Fear of smiling

Of all my negative physical characteristics, my smile had to be the worst. Not that it was so horrible in itself; its just that I was more self-conscious about this part of my appearance than any other physical attribute. It was so bad that Im sure it could have been classified as a separate phobia – fear of smiling.

I had convinced myself that mine was the weirdest, most hideous smile on the planet. I was sure that people would comment on that fact had I the nerve to actually perform this most basic human function in public. There was no way it would happen – I just couldnt relax enough to try.

In actual fact, I could not even smile in a mirror, in the privacy of my own home, without feeling like the local weirdo. It was not a natural function for me – far from it. If I forced myself to smile in private, it looked forced and psychotic looking. I wondered how people would react to seeing that.

As a result, I was extremely self-conscious of letting anyone see me laugh or smile – even when the situation called for it. Many social encounters demand a least a smirk or a chuckle now and then, however, I was as stone-faced as they come – a real downer.

This was a huge problem because it automatically labeled me a social misfit before people even had a chance to talk to me. My cold look and the fact that my expression never changed, said stay away┬Ł – and they did.

Why would anyone make the effort to get to know someone like that, when there were all kinds of laughing, carefree, and likeable people around – People that were a little less serious, more interesting and, most likely, a lot more fun?

I struggled for a long time with this problem. It ranked way up there with the worst of my social anxiety traits. To this day, I still feel a little self-conscience about my smile – it depends on the situation.

As part of my new appearance improvement, I needed to work on my smile above all else. Ill never forget the first few times I experimented with different expressions in front of the mirror – I thought my face was going to break. Really, it felt so unnatural, I thought that I would damage something – and talk about strange looking. I felt embarrassed, even though I was alone in the room.

3 thoughts on “Fear of smiling

  1. Yourenotalone

    Hang in there Drew, you’re not alone. I have SA as well, and I understand. Thank you for sharing your journal.

  2. Me2

    I also have this fear. Now that I think of it, a lot of my social anxiety stemmed from this inability to smile and give pleasant facial feedback to social circumstances. Even when I’m on my own watching a funny television program, I find it extremely awkward to smile and i feel haunted by an image of a horrid smile coming from my face.

    Funny thing is one day, I was getting a photo taken and felt all the anxieties while smiling… I looked at the photo and realized that my smile looked pretty normal… slightly hesitant, but quite normal in comparison to what I believed my smile looked like in my internal state of anxiety. Which is when i realized the problem was with my self-image of smiling. not the actual smile! So now Im trying to work on my self-image of smiling imagining that it looks great, and through those positive feedback thoughts, gradually easing a normal smile. Im not completely over the smile anxiety, but ive been improving…

    do you have any of your own tips on overcoming this aspect of anxiety?

  3. Drew

    Thanks for the comments. I wish I could tell you that I have a few good techniques for overcoming fear of smiling.

    Personally, I practice smiling in front of a mirror and I also use a camera to take snaps while I’m smiling. Sounds weird, but this really allows me to see things for what they are – and amazingly, my smile is not as freakish as I make it out to be.

    Using a digital camera, I literally took hundreds of pics of different looks (smiles). I then concentrated on the ones that looked the best and avoided the ones that made me look weird.

    Then I practiced like mad for the longest time. My smile improved – honestly. Today, I’m not that self-conscious about this aspect of social anxiety.

    Does that make sense? I hope so

    Take care

    Drew

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