Jackie has severe fibromyalgia. She has been ill for many years but I had no idea just how ill. She always visits with a happy smile and a laugh. She almost never complains, and when she does complain, she minimizes her symptoms. Jackie never thought her pain was significant. She felt it was normal to have the amount of pain she has.
Jackie’s parents have anxiety and anxiety leads to control issues. They have therefore obsessive traits, expect perfection, and hard work is a must. They adhere to these expectations and expect the same from their children. Because of this, as a child, Jackie has a high shame response. Because we ARE never good enough.
Jackie is like me, lucky enough to be born with a happy temperament. She responded to the high expectations with vigor and was eager to please her parents. Up to now, this has led to people pleasing.
People pleasers usually expect more from themselves and blame themselves more. Jackie has therefore done everything she could for herself to get better. Asking for help, makes her feel shame, or that she is inconveniencing others.
Where does Jackie’s laughter come from?
- When she is surprised or caught unawares – a form of stress.
- When she is told something and then realizes, Wow, that’s right. Immediately Jackie thinks, Why didn’t I think of that? Laughter then is a shame response.
- When she is uncomfortable, she will laugh, especially around other people, because she doesn’t want them to be uncomfortable or to realize she is uncomfortable.
- Jackie shares her mother had a very difficult childhood and she mostly showed anger or laughed. Her mother was emotionally shut down to cope with her childhood. Maybe Jackie needed excess emotions to penetrate her mother’s barriers.
- Of course she laughs when she feels joy, but most of her laughter is to cover up her discomfort.
I am sure you can find other reasons for laughter. Laughter is very good for you, but not if you are using it to mask pain, emotional or physical.
Jackie is going to practice Step 2. Changing from “preparing for danger” breath to healing breath will help her notice when she is stressed – laughing too much, talking too fast, or too loudly.
Jackie will examine her reactions with curiosity, not shame or judgement. Feel your emotions in your body.
Notice the moment when you laugh or when you are speaking too quickly or too loudly.
The journey begins.