“I find sometimes It’s easy to be myself…….Sometimes I find its better to be somebody else” ~ Dave Matthews Band
I love Halloween. I love the makeup, the wigs, the costumes…. really what I love is dressing up! As an adult dressing up for Halloween, the whole concept to me is this opportunity to express some creative part of ourselves that we don’t get to show off every day. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to show what a big fan you are of a movie or comic series. Maybe it’s a chance to show off your artistic skills with makeup or realistic face and body painting. Or maybe it’s one of the few times in a year you can take a day away from wearing a uniform and stand out. Whatever it is that you like about dressing up for Halloween, its basically just plain fun. The one accessory I never did take to though, is the mask. Its uncomfortable, its hot, its sweaty, its hard to breath in, nearly impossible to eat or drink in, and once you remove it the whole look is kind of gone. Most people don’t like wearing a mask for Halloween, masks are not so fun. So why is it that so many of us choose to wear a metaphorical mask from time to time in our everyday lives? I for one am kind of over it.
I think most of us can relate to “wearing a mask,” and a lot of the time it’s attempting to fit with what most socially acceptable and sometimes its just what feels safe. If you just had a terrible weekend, on Monday morning your boss casually asked how your weekend was, you’re more likely going to just reply “good” than burst into tears and get into the whole story right then and there. Maybe you argued with your partner the entire drive to a party but both walk in with beaming smiles. You likely take multiple pictures so you can scan through them all and post the best one on social media. If you’re like me, you might do a quick cleanup of an area by moving a bunch of junk out of camera view in the room you want to take a family picture in so it looks nice and clean in the background. Maybe you posted your trip to the gym but left out the trip to McDonalds the next day. We all do these little things to mask certain aspects of our lives that we don’t want the world to see. A little “make up” on a situation might be what works best in some cases; but if you find yourself wearing a mask on a regular basis, it also can be detrimental to making real progress in your life.
What Mask are you tired of wearing?
Juggling ALL the things. The babies, the house, the cooking, work, laundry, courses, events, bills, seasonal flus, lack of sleep, fitness, relationships….the list can go on and on and on. No matter what gets thrown at you, you take on the task. As the load keeps piling higher and higher you work harder and faster to try and get through it all until your neglecting any self care and cutting down on more important aspects of your life in order to get everything done. This is always going to eventually lead to a burn out. Behind the mask of keeping everything together, you’re likely tired and in need of a little break.
You can still get all the things done without masking an oncoming burn out, and if you don’t get them done….does it really matter? Focus on priorities, ease up a little on the rest.
Delegate: Ask for or hire help. Even with a small budget, the amount of time and energy saved on tasks you don’t enjoy doing is well worth the cost. Play with your numbers and see if you can make some changes to make that work for you. For me even just someone in to clean the bathrooms was a game changer.
Recharge: Even a superhero can’t go full out all day every day. Schedule a break into your day and schedule something you enjoy into your week. Set a reminder about winding down for bedtime if you often stay up way too late and turn off the TVs for the period to relax before bed.
Take Care of You: Make sure you’re eating well, drinking your water and getting enough sleep. Sounds simple but it’s so common to neglect these basic needs. It takes a lot of physical and mental energy to balance multiple things going on in your life at the same time. Fuel your body and mind with healthy food and healthy thoughts. Take an honest look at your eating habits, or even scrolling habits and eliminate whatever is not fueling you in a positive way.
The victim feels wronged by the world or destined to fail in some way due to a past experience. They may wear this mask as a reason to give up, or not even try things in the first place. If you find yourself saying things like “I’ve never been good with money so I will always be poor” or “I suck at relationships, I will be single forever.” Maybe you find yourself using a past experience as a reason for a poor behavior choice in the present. Do you feel like the cards are just stacked against you? It’s normal to feel wronged by situations that effect us in a negative way, but we don’t want to get caught up in this mindset that the world is out to get us and that’s just how things are going to go for us.
There is a big difference between being a victim of a situation and victimizing yourself in every situation. The choice to take off the victim mask is a choice to live in the present moment without pre judging situations. Underneath the victim mask is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough. Remember though this is not your reality, its just your own projection of that fear.
