Halloween: The Masks We Wear

masks-1152278_1280We all wear masks at one time or another, pretending that everything is OK. It’s common to hide personal pain. But the bad feelings don’t just disappear.

Transitions are complicated. You may be letting go of roles that define you, facing a financial crisis, or adjusting to loss and a new reality. Refuse to give up on yourself, and let the following tips help you take one step at a time:

Look deep inside. Are you afraid of what’s in your heart or head? If you’re angry or depressed and holding back, you may be masking your feelings by engaging in risky behaviors or substance abuse. Denial is a defense mechanism that doesn’t always serve you. Understand and work through its impact, for your wellbeing.

Speak your truth. If you’re confused about what to do next, get the help you need. Seeking expert guidance from a therapist or coach and learning effective coping skills can be a lifesaver. As you put unfinished business to rest, you’ll feel free to be more honest with yourself and those who are important to you.

Reduce your stress. Pressure from work or relationships can be a catalyst for negativity and bad behavior. Honor your body. Pay attention to your diet, exercise, sleep patterns and what gives you pleasure. Add 15 minutes of meditation or relaxation into your daily schedule until it becomes a healthy habit.

Seek the support you need. Spend time with friends who understand what you’re going through or colleagues who have had similar experiences. Or talk with family members who know what’s in your best interests and whose opinions you respect. Connect often with those you trust so you can feel safe and secure.

Be congruent. You can be out of sorts and uncomfortable in your own skin when you feel one way and act another. Work on synchronicity; that is, making what you feel match what you do. Integrate your personal values and core ideals into how you view the world, and live them.

Studies do indicate that using denial and acting as if you’re fine can create positive feelings. And a stiff upper lip when scared may result in gaining more control over a difficult situation.

But there are pitfalls in presenting a false identity. Take off your mask and commit to feeling more positive about yourself. Accept who you are becoming as you move from being afraid of your future to feeling excited about what’s ahead.

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