People laugh at my nervous body language. - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy

People laugh at my nervous body language.


It's horrible. I feel terrible. Whenever I have a great desire to face others or to strain a smile, somehow, the other person always ends up giggling. It's completely demeaning. Also, when sometimes I try to be interesting, the other person always has an amused look on his or her face. I want to be interesting, not amusing. I hate this. What do you suggest I do about it?

I hate being laughed at because I feel that these people are going out of their way to make me look funny or stupid.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 05:50 PM
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Are you sure you're interpreting their reactions correctly? How old are these people? Usually mature people won't laugh at you directly.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks scaredtolive. I know I am not interpreting their reactions correctly, but I guess I'm just a big complainer. -sigh-. You see, most people in Asia are serious. When I came from Asia to america, many people started to laugh at what I say, but I would interpret this laughter as trying to belittle me. I guess it would be best to remind myself that it's OK to have people laugh at me. I tend to misinterpret lots of body language. Even when I ask people what they mean by laughter and they say that it's nothing, I still get paranoid. I guess.... it's just a blank area of my mind that I need to fill. I also have trouble talking in context and speaking my mind. Even though most of the time it gets me out of trouble with people, it's uncomfortable trying to initiate it. Thanks for telling me that I'm misinterpreting things. Every person who tells me about this counts to my recovery.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by creativedissent View Post
Thanks scaredtolive. I know I am not interpreting their reactions correctly, but I guess I'm just a big complainer. -sigh-. You see, most people in Asia are serious. When I came from Asia to america, many people started to laugh at what I say, but I would interpret this laughter as trying to belittle me. I guess it would be best to remind myself that it's OK to have people laugh at me. I tend to misinterpret lots of body language. Even when I ask people what they mean by laughter and they say that it's nothing, I still get paranoid. I guess.... it's just a blank area of my mind that I need to fill. I also have trouble talking in context and speaking my mind. Even though most of the time it gets me out of trouble with people, it's uncomfortable trying to initiate it. Thanks for telling me that I'm misinterpreting things. Every person who tells me about this counts to my recovery.
Alot of people are pricks but even most of the pricks don't try to offend people right to their face. Most people are mature enough to be curtious no matter what they might be thinking. Again this depends on the age of the people your talking about also. Is shyness or quietness seen as a positive quality in Asian culture?
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for not answering. Yeah. the people who laugh are my age, which is college undergrad age.

Yeah, I mean, most people in Asian (or I should say Chinese) culture don't express their opinions openly. If they did, they might get laughed at (in a condescending way) if the idea wasn't "good" or "practical" enough. At least, my dad's side of the family does it. I mean, my dad calls funny people "stupid idiots" a lot. Maybe I got this from my Dad. I constantly I try to make my sentences and writing perfect in fear that people will start to laugh at me. What I totally didn't expect was the fact that they laughed at seemingly nothing. This made me feel self-conscious of my entire self.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:15 PM
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People laugh at my body language too! I use to have this one friend who would actually mimic me when I would get nervous, she just thought it was hilarious. The worst part about it was that she knew she was hurting my feelings but she still did it anyways.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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She wasn't a very good friend. I'm glad you're not friends with her anymore.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:44 PM
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People laugh at my body language too! I use to have this one friend who would actually mimic me when I would get nervous, she just thought it was hilarious. The worst part about it was that she knew she was hurting my feelings but she still did it anyway.
Well anybody who laughs at somebody right to their face should be dismissed as *******. This person didn't sound like much of a friend.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:49 PM
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Sorry for not answering. Yeah. the people who laugh are my age, which is college undergrad age.

Yeah, I mean, most people in Asian (or I should say Chinese) culture don't express their opinions openly. If they did, they might get laughed at (in a condescending way) if the idea wasn't "good" or "practical" enough. At least, my dad's side of the family does it. I mean, my dad calls funny people "stupid idiots" a lot. Maybe I got this from my Dad. I constantly I try to make my sentences and writing perfect in fear that people will start to laugh at me. What I totally didn't expect was the fact that they laughed at seemingly nothing. This made me feel self-conscious of my entire self.
Hmm Asian culture sounds like a culture I'd thrive in. I've only been laughed at directly once when I was in the 5th grade and a punch in the face quickly resolved that problem. I wouldn't recommend doing that but if they do it again and you really think they're making fun at you then I would say something to them about it. Chances our they feel like idiots. If you don't want to say anything to them then try not to be around them.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that's true. I've said it to about 3 people. Perhaps I could tell more. Actually, yeah. I mean... I guess when it comes to your point - like, things you have to say, most people don't question. But when it comes to body language, I mean, I got stares in Asia, too. Just not laughs.
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 07:54 PM
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Instead of laughing I've had people, mostly cocky boys, who would notice my nervousness and just stare at me. I would even tell them to stop staring at me and they would just blankly stare at me. Then I would get even more nervous and turn really red and try to look away.
In other words, I understand what you're going through, sort of.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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A big mystery: Why do we laugh?


Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor
By Robert Provine, Ph.D.
Special to msnbc.com
May 27, 1999 - Laughter is part of the universal human vocabulary. All members of the human species understand it. Unlike English or French or Swahili, we don’t have to learn to speak it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh.

One of the remarkable things about laughter is that it occurs unconsciously. You don’t decide to do it. While we can consciously inhibit it, we don’t consciously produce laughter. That’s why it’s very hard to laugh on command or to fake laughter. (Don’t take my word for it: Ask a friend to laugh on the spot.)

Laughter provides powerful, uncensored insights into our unconscious. It simply bubbles up from within us in certain situations.

Very little is known about the specific brain mechanisms responsible for laughter. But we do know that laughter is triggered by many sensations and thoughts, and that it activates many parts of the body.

When we laugh, we alter our facial expressions and make sounds. During exuberant laughter, the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk are involved. Laughter also requires modification in our pattern of breathing.

We also know that laughter is a message that we send to other people. We know this because we rarely laugh when we are alone (we laugh to ourselves even less than we talk to ourselves).

Laughter is social and contagious. We laugh at the sound of laughter itself. That’s why the Tickle Me Elmo doll is such a success — it makes us laugh and smile.

The first laughter appears at about 3.5 to 4 months of age, long before we’re able to speak. Laughter, like crying, is a way for a preverbal infant to interact with the mother and other caregivers.

Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor; it is about relationships between people. To find out when and why people laugh, I and several undergraduate research assistants went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over a 10-year period, we studied over 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter.

We found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements such as “Hey John, where ya been?” “Here comes Mary,” “How did you do on the test?” and “Do you have a rubber band?”. These certainly aren’t jokes.

We don’t decide to laugh at these moments. Our brain makes the decision for us. These curious “ha ha ha’s” are bits of social glue that bond relationships.

Curiously, laughter seldom interrupts the sentence structure of speech. It punctuates speech. We only laugh during pauses when we would cough or breathe.

An evolutionary perspective
We believe laughter evolved from the panting behavior of our ancient primate ancestors. Today, if we tickle chimps or gorillas, they don’t laugh “ha ha ha” but exhibit a panting sound. That’s the sound of ape laughter. And it’s the root of human laughter.

Apes laugh in conditions in which human laughter is produced, like tickle, rough and tumble play, and chasing games. Other animals produce vocalizations during play, but they are so different that it’s difficult to equate them with laughter. Rats, for example, produce high-pitch vocalizations during play and when tickled. But it’s very different in sound from human laughter.

When we laugh, we’re often communicating playful intent. So laughter has a bonding function within individuals in a group. It’s often positive, but it can be negative too. There’s a difference between “laughing with” and “laughing at.” People who laugh at others may be trying to force them to conform or casting them out of the group.

No one has actually counted how much people of different ages laugh, but young children probably laugh the most. At ages 5 and 6, we tend to see the most exuberant laughs. Adults laugh less than children, probably because they play less. And laughter is associated with play.

We have learned a lot about when and why we laugh, much of it counter-intuitive. Work now underway will tell us more about the brain mechanisms of laughter, how laughter has evolved and why we’re so susceptible to tickling — one of the most enigmatic of human behaviors.

Robert Provine, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is completing a book entitled “Laughter” that is scheduled to be published this fall by Little, Brown and Company.

© 2009 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints

--------------------------------------------------------------

It guess it may simply be due to the fact that people here are less serious. I would love to take it as a good thing - I mean, who wants to be serious? No one laughs in China day to day because no one is happy.
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missgymnast91 View Post
Instead of laughing I've had people, mostly cocky boys, who would notice my nervousness and just stare at me. I would even tell them to stop staring at me and they would just blankly stare at me. Then I would get even more nervous and turn really red and try to look away.
In other words, I understand what you're going through, sort of.
Right... it's the exact same problem with me - staring and laughing. I hate it.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 09:18 PM
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In conversations I think the problem is 'trying' too hard. When you make it very obvious that you want other people's approval, you lose their respect. The goal is to become comfortable with who you are and what your opinions are and you'll have to 'try' less and become more natural. I need to work on this too

As far as body language...I think it's a self esteem issue. I have serious body language problems too...when I stop to think why I look so nervous all the time, it's because in my head I'm going over all the things I think are wrong with me, and I get very self conscious about everything.

