Masking Your Feelings Lowers Your Self-Esteem

July 15, 2020 Jessica Kaley

Building strong self-esteem requires us to make sure we're not masking our feelings from ourselves. A natural extension of that is feeling strong enough to express your feelings to others. That doesn't mean we have to act out on negative feelings by doing things that could hurt ourselves or others. It means that we are not wrong to experience the gamut of emotions. We can work on being honest about how we feel to build our self-esteem.

If you're sad, angry, disappointed, or hurt, allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept those feelings will build your self-esteem. Everyone experiences a large range of emotions as part of life. Emotions are fluid and they come and go. Healthy self-esteem means that you are comfortable letting yourself feel all your emotions.

This past week I've had a lot of practice in this skillset, and it's had a positive effect on my self-esteem. I mourned as I said goodbye to a beloved cat who was my companion for almost two decades, and I celebrated as I welcomed my new son-in-law to the family at a long-anticipated wedding. Both events were publicly acknowledged, and all week I was keenly aware of my full range of emotions as I accepted congratulations alongside condolences. Today I want to share the insights I learned in hopes they may help you unmask your feelings in a way that builds healthy self-esteem

Masking Your Feelings Is Unhealthy

I have a history of putting on a good show. It was important to me to convince my superiors, teammates, and customers that I was a superstar at my job. It was important to me to be seen as strong and capable, so I shielded my pain and disappointment in my personal life from most of the people who knew me. I was good at acknowledging my negative feelings to myself, but I couldn't accept that it was okay for me to have them.

I felt there must be something wrong with me to feel bad because I have a lot to be grateful for in life. But I also manage depression and anxiety daily. I have blossomed as I learned to accept my mental health issues as much as I had previously accepted my physical health challenges. Honestly facing my full range of emotions is a part of my own journey to healthy self-esteem.

Here are the steps I took to build my self-esteem by unmasking my feelings.

  1. Acknowledge what you are feeling to yourself. Today's world offers us many distractions that allow us to avoid focusing on things that make us feel uncomfortable. Staying home alone since early March has increased the amount of time I spend on introspection. Last week's experiment in avoiding social media upped the ante by removing my greatest distraction. I find journaling helpful in expressing clearly what's going on inside of me. My therapy sessions also help my self-awareness grow. Take the time to learn more about yourself and be honest with yourself always.
  2. Accept that it's okay to feel that way. Knowing and accepting are two different animals. I knew I had negative feelings, but I didn't accept them as okay. This week's rollercoaster of preparing for the happiest day in my daughter's life while dealing with Nips' passing gave me an opportunity to practice this. Be your own best friend by creating the habit of telling yourself it's okay to experience whatever it is that you're feeling. Practice saying, "I'm sad," or, "I'm disappointed," with the same lack of judgment that you say, "I'm happy."
  3. Share your feelings with others when you are ready. This week taught me that I can allow myself to feel everything that's inside while being with other people. Work on dropping the phrases "I'm fine" and "it's okay" as an easy way to move the conversation away from your true emotions. Try saying, "It's hard but I'm working on moving through this," instead. This is an honest statement that recognizes your negative emotions while simultaneously showing your courage and will lead to self-respect and the respect of others as you show that you value yourself exactly as you are.

Self-Esteem Grows When You Unmask Your Feelings

When you learn to acknowledge and accept all your feelings as a natural and honest part of yourself, it becomes easier to examine the parts of your life that are unsatisfactory to you and plan to make changes at your own pace. This is a huge step in your journey to build healthy self-esteem because it tears away the mask you show to the world and to yourself and you can begin to live a life that is more connected to the real you.

Do you feel a need to act happy all the time? How do you react when negative emotions surface? Share in the comments what feelings are hardest for you to accept in yourself. What have you learned about masking your feelings that would help our members on their journey?

APA Reference
Kaley, J. (2020, July 15). Masking Your Feelings Lowers Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Jessica Kaley

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