It’s exhausting keeping up the pretense in all aspects of your life, especially on Social Media….pretending that your life is ‘picture perfect’ for everyone else.
We talked recently about how the reality of life is far from perfect….life is full of ups and downs…..and some struggles are harder than others and many of you seemed to relate and comment and get in touch with me which I was so grateful for, so thank you.
The more roles we take on in life, the more chance there is that things will be far from smooth sailing and the more juggling we have to do on multiple fronts…..
But what I continue to be surprised by is the number of people who I know are experiencing so much crap (sorry that is the nicest word I can come up with for the horrible stuff some people I know are experiencing right now), yet still keep choosing to show the world how ‘wonderful’ their life is, or who keep putting on a brave front because they feel they ‘have to’ as that is what people have come to ‘expect’ from them.
I get it, I certainly do, and whilst at time this can be for self-preservation, it can also have a deeper and more far-reaching negative impact and may be self-destructive instead.
A great example of this would be Robin Williams…. An amazing actor and someone who seemed to have it all, a supportive family, a successful career, people around the world who admired him and thought he was amazing and funny….yet unfortunately we now know all too well after a very public loss and outpouring of grief that he chose to don a mask that hid his true emotions, pain and trauma and his inner battles and experiences from the world as he likely felt that people ‘expected’ that of him.
So, so, sad that a wonderful person with such a gift felt he couldn’t show his inner demons to the world….I often wonder how differently this could have panned out if people had really known….
At some point you too may have made a decision to don a mask….to hide your reality from the world….and whilst it can certainly work for a while and it can make things ‘easier’ in some ways, it can also make things a whole lot more complicated as you live up to the expectations of others and the unrealistic expectations of yourself rather than being genuine in living your own life….
Let’s face it we all have an ideal self that we strive for, an image and a feeling of exactly how we want things to be, and how we want to experience things in our own little world…..
When one of life’s many curve balls comes our way, we still have these expectations of our ideal self and how we want things to be, yet our reality can be far from that for a period of time (some periods longer than others) and our actual self and what we are physically and emotionally capable of doing can be very different from our ideal self and we can fall significantly short of our own expectations.
To complicate it even more, combine that with how we perceive other’s think we should be, the expectations we believe others have for us and this is what we call the ought self (how we think we ought to be and behave and where all the ‘shoulds’ are held….we should do this, we should be like this, we should be able to do this.. ).
When our Actual self is out of alignment with either the ideal self or ought self, we can run into difficulties. This is called our self -discrepancy.
This is where the conflicts arise, and the battle within our own head / body truly begins.
Your Trigger for the mask is knowing within yourself that things are different, that your reality is different and you place this expectation upon yourself of how you perceive things ‘should be, how you ‘should’ be and the masquerade begins….
It’s so much easier to don the mask, to pretend like everything is cool, that things are ‘picture perfect’ that you are not impacted by the trials and tribulations of life….
At some point you made a decision to don your mask….to put it on, cover your face and hide what is really going on from the world….you become so good at it, that at times you may even convince yourself that this masquerade is your new reality….
You wear your mask so well, you become accustomed to the pressure it places on your face, the view from behind it, cutting off your peripheral vision to a degree, you see a different and somewhat distorted view and no-one really knows any different….
Yet your reality is so different behind that mask….
You sleep poorly, you toss and turn every night, you lie awake for hours on end thinking and overthinking, and replaying things over and over ….
You drag yourself out of bed every morning , because you ‘have’ to, others are relying on you, and you need to ‘pretend’ like its all ok….like you’re OK….
You put one foot in front of the other and you turn up as a parent, as a partner, you turn up for work, you turn up as a friend when you are needed….
But when do you turn up for YOU….for yourself….to acknowledge your reality, to allow yourself the time to feel, to process what is going on, and to eventually heal from the hurt and the pain that is part of life’s reality ??
What is it truly costing you to hide behind that mask….??!!
What is the impact of pretending everything is Ok, everything is ‘picture perfect’ in your world….??!!
How are your relationships really, are they equal, is there open and honest communication and appropriate two way give and take ?
How is your emotional health ? If you are absolutely honest with yourself, are you calm, and feeling at peace within yourself ? Or are you on edge, constantly worrying about others and what others think, and never worrying about you and what’s going on within you ?
How is your physical health ? Are you at your ideal weight, are you feeling fit and healthy, are you feeling energetic and on top of things ?
Or is your reality telling a completely different story behind that mask you wear….
Are you ready to be honest….to tell the truth and acknowledge your own reality ?
Let’s face it, there are MANY things you simply cannot change, that you have no control whatsoever over….so it’s about accepting your reality, reflecting on it and making the adjustments you need….
Embracing your Vulnerability is essential for you to get the changes and the success in your life that you desire….
Allow yourself to peek out from behind that mask every now and again, to allow yourself to experience the real world as yourself, for people to get to know the real you, for them to see who you actually are….and you might be very surprised by what happens when you embrace the reality from a place of true vulnerability….and allow yourself the courage to heal those hurts, whatever they may be.
The Best tip for changing your situation is to understand that right now, in the present moment, this is the only thing that you truly have control over….
Acknowledge, Accept and Adjust….
Acknowledge your situation, Accept it for what it is right now….this does not mean that it will stay this way forever, yet right now it is what it is….and make some Adjustments ….
The simplest way to make those adjustments is to be really clear on what your Ideal Self is (ie the vision you have for yourself right now and in the future) and have absolute clarity around your Actual Self and what you are actually capable of right now in the present moment, ensuring you take into account your physical health, psychological health and your emotional health and all the things that you have no control over (ie the curve balls that have come your way) and adjust your perceptions, expectations etc of your self to be in alignment and for your Ideal Self to be as close as possible to your Actual Self for now.
No this does NOT mean you are accepting less than you want for yourself, that you are lowering your standards, or are a failure…the reality is so far from that….by adjusting your expectations of self and bringing them together in the short-term, you are dissolving the internal conflicts that have arisen and you are making the changes necessary to drop your pretence, to lower your mask and let people experience you as you are, genuine, honest and raw and vulnerable….the person they have always wanted you to be….
And then you can finally move forward and start the process of Letting Go and experience the Freedom that this vulnerability brings and the courage that comes with that.
Please don’t be like Robin Williams !!
Go on, lower your mask, you deserve to be free, you’re worth it xx