People who are happy on the surface but struggling underneath often display these 13 specific behaviors

Ever met someone who’s always smiling, always cheerful, no matter what? They seem like they’re always in a good mood, right?

But have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, they’re not as happy as they seem?

Sometimes people who look really happy on the outside are actually having a tough time on the inside. They just don’t show it.

In this article, we’re going to look at 13 signs that someone might be struggling. Even if they seem really happy.

1) They’re always positive

You know that one friend who always seems to be in a good mood? The one who always has a smile ready, no matter what’s happening? Yep, that’s the one we’re talking about.

Being positive isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s great! But sometimes, people use positivity as a shield. They use it to hide their real feelings.

They might be feeling sad, anxious, or just plain old tired. But they don’t want to show it. So they put on a happy face and act like everything’s fine.

It’s not easy to spot this, because we’re used to seeing them happy. But if you notice that they’re always positive, even when things are clearly not going well… Well, they might be hiding something.

2) They avoid talking about themselves

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who always seems to turn the talk away from themselves? They might be quick to ask about your day or your problems, but when it comes to sharing their own experiences, they’re suddenly as slippery as a bar of soap.

It’s a subtle thing, really. They’re often great listeners – always there when you need to vent or need advice. But when the tables turn, they expertly steer the conversation away from their own lives.

This could be because they’re dealing with things they’d rather not discuss or they’re trying to keep their struggles under wraps. 

3) They seem to be busy all the time

Ever noticed how some people are always on the go? Like, they’re always doing something, no matter what. I’ve got a friend like that. He’s always working on a project, always ready to help others, always occupied with something or the other.

At first, I thought he was just super energetic and loved keeping busy. But then one day, he confessed. He told me that he keeps himself busy to distract from his own thoughts and feelings. It was his way of coping with the struggles he was facing internally.

Keeping busy isn’t a bad thing. But when it’s used as a cover-up for inner turmoil, it can lead to burnout and increased stress. 

4) They’re always trying to make others happy

This might sound like a trait of a genuinely nice person, and it often is! But sometimes, people who are struggling internally go out of their way to make others happy. They’ll bend over backwards to bring a smile to someone else’s face, sometimes at the expense of their own well-being.

Why do they do this? Making others happy can serve as a distraction from one’s own problems. It gives a sense of purpose and can even release ‘feel good’ hormones.

But when it becomes a habit, it might be a sign that they’re using this as a coping mechanism to avoid addressing their own issues.

5) They’re too hard on themselves

We all have that one person in our lives who always seems to be striving for perfection. They’re their own toughest critic, always pushing themselves to do better, be better. It’s inspiring, yes, but sometimes it’s also a little heartbreaking.

These folks are often battling a storm inside. They might be dealing with feelings of inadequacy, or they might feel like they’re just not good enough. And so, they push themselves harder and harder, hoping to silence these negative voices inside their heads.

You know what though? Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes, and that’s okay. That’s how we learn and grow. If you know someone who’s constantly being hard on themselves, remind them of this fact.

6) They rarely say no

There’s a friend of mine who never seems to say “no”. Need help with a project? She’s there. Need someone to talk to at 2 am? She’s your person. Want company for a boring event? Count her in. At first, I thought she was just being nice.

But as time went on, I realized that she hardly ever said “no” to anything.

One day, I asked her about it. She admitted that she finds it hard to say “no”, even when she’s already stretched too thin. She didn’t want to disappoint anyone or let them down. She was struggling with her own issues but was always ready to put them aside to help others.

Saying “yes” all the time can be exhausting and can leave little time for self-care, which is so important when you’re dealing with inner struggles. 

7) They sleep a lot or not at all

not getting enough sleep goodbye habits 1 People who are happy on the surface but struggling underneath often display these 13 specific behaviors

Sleep. It’s supposed to be a time for rest and rejuvenation. But for some people, it’s either an escape or a battleground.

Here’s the raw truth. Some folks who are dealing with inner struggles either sleep way too much or can barely sleep at all. It’s like they’re either trying to hide from the world in their dreams or they’re kept awake by their own thoughts and worries.

Sleeping too much can be a way of avoiding reality, of staying cocooned in a safer, dream-filled world. On the other hand, insomnia often comes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression.

8) They’re often lost in thought

Daydreaming is something we all do from time to time. It’s a pleasant escape from reality, a way to let our minds wander. But for some people, being lost in their thoughts is more than just daydreaming. It can be a sign of internal struggle.

Here’s an interesting fact: According to research, people spend an average of 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. However, for those dealing with internal struggles, this percentage can be significantly higher.

People who are dealing with inner turmoil often find themselves constantly lost in thought. They might seem distant or detached, and it’s because they’re wrestling with their own thoughts and emotions.

9) They’re masters at changing the subject

Ever noticed how some people are really good at changing the subject, especially when the conversation starts to get a bit personal?

I have a cousin who is an absolute pro at this. One minute we’re talking about his work, and the next minute he’s smoothly shifted the conversation to the latest football game or a movie he recently watched.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. But over time, I realized that he did this every time the conversation veered towards anything personal or emotional. When I finally asked him about it, he admitted that he was dealing with some stuff and didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.

10) They pull away from loved ones

Sometimes, when people are dealing with inner struggles, they pull away from others.  

Why? It’s because they want to shield their loved ones from the burden they’re shouldering.  This self-imposed isolation serves as a coping mechanism, allowing them to navigate their emotions without imposing on others. 

By prioritizing their own healing process, they strive to maintain relationships without adding to their loved ones’ emotional load. 

11) They have unexplained physical symptoms

Ever heard of somatization, a phenomenon where a broken heart manifests as physical pain? Surprisingly, psychological pain can materialize as tangible physical discomfort. Symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and chronic fatigue often signify underlying emotional distress. 

When someone consistently voices physical discomfort without an apparent cause, they may be contending with internal struggles. Don’t overlook this as mere imagination.  

12) They have drastic mood swings

Mood swings are more than just being happy one minute and sad the next. For some people, these swings are drastic and can happen without any apparent reason. One moment they’re the life of the party, and the next they’re completely withdrawn.

These drastic mood changes can be a sign of deeper internal struggles. It’s like being on an emotional roller coaster that they have no control over.

13) Their self-care habits change

Changes in self-care habits can be a big red flag. Maybe they used to dress up every day and now they barely get out of their pajamas. Or maybe they’ve stopped doing things they used to love. These changes might seem small, but they can indicate that something bigger is going on.

Self-care is often one of the first things to go when people are dealing with internal struggles. If you notice such changes in someone, it might be time to check in on them.

Extend compassion to silent sufferers

In conclusion, recognizing the subtle behaviors indicative of inner struggles in seemingly happy individuals is crucial for offering support and understanding. 

By tuning into the signs and symptoms associated with hidden pain, we can extend empathy and compassion to those who may be silently suffering.

Encouraging open communication, providing a non-judgmental space for expression, and offering assistance when needed can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

It’s through these acts of kindness and support that we can truly make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Picture of Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.