As far as the whole asian vs western thing is concerned...I'm asian too and I don't think it's an issue. there are tons of asian exchange students at my school and they have zero problems socially, same with the asian americans. I was born and raised here my entire life and I'm a freak. I think you're blaming the wrong thing. Does asian culture contribute somewhat? probably...but not as much as you think.
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 09:58 PM
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How is your fluency with english? I'll be honest and say if it's not very good, then people are probably going to find your talking humorous. It's just the way people are when they are immature. The good thing though is that they probably do like you, but they aren't used to hearing the language being spoken from someone who might have a strong accent and doesn't speak english fluently. With your body language, I would say to practice talking in the mirror and see if you're doing anything that you wouldn't normally notice.
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post #16 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 10:16 PM
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A lot of people laugh when they don't know how to respond. I "laugh" at things I don't think is funny all the time. It's a way of participating in a conversation. Laughing can be kind of polite in a way.

I think you're misinterpreting a lot of poeple's reactions to you.
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post #17 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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I agree that maybe it wasn't Asian culture. I dunno. I guess I felt so trapped with this that I forgot to actually reason. It's scary. I mean, you don't know who you are anymore. At least I felt that way.

As for fluency in english, english is my native language. I dunno. It guess it was my roommate laughing whenever I screwed up practicing at the guitar or made a mistake. I thought it was extremely annoying. Since I was adjusting to a new country yet had social phobia at the same time, I panicked and overgeneralized that EVERYONE here would laugh at my mistakes. Therefore, I became paranoid whenever somebody laughed in the vicinity. I became paranoid that somehow they would hate me.

I just learned to deal with it within the last two hours, probably from talking on here and looking up the definition of humor. I'd say it's pretty liberating. I am not afraid of my roommate's laughter anymore. Laughter is just a reflection of the other person, not me. Thank you guys for posting and sharing your thoughts on here with me.
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post #18 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-25-2009, 06:14 AM
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I know that Americans often laugh to diffuse tension in a situation, and to show that "You're okay, you're nervous but it's because you're being too serious. I'm going to make a joke or laugh to deflect some of the tension coming from you."

This is definitely a culture where funniness is revered, and I think there are some people, like your friend, who may have been trying to use humor to get you to relax, which had the total opposite effect! People use humor here sometimes to hurt, but also sometimes to get you to laugh too, and just relax. It takes a lot of experience with the culture to know the difference, and I think that may be a little bit of what you're running into. People who don't have SA don't realize how hard this behavior is for those who do.

People frequently smirk at me as I talk, mostly because I feel so wound up that my speech is often scattered. It's hard, but don't take their emotions on you. As you learn to relax physically while speaking their need to respond with laughter (whether to sooth you and themselves, or just because they feel compelled to) will go away.
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post #19 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-25-2009, 11:20 AM
 
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You could read up on body language, relaxation etc.
Some days I can walk around relaxed, almost as if I don't have S.A.
Then some days I'm really tense, my heads wobbles around, I can't walk properly, my voice comes out weak etc.
What you described has happened to me(people laughing at my nervousness) many times..and I haven't got over it yet.
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post #20 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-14-2010, 11:46 AM
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I know all too well what you mean. As if it wasn't bad enough that its so hard for us to smile and carry on "normal" conversations with people when/if we don't want to talk, but then having someone laugh at you for trying your best really sucks, and it happens to me all the time
What I really hate is not only do strangers laugh at the things I say due to the awkward/forced way they sound, (sometimes I use odd or overly formal vocabulary to make matters worse because I'm always searching for the right thing to say) but friends and even family do this to me. I don't want to tell them how bad it makes me feel because I think it will make me look even more weird/sensitive than I already am. Its hard when you can't even depend on family to be supportive and like you for who you are.
The only suggestion I have is to not let the laughter get to you. Who are they, what are they worth, to judge you in such a way anyway? Easier said than done I know, and I'm working on this myself. I used to not care what people thought of me and I was much happier, but the older I get the worse my SA gets. It seems like embracing it and giving the middle finger to everyone else is the only thing that works for me, because everything else sure doesn't lol
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