• Daily Masks: Overcoming Shame

    When planning on returning to the world of weekly blogs, I never would have imagined that we would be in a world where staying home is enforced. Now, there is a shortage of common cleaning supplies and paper products, and wearing masks is mandatory in some public places. Inside our homes, we have learned how to manage boredom. We’ve also grown accustomed to curbside pickups and DoorDash deliveries.

    Woman wears a surgical mask hiding her emotions. She gets online therapy in ohio, online therapy in Pennsylvania, or online therapy in Tennessee with online therapist Melissa Russiano

    Honestly, the words ‘social distancing’ are two that I hope to never hear again. But, these two words have resulted in a weird disconnected connection with our friends and family using technology. If my daughter would not ‘disown’ me, I would have posted the picture of me with my recent trek to curbside pick up. My outfit was accessorized with a black baseball cap and a black mask with super cool vents. It was an impressive audition for a future role in Star Wars, but, it did not allow me to drink water through it. This simple thing made me laugh just at the ridiculousness of it all. (You know some of you have done that too…). Life is surreal these days, but we are all coping in the best way we know how. Together we will make it through these times and together we will heal.

    Wearing a mask, now has a new meaning for me due to Coronavirus.

    I use the image of a mask to represent the fake faces we show others to hide our real thoughts or emotions. But, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, I view masks a little differently now.

    My focus has always been to encourage people to TAKE OFF their masks so that they can be authentic. Show others the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let yourself be known for who you are at the core. Don’t use a fake mask to cover up how you really feel. Outside of the current pandemic, what do most of us use masks to cover up? The list is endless, but in my experience masks are used to cover our shame, our failures, our imperfections, and even our dreams. Throughout the month of May, we will cover each of the issues in depth each week in my blog: Mondays with Melissa. Ultimately, my hope is that we can work together to develop a way to take off our metaphorical masks. Even if we have to wear real ones in public.

    Masks Help You Hide Feelings of Shame

    man wears a surgical mask due to covid-19 and also to hide his emotions. He gets online therapy in ohio, online therapy in Tennessee, and online therapy in Pennsylvania with online therapist Melissa russianoShame is the primary emotion that masks are meant to hide. What is shame? Most people will define shame as being something that they are “embarrassed” about. Something that they do not want others to know for fear that they will not be accepted, loved or understood. If I were to write a list of everything that I have been embarrassed about, we would be here until May 2021! Do I have some shame in some of those experiences? Of course! It is human nature to feel some level of shame in certain situations. However, I am not defined by shame. That is the difference between having shame experiences and having a shameful identity.

    The Definition of Shame According to Brené Brown in The Daring Way™

    “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake?” How many of you would be willing to say that? Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake.”

    -Brené Brown: Shame vs. Guilt

    But if we let shame define who we are, how does that impact how we choose relationships? Career opportunities? Adventures? Is it holding you back? Or forcing you to settle for less than you deserve. Ultimately, the effects of shame just start another shame spiral, and the cycle continues.

    When You Cover Your Face with a Mask This Week, Let It Be a Reminder of the Negative Effects Shame Can Have On Your Wellbeing.

    Masks are hot, create a claustrophobic feeling, and are downright bizarre (in my pandemic opinion…). However, when it is an emotional mask, we hold on to them for dear life, no matter what impact they have on our energy levels, no matter how they hold us back and for most of us no matter how much they cause us pain. As you are wearing your physical mask this week, have it be a tangible reminder to think about the emotional mask you are wearing. You may be surprised at what you realize you are keeping hidden behind the cloth that not even your closest people are aware of.

    What’s On the Inside Of Your Mask?

    If you are one of the many who would write SHAME on the inside of your mask. But, you show the world a fabulous smile and perfection on the outside, we have some work to do! Before next week’s blog on failure & self-sabotage, I have some homework for you! Take out a piece of paper and start writing what is on the inside of your mask. What are you hiding from the world? What are you hiding from those closest to you? Maybe even what are you trying to hide from yourself?

    Once we talk about failures, dreams, and imperfections (which will include social media pitfalls…), then we will focus on what to do so to show the world who you are. Then, you can start to leave the emotional mask at home, even though your pandemic masks will have to stick around for a while.

    We all wear masks every day to function. Right now for health reasons, but typically for emotional safety. That truth will not change. What you CAN change is the reasons for the mask being there.

    It will be uncomfortable, it may be painful and it definitely will challenge you. But at the end of this journey, my hope is that you realize that the emotional mask is not worth the energy any longer. Being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience. One that will take bravery and vulnerability….but that is a blog for another day!

    Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!

    Begin Online Therapy in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Tennessee:

    woman takes off her mask to smell flowers. she went to online therapy in Tennessee, online therapy in Ohio, or online therapy in Pennsylvania with online therapist Melissa RussianoI offer online therapy in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to help you feel like you are succeeding and fulfilled in every aspect of your life. Therefore, I provide therapy for helping professionals, therapy for busy professionals, and therapy for therapists. Contact me today to begin counseling!

    If you still have questions or want to learn more, I would like to invite you to learn about me as a therapist or check out my FAQs.