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Leadership Thought #236 – Drop The Mask And Be Real

October 28, 2011

Free Photo of Woman Holding Skull Mask Stock Photo

Many of us walk around with a mask that we put on when things get uncomfortable.

Too often in life we respond to situations the way we think we should rather than expressing our true feelings.  We build up walls around our emotions to prevent others from seeing our personal vulnerabilities.  It’s sad but most of us have grown up believing that our emotional reaction to something is either good or bad rather than part of being human.  One of the ways we do this is to overcompensate with the opposite emotion, e.g., fear turns into anger, disappointment is shrouded by acting like you don’t care, etc.

Unfortunately, not being true to yourself and inauthentic with your emotions often leads to feelings of avoidance and repression. Repressed feelings often lead to some level of unhappiness and/or dysfunctional behavior.  We also typically end up with the outcomes we do not want because others misread our intentions. When we put on the mask, we hinder all conversations.

The reality is that how we feel about something is not wrong.  It’s how we act on the feelings that get us in trouble.   Being sad is okay.  Being stuck in a rut of sadness and becoming morose and preventing any joy from entering your life is not okay.  Once any emotion begins to dominate your life and becomes a running theme that affects everything, it is time to seek professional help.  You can be “too much” of anything including being too happy.  No one can be upbeat all the time.  It is too exhausting to pull off and begins to appear artificial and disingenuous.

I am a firm believer in the concept that your life is what you make of it.  Good and bad things happen to everyone.  What is important is that you acknowledge your emotions regardless of the situation. Don’t rush to judgment about how you feel – simply allow yourself to experience it.  Be honest with yourself and others when this happens.  This doesn’t mean you turn every encounter into an exchange of emotions, however, when it is something significant you should be open and genuine about it.  There are also many situations where you will be able to work through whatever you are going through alone if you allow yourself the emotional space for this to happen.  It is a fact that the sooner you deal with anything challenging or difficult the easier it is to overcome or experience.  Drop the mask and be real.