Alone and isolated behind your mask

Behind Your Mask - Alone and Isolated

What mask do you wear? Most of the women business owners and executives I meet and coach are hiding behind a mask regularly. They're living a lie. What's worse is this lie masks their true happiness and potential by crippling their relationships, bodies, inspirations, passions, emotions and spirits.

Let's break it down. Career women are very practiced at getting up in the morning and putting on their favorite mask, and then putting their best foot forward for the day. A woman's mask appears in many elusive forms: happy, competent, powerful or successful. On the outside, woman are smiling, but on the inside they are silently dying. Why? Because they are living a life of fear.

What is behind your mask? Most likely, it's a woman who is raw and enormously vulnerable. Under the guise of "happy" and "chipper" is the tremendous fear of being found out, of being truly seen. Women today feel more alone and isolated than any generation before us and our teens and tweens are even worse, with 50% reporting periods of serious stress, anxiety or depression by the age of 15.

So why are women feeling so alone? And why in the world are we not only hiding this collective pain, but lying about it too?

Put simply, it's caused by too many demands and expectations. Women play too many roles and we simply aren't built for it. Since when was it decided that we not only could "do it all" and "have it all", but that we should? Have all but true joy and peace that is...

It is ridiculous for women to be working 40 or more hours at the office and then to spend another 30+ hours doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, taxiing children to and from school and other activites, paying bills, helping with homework. And then (as if there is time) work out, eat healthy (home made) meals, be romantic and in the mood for sex, and trying to fit in girl-time once a month (which actually should be 1-2 times per week!) Ahh… While women try to live this impossible schedule week after week, month after month, and year after year, it's no wonder they're depressed, disconnected and addicted to sugar and alcohol!

Well ladies, it's time to crack that armor and let the flood gates open. No more living on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and using food and alcohol to numb the emotions and desire to escape that you're so desperate to mask.


You are NOT alone. Stop where you are and look around — do you see those other women? They too feel like you — trapped, overwhelmed, exhausted, and overweight. Many of them also have troubled relationships, demanding jobs and an escapist fantasy of hopping a flight with a one-way ticket away from their crazy lives.

Yes, of course, I know your life is not ONLY doom and gloom.You do laugh and love sometimes. But it certainly feels doom and gloom a lot, right? And if you're like most women business owners, an increasing amount of feeling bad is replacing what could be joyful, peaceful experiences!

TAKE ACTION! So, what's a girl to do?

1) SPEAK - You must begin sharing your VOICE somewhere. Call up your closest girlfriend, hire a coach, start a blog — whatever you choose, just choose to spill the beans. No more hiding behind your mask. Unveiling your truth will encourage more women to do the same. Women must band together and begin living, instead of limping along. Will it be scary? Yup. But isn't the alternative of continuing to live a life of crippling fear behind a mask far worse? Women are designed to connect and share with other women.

2) MAKE CHANGES - It's time to do a serious assessment of what is and what is NOT working in your life. You can have a completely joy filled life, but it must be yours and authentic. It's your life. You and you alone get to choose who and what stays and who and what goes.

I'll never forget the day I decided to "clean house." It wasn't easy to eliminate the the people and things that didn't work in my life, from business partners to friends, and even dairy (yes, that does mean cheese!) Life is simpler now. I have fewer commitments, but they are all perfectly in line with my truest self and the core of my values. Now I am free to focus and do what I love. I coach the most amazing people and businesses and surround myself with a very special community of people that inspire me.

Remember the old saying, "less is more?" It's true. Teaching women to get rid of 20-60% of their daily activities is one of the most rewarding parts of my job! And it's so liberating for women!

3) RESTORATION - It's time to restore your body, mind and spirit. You've likely been tired and wearing that mask for quite some time. At some point in all women's lives, there comes a time for restoration. It's time to remove that heavy mask, to look it the mirror and begin investing all the love and energy you have into the gorgeous creature looking back at you! It's simply part of life and growing into our most authentic skin, and a beautiful part of our journey.

Begin doing what I call the 5 x 5 x 5 exercise. Each day, I want you to spend five minutes journaling about one or more things you're grateful for. Then spend five minutes doing something kind (send a card, pick up trash, call to encourage a friend in need, etc). And then, spend five minutes meditating — literally just feeling yourself breathe in and out. Basking in the miracle of your body's ability to “breathe you”.

Remove your mask and step into a whole new world!

Shawn Byler  |
Dr. Byler is the founder of Intentional Influence, established in October, 1999. Her work as an entrepreneur, company leader, author, speaker, program and product developer and business coach has resulted in her national recognition as an expert in personal and professional development.