Social skills for autonomous people: The darker side of a happy affect


 Some people seem to be happy all the time.

Some people never seem upset, and never seem to mind anything that happens to them.

This is often praised, especially when it’s the affect of people with severe disabilities (intellectual or otherwise).

But, it really isn’t a good thing

Stuff bothers people sometimes. Stuff *should* bother people sometimes.

And if someone seems to be be happy all the time, it means that they’ve been taught that they’re not allowed to be upset, and they’re not allowed to object to anything or mind anything that’s done to them, ever.

It means that, not only are they not allowed to say no, they’re not allowed to even want to say no, or give any indication that they’re not ok with something.

If you spend a lot of time interacting with someone, and nothing seems to bother them, and they never say no to anything, then you should assume that something is wrong and start actively looking for ways to make it possible for them to say no to you and express preferences to you.

This is really good advice. Also, people do not realize how absolutely maddening it is to try to find out what they want if they won’t tell you and everything is fine and absolutely no that’s okay it doesn’t matter really no that’s good it’s okay it doesn’t bother me…

Trying to work without information is hard.

That said, I feel I should point out that I’ve never heard of anyone seeing the Dalai Lama look particularly sad, and I don’t think it’s because he’s been horribly abused. Some people really are a heck of a lot happier than others. I am nearly always happy, very little particularly bothers me, but I am totally aware that I’m allowed to say no or to dislike things. I just rarely have occasion to because I am unreasonably lucky.

Yes, it’s awful. I’ve been on both sides of this.

Successfully consensual interaction requires work from everyone involved.