How often do you put on a mask, metaphorically speaking, and pretend all is well in your world when it’s not?
Maybe in such circumstances, you think: “I don’t want to burden them”, “people have enough to deal with in their own lives”, “everyone is busy”, “they’re not interested in how I really am”, and so forth.
I’ve seen this a lot and I’ve also been the person who’s put on a mask and said “I’m fine” recognising that I could easily dissolve into a puddle of tears if I was to share how I was actually feeling.
There can be some real risks and missed opportunities when we cover up how we’re actually feeling. It often stops us from getting the support that can help us to process and respond to our experiences. It blocks chances to build deeper and more authentic relationships, makes us feel separate or alone, and it can feed the perception that everyone else’s life is awesome and it’s just us for whom life is difficult.
When we share honestly with others it can also give them the confidence to speak up about their own challenges when they arise.
If you have read Tuesday Tales before you may be aware that I shared about some personal struggles recently. While a part of me felt nervous and feared judgement, I wanted to be authentic about what I was experiencing for both myself and you.
I’m glad that I did because it triggered a number of people reaching out to say that they recognised themselves in the stories shared and that they were encouraged to reflect and/or reach out for help.
Thankfully I’m feeling lighter every day but that won’t be the case for everyone we meet this week. Some people we cross paths with have just had an argument with a loved one, lost a sibling to illness, just found out that their job is redundant … Let’s slow down and ask them how they are really are then listen without judgement. Let’s create a culture of interest, care and connection because it’s great for all of our mental health.
How would it be to live in a world with less masks? What if we were to start small? What if we started it with a few good people we know and expanded it from there?
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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.