I am 16 year old and a sophomore in high school. I don’t know how it started, but I have this problem that whenever I am nervous I laugh uncontrollably. In the last 2 years it has actually got me in trouble with my parents and teachers. It is not intentional, it is just that when I feel anxious or nervous I start to laugh a lot, nervously laugh. Afterwards I feel guilty and ashamed but when, it is happening I just can’t control it.
First of all, I want you to know that you are not the only person that has this problem. It is actually common. I know many people that laugh when they’re anxious, nervous, stressed out, or embarrassed – even as adults.
I think the key is communication. When this happens to you, try to take a deep breath, understand where you’re at, the situation at hand and how the other person might feel.
If that does not work, then I would suggest you kindly say something like, “I know it looks like I’m being disrespectful by laughing, but I’m not. Sometimes when I am uncomfortable, nervous or anxious, I laugh. I don’t mean to, it’s just an anxious reaction. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, angered you, (whatever the situation might be). I am not trying to disrespect you, but the more angry/upset you get, the more anxious I get and laugh.”
Put this into your own words. I have found many times if you speak your truth people will listen. And you can also communicate this issue ahead of time to some people. If you feel that they are safe to speak to, you can tell them that this is an issue you deal with sometimes. That way, if it comes up in the future, they will know.
Here’s a little secret that not many people know about: When my father died and I sat with a friend to review his last arrangements, I sobbed. But I was so upset the sobbing turned into laughter. Uncontrollable laughter. The kind of laughter you would hear from a madman or the joker in a scary movie.
My friend was a little beside themself and asked me if I needed help. This of course made me laugh more tears roll down my eyes and I continued like this for 10 straight minutes just trying to give them a hand signal that I was OK. When it finally stop I explained that I was just so overwhelmed I don’t know what came out of me. Luckily the friend was very understanding and knew that it was just anxiety that needed to be released.
That experience happened a few more times ever since, but I have been brave enough to tell my closest friends that when I become too stressed out sometimes I just have to laugh.
I hope you will take this to heart, and then it helps. Keep an open mind and I’m sure everything will work out just fine.
Here’s hoping the next time you lose it with laughter it’s not a good movie!
All the best, Olivia
Do you have a question? Ask Olivia for advice about anything: live, love, work, school, and she will give you her honest advice on her Ask Olivia column.
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