positive edicts, things can fail there too because I feel like every word is being put through a screen.

It does feel harder to get close to people then it did when I was younger. I am not sure what this is about or if it is from some of my own problems, but I am old enough to feel like society changed in an insidious way. People could hang looser years ago. You could complain about your job or say the weather stinks or "Man I am broke this week" without judgment. You could be more real. Now it's like everything is measured and scripted and you always have to appear on top. It's kind of scary.

When Life itself in a narcissistic society becomes a "Bragging Contest" where one's own happiness is to be measured as to whether you are a good person or not. That is causing a lot of this nonsense. Did you know the Bible warns about the "pride of life"? [1 John 2:16] It's something I have thought about in regards to this. Happiness is not supposed to be a contest or a demand, in fact it ruins that happiness. It's like the smiles of people in a cult, "keeping sweet". If you don't like me because I am too melancholic, then that's no help to anyone.


  1. When I asked women about getting a mammogram most of them told me to check online about it. I knew they had one and just wanted their personal experience but I got the sense this was way too personal, although I didn't feel like it was. I asked one woman how long does the "squish down" take, and I guess this was too much.

    Maybe I just don't know how to act and who to talk to about things. I didn't think the mammogram was a personal issue, I really didn't. But I did get some wide eyes and stares.

    Overall the experience of talking to women about it was that I got the impression that this is not something to be talked about. Go online. It is not a happy topic to be talked about.

    1. You know just 20 years ago a topic like that would be no big deal. I must be getting old or something so even just talking about a mammogram squish down is too much. Yeah that is scary.

  2. It is weird how you mentioned bragging contest. I said the very same thing last night and I didn't see your post yet. Our tv picture is gone. We have no tv now, and while watching the hubby research online about buying a new tv, he was looking at some very expensive ones. I told him that I didn't want to be part of a narcissistic bragging party contest, so we are choosing one that is practical, if you can call a tv practical I guess.

    1. Yes its all about bragging. Hope you find a good TV. The keeping up with the Joneses nonsense definitely was narcissist driven.