Why do people seem so scared of showing any negative emotion, or showing a negative side, and is this connected to the rise of mental health issues? This article looks into these questions to try and ascertain if this is so and why.
I find it strange that the vast majority of people, seem scared of showing or displaying any form of negative emotion or character traits. However the very same people will jump to the most negative conclusions. According to studies, around 80% of what people think is negative.
With this information is mind, I can’t help but think about Carl Jung’s theory of projection and the shadow. Is it the case that the more people deny the negative aspects of themselves, the more they project out those suppressed negative aspects onto others?
The vast majority of people simply wish to conform to social norms for obvious reasons, it’s an easier life. The norms have become to suppress negative emotion, and to show extroverted traits, particularly humour and banter. To show negative emotion often leads to the negative judgement of others, to risk being alienated from certain groups and even society.
Many people even avoid subject matters that could be considered somewhat on the serious side, which are not necessarily negative. Yet if the conversation starts tilting away from the social norms, most people will avoid a particular subject. The pull of conformity and the fear of alienation will silence views, subjects and even prevent people expressing a healthy emotional balance.
The common persona which is known as the (conformity archetype) in Jungian psychology, is that of extroversion and positive emotion. So negative emotion and traits are then cast out from the persona to an area of the unconscious mind, Jung referred to as the shadow.
Sometimes if you get talking to someone about a subject that is more serious or deeper, you will see that positive emotion/extrovert persona slip. Sometimes just for a brief moment. You occasionally get a glimpse of what lies beneath, and it can often be of a dark or depressing nature. Strong personas are there for displaying certain traits, and also to hide things.
However some people have less reliance on personas. With some people, what you see is what you get(mostly). These people are the none conformists, and a minority, they don’t do fake, even if it causes them problems.
The more the shadow is denied, the more those people will see it in others. Is that what I’m seeing? Many people will not be able to relate to this, or see it. However to those of us who don’t conform to the masses, and who are not so focused on fitting in, will be aware of the negative preconceptions that others project onto them. Those none conformists will be misjudged by the majority in often negative ways.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it’s embodied in the individual’s life, the blacker and denser it is.” Carl Jung.
Humour/Banter & Avoidance
I also believe humour and positive emotion is also used as a distraction and a type of avoidance. It can be used in a way similar to drugs and alcohol. It’s used as a temporary feel good fix, laughing releases endorphins, a natural drug. It distracts from problems, which can be good. However it also distracts from meaningful conversations.
Humour and banter is a form of instant gratification, similar to other forms, such as alcohol and fast food consumption. However it’s a little more complicated because it directly ties into social status and the innate instincts of conformity and to climb up hierarchies.
In the western world we suffer from the extrovert ideal. It’s a popular ideal, and strongly connected to social status. This seeking of the extrovert ideal contributes and justifies the avoidance and feel good factors that people get from laughter/banter.
Connected to the rise of mental health issues?
Because our society has shifted so strongly to the extrovert ideal, and the displaying of positive emotion, people tend to hide their psychological issues. They are afraid of negative judgments, so they develop strong personas that hide their issues and troubles. It’s our society, and its popular beliefs that has in part lead to the suppression of negative emotion.
People suffering with anxiety, depression and other psychological issues seems to be on the rise. This perhaps suggests there is a problem with the avoidance and suppression of displaying negative emotion. Has the western world made a mistake in making extroversion the cultural ideal?
Who should we be more afraid of, those that show their demons, or those that suppress them?