You go to work every day and do your job. To your colleagues, you appear motivated. Calm. Driven. All the things that are actively encouraged in business. But the reality is different. Underneath it all you’re anxious. Stressed. Worried about what others think. You have no work/life balance. You’re losing sleep. And with a mounting workload and a team to manage, you feel almost unable to cope.
Sound familiar? You’re a Functioning Fakeaholic. This January we’re shining a light on those people who show up to work day in, day out, in a way that would suggest they’re in a good place, yet underneath it all they need help. Nobody seems to notice what’s really going on with a FF. But we’re noticing.
Also known as Corporate Contortionists, these guys show up in a way in which they think they need to, in order to fit in. They’re portraying a personality that isn’t actually theirs, to impress their boss or peers, or fit in with the company culture.
I’ve worked with people that get up in the morning and feel physically sick at the prospect of going into work, but when they get there, nobody has a clue. This is all too common in business and it has to stop. Not only is it exhausting, it is extremely unhealthy and can actually make us ill.
We become FF’s because we believe that if we show up as our true selves, we’ll be judged negatively. Feeling anxious/worried/depressed/helpless/angry/frustrated/irritated/in despair aren’t ever encouraged in business. These emotions are seen as ‘negative’ or ‘bad’ and have no place here. With no perceived use or validity for our feelings, alongside a fear of being judged, we repress them. We put our game face on. We become Functioning Fakeaholics.
Rising Vibe want to change all that. We want to bring emotion back to business as we believe that these low vibe emotions are as valid and important as the high vibe emotions. We believe that if we create an environment where people can be honest about how they really feel, then performance will naturally improve.
Like a shaken bottle of pop, if our low vibe emotions are repressed and internalised, the pressure becomes too much and we can ‘explode.’ Talking about our true feelings loosens the lid. The pressure is released and we feel better, so we do better. If a FF can show up every day and do a good job when they’re feeling terrible, imagine how brilliant they would be if they were being honest about who they really are and how they really feel.
It’s important to understand the difference between a FF and ‘faking it until you make it.’ A FF/Corporate Contortionist is someone who consistently maintains a presence that is not real in order to fit in. They’re anxious and fearful of others seeing the ‘real them,’ which they believe is incompetent, unable to cope or a failure.
‘Faking it until you make it’ or ‘acting as if…’ as we like to call it, is completely different. Here’s an example. You’ve made a career move and taken on a new role which involves presenting. You loathe presenting. Right now it feels awful, but you understand that you have to do it in order to improve and become successful in your role. ‘Acting as if’ can be really useful here. In essence, you ‘act as if’ you’re confident.
One way to do it, is to think about a time when you are or have been really confident. It could be in a gym class or when you talk knowledgeably about your latest read in a book club. Think about a time when you’re more than happy to chair the conversation. Got it? Then bring this feeling into your dreaded presentation. You are now acting as if you’re confident so that you can get through it and do the best you can.
Another way is to think about someone you admire who is brilliant at presenting and ask yourself, in this situation, what would they do? How would they behave? You then act as if you are them in the presentation.
‘Acting as if’ can bring a sense of calm, confidence and motivation, but it is very much in the moment. After the presentation you can collapse in a heap and be you again, but in that moment you were ‘acting as if’ to get through it. Moreover, ‘acting as if’ isn’t a sustained practice and so it doesn’t bring the same exhaustion. You may feel drained afterwards, but the more you do it, the more confident you’ll become. You fake it until you make it.
You can even ‘act as if,’ around someone you may not feel 100% comfortable with. Someone you are intimidated by, or that you don’t respect, but who you need to build rapport with or influence in a given situation. Think about somebody you get on really well with and act as if you’re talking to them instead. I’ll even go so far as to put my friend’s head on that person shoulders.
There’s a big difference between ‘acting as if’ in the moment, to get through something and the sustained and consistent pretending that comes with being a FF. FF behaviour is unsustainable and can be utterly debilitating. It’s only a matter of time before you resign or become ill.
FF’s don’t feel able to get help because of the constant stream of unhelpful thoughts they tell themselves – ‘People will think I’m… incompetent/a failure/terrible at my job/that I can’t cope/that I’m weak.’ It’s these unhelpful thoughts that get in the way of us sharing how we really feel. Ironically when we’re honest, most people have compassion and empathy. We all feel low vibe emotions. We’re hard wired this way. It’s our emotions and our vulnerability that unites us and brings us closer together. If someone opened up to you, would you kick them out of the room in disgust? Of course not.
I was a FF in the corporate world for years. I suffered from anxiety and night time panic attacks. It wasn’t nice. Only when I started talking to people and owning it, did it start to ease off. So start noticing. Am I being real? Am I being honest about how I’m really feeling? If you’re a FF, have a think about who you can share this with.
Tune in to the people around you, especially in the workplace. Your colleague may have always shown up and performed well, but you know something isn’t quite right. Ask them how they feel and take it from there. You could be setting them off on their journey to feeling better.
Functioning Fakeaholics, download the Rising Vibrational Scale to find out where you are and how you’re feeling right now. Or if you notice a FF in your workplace, stick it in front of them. Have a conversation and let us know how it goes.