Take off your mask and learn how to deal with change
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Many of us wear masks daily — not just on Halloween. Think about how we surrender to our thoughts, sometimes exposing them, often using "our masks" to hide or divert true feelings.
Sadly, when these masks are worn, the true self is hidden, and there is a tendency to slip into our own fantasy. This is commonly a way to protect and supposedly defend ourselves from conditions that do not suit or meet our expectations.
Think about how you manage when something changes, especially if the change is unexpected. What mask do you put on? Is it a happy face? Do you laugh to cover for an uncomfortable situation? Or is your mask an angry face accompanied with a verbal tirade spewing out hate, rejection and hurt?
There are many other possible masks to fit situations. The question that needs to be asked is: Do these masks really represent you and who you are, or are they false, hidden ways of protecting yourself.
Change can be difficult, and its impact on each individual can differ. When change catches you off guard, you may find yourself at a loss on how to manage. It can be a time of conflict or loss of control that may force a reaction and create a need for a mask.
You may feel on the spot, need an escape hatch, or seek to create an avoidance strategy — all done to relieve the pressure imposed by the change. Most reach for a mask, avoidance or diversionary tactic. These become as common and readily available as store-bought masks at Halloween.
OK, that's the challenge, so what can be done? The answer is not a simple one.
Change has a way of blindsiding us. When it appears unexpectedly, a fear of the unknown is created, leaving feelings of uncertainty and worry. These feelings accumulate and can germinate into full-blown anxiety (a fear of the unknown).
Fueled by emotions, anxiety grows until you no longer have coping strategies to combat it. The growing reactions and uncomfortable feelings become irrational-oriented thoughts that start to dominate one's behavior. Change — a condition over which you have little to no control — has taken control.
Consider this coaching strategy. It is designed to help one recover from a "condition-controlled position," and move to a "self-management position." Here are three steps:
1. Connect (Awareness)
Gather information, facts, opinions, beliefs and observations regarding the change presented. Instead of reaching for a mask, ask yourself the question: "What can I do with this situation right now?"
Do your best not to react or get emotional about the change. Listen to yourself. Are you telling yourself, "I can't handle this change"? If so, you are letting emotional thinking control and drive your behaviors.
Stop the "I can't" thinking by asking, "What can I do?" Do what you can do now.
2. Associated (Assessment)
Understand the situation is what it is, and you will not be able to change it. What you can do is develop a plan or strategy to manage the situation. Managing a situation is simply putting yourself in a position where you can continue to be productive.
If you do this, you will eventually move to a control spot and not be hiding behind a mask. Your thinking, behavior and decision help to regain control of the one thing you can control — you.
3. Shield (Action)
Now, take care of yourself. Don't rush to judgment or make things too complicated. Keep things simple until you regain control of your behavior. Keep asking what you can do to improve your position.
As you take steps, evaluate your progress. Continue with thoughts and behaviors that guide you forward.
If you want to wear a mask, that is your choice. I suggest you choose to be who you are. You are important, and you can't be replaced.
Change is the one thing we can be sure is going to occur. Don't let it defeat you. Rather, accept the challenge and remember to control the things that you can control — your thoughts, your behavior, and you!
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