Should We Mask Our True Feelings?
· You’re 15 minutes away from delivering your project presentation, that you’ve been preparing for weeks, which might affect your next promotion. And while you’re walking through the hallway, your manager shocks you with some negative comments about your recent report.
· You’re about to enter an important meeting and suddenly you receive a message with bad news!
· You’re having a bad week, physically or psychologically, and you’re responsible for training a group of employees who will pass through a concrete evaluation afterward.
Do you feel relevant to any of these situations?
I has happened to all of us at least once; that moment when something bad or stressful happens and we’re in need to mask our feelings because in many cases just leaving or giving up the opportunity isn’t the wiser choice.
Sometimes, we’re just not okay. We hurt, grieve, stress, burn out. And that is a part of our everyday life. But we cannot engage everyone around us in how we truly feel each time we are not our best.
It’s normal to be okay and not okay at the same time, and I wouldn’t call it masking feelings, it’s more of exposing and turning on the angle of our attention and focus to what we need at the current moment.
I could be sad about something but still excited about being at a certain place. That doesn’t mean we won’t be affected, but when leaving isn’t an option, more practical techniques are needed to handle the moment.
Below are 8 tips that can help you hold it in until you can let it all out:
1) Venting your feelings
Even though talking about how we truly feel with others might sound like the best choice to help you relieve your sadness or stress, it’s not the best thing to do right before you get into your important opportunity. Sometimes opening such conversations has a leftover effect that dwells even after the conversation ends.
Venting your feelings to close ones would be a good step if you’ll have enough time to process the leftovers of the conversation before you get into a situation where you’ll need to hold your feelings.
2) Focus on your surroundings
If you keep drowning in your thoughts, it will make it harder for you not to break down. Focusing your attention on your surroundings will help you drag your attention to other topics. Focusing on the attendees’ body language, attire, and engagement, or focusing on the texture of items you touch or the smells around you. And of course, attentively listening to other people and trying to feel the energy they put into their words. Gradually this will help you be more present.
3) Change your perspective
Instead of thinking how bad it is to have to mask your feelings for that meeting or presentation or whatever was the situation, try focusing on how this will affect you in the long term and how this opportunity matters to you and the people who will be there. Remind yourself of the reason you accepted that opportunity in the first place.
4) Don’t aim for perfection!
We’ve just talked about how changing our perspective is important, however, pushing on your nerves by aiming to be perfect and to perform exactly as if you’re all well, would be very harmful. You don’t need to add more stress to how you’re feeling. Accept the fact that there will be a decline in your performance, however, a 20% or 30% decline is better than 70 % or 80%.
5) Use deep breathing exercises
When you're trying your best to focus but it's just not happening, you might need to recenter yourself. Deep breathing techniques can help bring you back to your surroundings at the moment. Slow your breathing and start counting your breaths, 3 seconds inhale, then keep your breath for 4 seconds then 5 seconds’ exhale. If you have the opportunity to do this outside with fresh air, this will maximize the impact. Keep repeating till you feel a sense of grounding.
6) Smile and stand straight!
You’ll be surprised how a simple adjustment to your body posture and smiling when needed can assist in making your mind believe that you’re feeling better than you are. Don’t slouch or cross your arms or slide down your chin. Do your best to sit and stand the way a professional person would do.
7) Master your rehearsals
One of the most proven techniques that will help you master isolating your inner feelings to how you should perform at some moments is when you’ve mastered rehearsing your speaking opportunity. Don’t wait for surprises, if you know you’ll deliver a speech, presentation, or any kind of speaking engagement, practice well for it. Rehearsals will save you from thinking about each thing you do in the actual situation and could help you have a smoother delivery of your content as if you’re on autopilot. Even though being fully present during your presentation/speech is essential, however when you’re not at your best, rehearsals could help you sustain a great percentage of the quality of your delivery despite how you feel.
8) Allow people to support you.
If there’s a colleague that you trust who can cover a part of your presentation so you can remove a part of the burden on you, then don’t hesitate to reach out for help. That’s better than giving up the whole opportunity.
I understand how hard it is to not just give in to our feelings but many of us are living a life that’s full of stressful situations and we cannot control what each day might bring us, but we can control our perspective and prepare ourselves to make the most out of each opportunity.