I smile under stress, when I am nervous or scared. People always tell me I must be an extremely happy person because I am smiling all the time, but I’m not. My cousin was in a car accident a few months ago. When my mom got home I told her and it took me a half hour to convince her it wasn’t a joke. She thought I was kidding because I had a huge grin on my face. I felt horrible! And that wasnt the frist or the last time it happened either. I just want to it stop, but I feel like I have no control. It is not that I don’t care or am happy about the stuff I am “smiling” about. Please help.


3186 days ago
The smiling response and fear response are actually very similar, biologically speaking. I know that Desmond Morris has written some interesting stuff about smiling and fear. Morris, a zoologist, believes that the smile evolved out of a fear signal, and by smiling, we are showing people that we are not aggressive. It's interesting and explains some of your reaction. It's similar with laughing. Do you know that laughing is a common response at funerals? I laughed once a long time ago and got embarrassed, but actually, it's how the body releases stress. The reason I'm saying this is so that you understand how your reaction isn't so "out there" and that you give yourself the option of 1) not feeling guilty and 2) not trying to change something that's actually pretty natural.

Instead of trying to force yourself to react differently, I'd suggest supplementing your reaction with a verbal explanation. You could just add, verbally "I smile when I'm under stress, but I never joke around about this kind of stuff because it's serious." That should work pretty well and save you some unnecessary confusion and embarrassment.

3182 days ago
Its important to also realize that you shouldnt feel horrible because you do this. This has now become a reaction in which you basically have no control over.

It is pretty natural, but if you feel after a time that you may need to change the smiling during traumatic events, consult a therapist, who may help give you more details in how to change it.