Time Out If you feel yourself really gravitating towards a negative perspective, take a time out and clear your mind with a meditation, a walk out doors or listen to an upbeat song.
Name it Recognize what is actually under that mask. Journal it, get it all out. This is literally a mind dump. Write out all those limiting believes that have been holding you back and start to let them go. The past does not determine your future and the sooner you can release that, the easier it will be to live in the present. Let go of the idea that the world is against you and start opening up to all the possibilities and opportunities the universe has available to you.
Gratitude There is no faster way to take off that victim mask than a gratitude practice. Start simple, set an alarm on your phone and every time you hear it go off take a moment to think of one thing in your life this moment you are grateful for. Bonus: write it down.
The Busy Bee
Everyone is busy, legit BUSY! However if you’re wearing the busy bee mask, it likely means you are creating businesses in your life to avoid something else. Perhaps you are filling your schedule with social events to avoid being alone. Maybe it’s the opposite, you work and work and work to avoid personal relationships or being social. Reflect for a moment, is your life really that busy, or are you creating that busy bee life.
This is another mask that can lead to a burn out. It’s also so important to make time for yourself and to let your brain rest. The more comfortable you become with spending time alone or away from technology the easier it will be to discover what actually makes you happy. Added bonus for my single and looking readers; the more comfortable you become spending time with yourself, the more comfortable others will be spending time with you as well.
Date Night, For One Get really comfortable spending time alone or taking a break to do nothing. This goes for single people as well as people in a significant relationship. My personal favorite is a bubble bath with lots of candles lit, good tunes and a glass of wine. Go somewhere to read a book, a park or library or coffee shop. Take a walk outside and leave your phone at home.
Practice Saying No You don’t need to say yes to every invite, every task or every event coming to town. Leave some open space in your life and allow room for other positive things you may not have planned to come in.
The Tough One
This mask covers up all the sad, the hurt, the un-perfect shit that is part of life. This mask can be worn to appear like everything is great when its not. It can also be worn to appear not to care about someone or something for fear of feeling hurt or some other fear inside. Although not letting yourself feel the emotions may seem easier, it’s actually giving them more power and draining a lot of your mental energy. It’s ok to not be ok all the time.
When it comes to taking off your mask emotionally the most important thing is to feel safe. Do you trust the person you are talking to? Are you in a space you feel comfortable, is there a level of privacy you feel good about? I have been guilty in the past many times of replying “good” in response to how I am doing, when in fact I was not doing good at all. Personally I still would not pour my heart out to everyone who asks how I am doing if I am not doing that great. However it needs to be more common to sometimes just say “I am not having the best day today,” Because I can guarantee you you’re not alone.
Find Your Person You don’t need to let everyone in on how you’re really feeling, but it will be helpful to have someone you trust who you can tell. This could be your mom, your spouse, your best friend, or join a support group that can relate to you online. Follow authors or people who are a few steps a head in the same battle you’re in deep end of. Hire a coach, a therapist, or talk to your doctor. At the very minimum, write about what’s behind the mask, start slow until you are more comfortable talking.
Start Slow Take notice when your response to people is hiding behind this mask. Once you’re conscience of the mask, slowly peel back a corner. Perhaps that means responding “I’m just OK” instead of “I am great” when someone you consider safe asks. Eventually you might feel comfortable telling them, “am having a really hard time.”
Find an Outlet This mask carries a heavy emotional burden, and that is going to effect you physically as well. It’s important to take care of your body as well as your mind as the stress can manifest in physical ways. Exercise daily. This should be a priority for everyone everyday anyway, but it’s extra important if you tend to hold emotions in. High frequency cardio, boxing, dancing, or running outside are all great. It’s also good to ground those efforts with something like yoga. Yoga is a great way to focus inwardly and benefit physically through the expression of the postures.
Taking off the Mask is Getting to the Root
No matter what mask you’re wearing, there is something underneath. Self reflection, journaling, coaching, meditating, counselling, support groups, exercising and sleeping well are all great options and places to start.
So for Halloween this year, lets take off the masks, or at least start to.
What Some guidance taking off your mask? Send me a message, lets talk.