Wikipedia describes the meaning of ‘imposter’ as a person who pretends to be somebody else, often through means of disguise.
Usually when we think of the word ‘disguise’ we envisage a costume party where we get to dress up as someone different, put on a mask and have a good time. Now that sounds like great fun but there is another type of disguise that people use daily in front of others..….a different type of mask.
So why do some of us put up a façade?
Why is being authentic so difficult for some?
Well who of you suffers, or has suffered with anxiety or depression and has heard these words: “You’ll be fine”,
“Get over it”, “It’s not that bad”, “Stop worrying”.
Who has lost a loved one and been told “You need to move on”
or “It’s been two years, you should be fine by now”.
These are all too common statements that people say without even realising the damage it can cause.
Whilst the stigma of mental health conditions is slowly being lifted, it is still not something that people are willing to talk about openly and that in itself is a huge problem as the more those suffering have to hide it, the harder it is for them to get support. No-one blinks an eye at discussing physical ailments like cholesterol, diabetes or cancer so why not mental health. When you talk to someone about their physical struggles, it helps them express how they are feeling and gets those emotions out of their body which in turn helps them to feel better about the situation they are in. Well the same works with mental health conditions – talking about it and being allowed to express their emotions helps them cope.
If you are supporting someone who is going through a tough time you need to talk to them and bear in mind that everyone is unique and has different circumstances. For this reason, we can all go through the same trauma or mental illness or life challenge but how we deal with it, how we react to it and how long it takes us to get through it will all vary greatly. Know that they are doing the best they can and if they could just snap their fingers and have it all go away, they would! But it just doesn’t work that way.
Here are some ways you can support someone facing tough times:
Listen and I mean truly listen. Sit down with them and tell them you are there for them and that they can talk to you and when they do, just listen.
Do not judge them. Believe me, they are already judging themselves and hearing it from someone else will just worsen their situation.
Don’t fix them and by this I mean don’t tell them what to do to get over it. You may mean well but it will make them feel like you don’t really understand.
Be empathic. This is the number one tool for supporting another. Try and put yourself in their shoes and show compassion by using words like “I’m here for you”, “It must be really difficult for you” or “I can’t imagine how that must be making you feel”.
Show affection if they are receptive. It doesn’t need to be a huge bear hug but just a touch on the shoulder or holding their hand can bring a lot of comfort and stability to them.
Ask if they would be willing to seek professional help and offer to help them find someone suitable and even offer to go with them to the first appointment. Often the strength drawn from another can help someone take the next step.
So let’s all band together and get talking about mental health……..
Debra Bragança / Counsellor & Psychotherapist / Anchoring Your Life Counselling & Coaching
Specialising in Anxiety, Depression, Grief & Relationships