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Masking as one of the reasons for suffering from anxiety

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The anxiety It has become perhaps the most common psychological and emotional problem today. We feel so much anxiety that it leads us to live with constant discomfort, intrusive thoughts, and even over time it leads us to discouragement. But what are the reasons? One of the most frequent is the masking... that is, when you strive (unconsciously) not to be who you are, but you build a different image of yourself for fear of the reaction of others or of not fitting in.

What is masking? Why does it arise?

It is a more common problem than we think. Human beings are social beings and we adapt to different situations and contexts. You do not behave in the same way with your family, friends, partner, boss, co-workers or children. However, When we feel too much anxiety in our relationships (whether as a couple, social, friendly, work) it is because we are masking our personality..

Over time this makes us feel discouraged and not know who we are or what we want. But today you are going to start solving it with this article. Let's delve into the following: what anxiety is and why it arises so much, how to mask your personality (or adapting too much) is a problem, and how you can start to solve it from today. What I am going to tell you is based on my direct experience in therapy over the last 11 years as a psychologist and coach accompanying people who managed to solve this problem. Let's go for it.

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  • Related article: "Self-concept: what is it and how is it formed?"

What is anxiety and its different causes

Let's start at the beginning. Anxiety is a state of fear and insecurity that has become widespread, as if you lived in a state of alert. It is an unpleasant emotional state that leads us to live with intrusive thoughts, negativity and, over time, fatigue and discouragement.

Feeling anxious at certain moments in our lives can be normal: a first date, a first day at work, a move, exposing yourself in front of an audience or taking a flight... All of these situations can make you feel a little anxious. The problem arises when anxiety is so frequent that it becomes the most common emotional state. The reasons are mainly two:

  • Dysfunctional respiratory mechanics: You breathe quickly and shallowly (due to a state of alertness and insecurity), which is why you feel that unpleasant sensation in the chest or pit of your stomach. This leads to intrusive thoughts, problems sleeping, eating (binge eating or lack of hunger), as well as nerves and anguish.
  • A difficulty managing certain key emotions: It is mainly about fear and insecurity, although anxiety can also manifest itself with guilt or anger (frequent arguments).

And what is masking?

It is both a symptom of anxiety and one of its causes. Masking means that you overadapt to others for fear of their reactions if you make your own decisions or your behavior is more spontaneous. Let's see it in detail.

Mask: stop being you

Masking is when we make an extra effort to adapt to what we believe others expect, in such a way that we do not make our decisions and do not act as we need. Sometimes it happens completely unconsciously, to the point that the person loses their identity. This can happen to you in several situations:

  • Social context: We attend too many events or do not reject them, just to please others. In these situations you mask your personality and try to fit in, which causes you more anxiety and fatigue.
  • Personal context: out of fear of what people will say, you do not communicate assertively and end up giving in to the wishes of others
  • Employment situation: you accumulate work, tasks that do not correspond to you, or even try too hard to feel that you are valued
  • In the couple's plot: you lose your own interests, you forget your priorities, you give in too much to others and you even lose your personality for fear of their possible reactions. When we feel that we are in an identity crisis or that we don't know what we want, it is usually due to these types of difficulties. Although masking (or masking in English) is usually closely associated with conditions such as autism (due to the lack of inclusivity that exists in our society, which leads many autistic people to use their intelligence to overcome adapt to difficult contexts for them), in reality masking is something that can happen to anyone if they live in a state anxious. As we talked about, stopping being you is both a symptom of anxiety and a cause, since both difficulties feed into each other. However... how can we solve it?

Start being you and overcome anxiety

These types of difficulties may have developed throughout your life or perhaps as a result of more intense experiences. The important thing about this is to understand that solving it does not consist of going to the past or seeing the cause, but rather working with what is happening to you now and solving it through your own personal change.

We need to work with several factors:

  • Self-esteem: When we are in a state of anxiety and we mask it is because your well-being depends more on external factors that you cannot control (how others think, how they will value you, etc.). A functioning self-esteem is not “high” or low, but rather a way of relating to yourself through which your well-being depends mainly on you (on your actions, decisions and interpretations). This is not just about desires... but with concrete changes.
  • Emotion management: Although it seems that fear and insecurity are the cause of everything, in reality it is our way of managing them. These emotions fulfill their function and are important. But if you manage them in a dysfunctional way, they can be too intense, frequent and long-lasting. Learning to understand your emotions will help you relativize and educate them.
  • Communication: communication that helps you get to know yourself and make your own decisions according to your priorities and needs is assertive, clear, concrete, practical and, above all, direct and kind. It's about expressing what you want, don't want, can and can't. This will make you gain spontaneity.
  • Analyze the way you approach your relationships: if your way of building relationships is dependent or based on insecurity, these difficulties will be more likely to arise.
  • Character or way of processing information: a greater tendency towards introversion or extraversion (which is actually a way of processing information, which leads us to a different character) leads us to different difficulties. If you tend toward introversion but try to make an effort to socialize, perhaps the problem is that you do not adapt to your own limits and needs.
  • Respiratory mechanics: Working with your breathing is an essential and priority step that is not usually worked on. Every anxious state arises as a consequence of inadequate respiratory mechanics. Therefore, we must begin your process by learning to breathe fully to reduce the intensity of anxiety and make everything a little easier for you.
  • Have an action plan: To achieve the change you need, it is also important to have a concrete action plan that will lead you to the change you need. An adequate action plan must always be adapted to you (for this reason it is not possible to do it with templates or in a simple way). In my case, I like to work on an action plan when the process is a little more advanced, since first of all We are going to discover how you are managing what happens to you and what are the most important changes that we should do.
  • Constant company: One of the biggest difficulties with anxiety is that it is usually a constant feeling. For this reason, occasional help with sessions does not usually work. The necessary help must be more constant, to be able to face the difficulties you have that same day. Nowadays and thanks to current technologies this is possible. For this reason, my way of accompanying is every day, for any need, as well as with weekly tools, sessions, etc. This helps us to be able to delve deeper into what is happening to you and solve it with stability.

Are you looking for professional support?

If that's what you want and need, don't hesitate. contact me. This way we can schedule a first session, get to know each other, see what the problem is and how we can solve it.

Ruben Camacho

Ruben Camacho

Ruben Camacho

Psychologist and Coach

Verified Professional
Online therapy

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I send you much encouragement and confidence, Rubén Camacho. Psychologist and coach.

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