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Should We Mask Our True Feelings?

It’s normal to be okay and not okay simultaneously, and I wouldn’t call it masking feelings; it’s more of exposing and changing the angle of our attention and focus to what we

Y bronze Author: Yasmineelbaz
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  • 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 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?

It has happened to all of us at least once; that moment when something bad or stressful happens, and we 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, and burn out, which is part of our everyday lives. However, we cannot engage everyone in how we truly feel each time we are not our best.

It’s normal to be okay and not okay simultaneously, and I wouldn’t call it masking feelings; it’s more of exposing and changing the angle of our attention and focus to what we need now.

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 on your surroundings will help you drag your attention to other topics. Focusing on the attendees’ body language, attire, and engagement, 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 become more present.

3)     Change your perspective

Instead of thinking how bad it is to mask your feelings for that meeting or presentation or 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. A 20% or 30% decline is better than 70 % or 80%.

5)      Use deep breathing exercises

You might need to recenter yourself when focusing, but it’s not happening. Deep breathing techniques can help bring you back to your surroundings. Slow your breathing and start counting your breaths: 3 seconds inhale, then hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale for 5 seconds. If you can do this outside with fresh air, this will maximize the impact. Keep repeating until 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 help your mind believe that you’re feeling better than you are. Don’t slouch, cross your arms, or slide down your chin. Do your best to sit and stand the way a professional would.

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; practice well if you know you’ll deliver a speech, presentation, or any speaking engagement. 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 you trust a colleague who can cover a part of your presentation so you can remove a part of the burden on you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. That’s better than giving up the whole opportunity.

I understand how hard it is to resist our feelings. Many of us live stressful lives, and we cannot control what each day might bring. However, we can control our perspective and prepare ourselves to maximize each opportunity.

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