During the NLP training in Bali, a student asked me if I had any tips to cope with wearing a face mask. It was only February, and this student already felt like hitting a wall after one plane ride. Some people express more anxiety than others using a face mask, and truthfully some of us are less resilient. There, I said it. It is a mask, not a medieval torture device.
No one sane, or who isn’t required to lip read, should experience a negative emotion like anxiety or fear when someone else is wearing a face mask. In contrast, some people do feel those emotions when other people don’t wear a face mask around them. Some people don’t believe in face masks, and aren’t kind to others who do. It is acceptable to them somehow to disempower, belittle other peoples’ knowledge, and not care about their feelings.
The worst ones cloak it inside saying they are teachers and healers, that they somehow have special privileged knowledge. So they don’t wear a mask, for whatever reason, and with that they deliberately choose that their comfort is more important than someone else’s fear and anxiety.
Some scientists say masks don’t work. Some say they do work. People tend to pick the scientist that represents their map. Scientists and the educated about science actually know that scientists always oppose each other. Sometimes one is right, sometimes both, sometimes neither. Sometimes the scientific community believes something for decades, that appears to be flat out wrong and unscientific in the end. For example, the world is flat, skinny women are witches, almost all theories by Sigmund Freud, most things we thought we knew about the brain, etc. As scientists would say, it is in the hypothesis that the scientist uses. The internal and external, construct, face, and content validity (65 to above .90). And reliability. These are the words that real scientists use.
No one has proven that wearing a mask is harmful. It feels a little bit like the neuro-sciences to me, so much we don’t know yet. The moment I start imagining that my cough when I had COVID could have killed my or someone else’s mother, or a person with asthma, I prefer to be on the side of caution. Until we do know if face masks work or not. What I don’t get is why the scientists cannot give us some kind of definitive answer by now, it shows how fragmented they are as a community. Even during a pandemic, they cannot put their scientific bickering aside to be useful.
For those who choose to be kind while we wait for this definitive answer, here are my NLP tips for coping with a face mask:
- Our brain learns! The NLP levels of learning or habit apply. We go from being consciously super aware of the mask and feeling uncomfortable while dealing with it, to being consciously aware of it and dealing with it. Then to unconscious of the fact that you are wearing it, and eventually not even noticing it anymore. Just keep wearing it. I asked ten people who have to wear a facemask all day, and they confirmed this.
- For most, breathing through your nose inside a face mask causes less anxiety than trying to breathe through your mouth. In NLP, we call this shifting in way of breathing a submodality kinesthetic change.
- Imagine that your facemask is your “superman cape.” Any time you put your outfit on you have superpowers. You are the center point of all kindness, helping the world to become healthy.
- Imagine that wearing a mask is an act of kindness, something that says “I want you to feel comfortable around me during this pandemic. Things must be hard for you if you are afraid of me.” It is the ultimate rapport and connection.
- Imagine stepping out of yourself when the mask gets to you; see yourself with the mask. In NLP, we call this dissociation. Dim that picture and push it into the distance while making it smaller. Until you cannot see it anymore, then distract yourself.
Next week, 5 more NLP techniques to cope with a face mask.