What we show we don’t feel an example of Sushant Singh Rajput
Indian actor Sushant Singh’s untimely death left the country shocked and disturbed. Medical reports seem to reveal that he was under depression since the last six months. If that was so, did his close friends and family members keep checking up on him to know how he was doing? There are stages of depression, and the way a person behaves when he is experiencing various phases is different.
But the question for the article today is, as alert family members and responsible friends, can we make out if our loved one is showing an emotion which he doesn’t feel? Or more importantly, hiding his feelings from us? Are there body language tells which we can focus on, so that we can intervene and aid them with professional help, if required? So our team dug out situations where people try and hide their true feelings.
For this, we studied situations where the camera could capture spontaneous reactions, and what better arena than where winners are being declared! So we dug out video clips from different sports and reality show contests, as also the beauty contests. And we highlight below situations where people are trying to hide their true emotions, and how the same is revealed through their body language. In the pictures, we have left the time stamp visible for you, in case you wish to visit the original video clip and watch how their reactions look in real life.
According to Paul Ekman, masking is when “you stimulate an emotion that is not felt, to cover or conceal another emotion that is felt”. Ekman cites examples of when people show a masking smile: like at a nurse when she comes to take blood, submission to anything unpleasant in order to ward off attack, to make a tense situation comfortable, or in extreme cases, a depressed person may show smile to mask that he is thinking of suicide. In the case of the situations that we analysed for this article where does a masking smile pop up? it is often visible on the face of the runner up athlete who is trying to look cheerful and not show that deep down she is sad that she did not make it to the gold.
The female in red has a masking smile. Her friend in pink won the gold, not her
Same day, two teams. One won the other was runner up. Can you spot the victory team?
In everyday situations also, we often see masked smiles when people try to reinforce a different feeling to others whereas inside they are feeling something very different. Understanding that a smile is a masking smile might be challenging just by looking at a person since a lot of us also display a polite social smile in order not to be rude. So you would need to observe the situation or context in which a person is showing a smile. And see the rest of the body. If the body is agreeing with the smile, and is relaxed then the smile could be a genuine.
Pole vault second runner up showing victory but with the masking smile
Often, when a person is not committed to the body language they are showing, you will see a delay. What this means is, if a person does not mean to show the emotion or feeling that they are trying to show, the timing will be odd. Supposing someone does not understand a joke you cracked. Either they will laugh too soon, or they might smile after the joke is long ended, and so on. Genuine reactions come up spontaneously, as soon as a situation makes us feel a certain way. And this is not limited to the smiling, but any body language signal per se. We have observed people banging on tables with a delay. This tells us that the banging was more a way to prove a point. The person wasn’t really as angry as they wanted to show they were.
Miss Columbia smiles in Miss Universe 2016 but response is delayed
Here in the picture is a second runner up who shows us that she is accepting her defeat graciously by smiling and walking up to thank the host but there is a lag between announcement of her name and the display of this body language. (In Miss Universe, for the final three contestants, not making it to final two is as good as defeat in all the videos we watched)
When we are experiencing stress or discomfort, we have a tendency to sooth ourselves by self touch or rubbing. Evaluate your own self, you might be indulging in either hair stroking, chin rubbing, fiddling with your ring, the list can be long. These activites are actually useful as they release soothing chemicals in our body and help us calm down. But if these signals of nervousness are long and rather too frequent in people you know, that should be a sign of worry.
Contestants vigorously rubbing hands to ease stress during result announcement Miss Universe 2018
There are other signals which also help to understand when a person is trying to hide their emotions, especially when they are feeling sad, since in cases where depression is setting in, signs of hiding sadness is what you want to observe. For example, lowered eyebrows, explains Joe Navarro, signals that the person is not feeling enthusiastic or excited. Most of us, at some point or the other in our conversation do raise our eyebrows when we mean what we say. Some of us do this more often than others and that makes us look excited and bubbly. However, when people have lowered eyebrows for a prolonged period of time, even when they are supposedly conversing naturally with you, it should raise an antenna that something is bothering them.
The best is to know what your loved ones express when they are care free and happy and how this becomes different when they feel low. Sometimes, in today’s era we are too busy with our own selves, or with our gadgets to be actually observing people we converse with. When these are people who matter to us, our face time with them should be long and indulging. Only then can we show each other how much we care.
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