Expert reveals how covering your true feelings can impact your health for the worse 

We all hide our true emotions from time to time, whether that’s telling a white lie to spare someone’s feelings or keeping something to ourselves to avoid oversharing in the office. 

But putting on a brave face too many times can impact your health, an expert has warned. 

UK-based author Frederique Murphy, who specialises as a ‘leadership mindset strategist’, told Femail that faking your emotions is emotionally straining and can lead to others doubting your sincerity.  

Putting on a brave face too many times can impact your health, an expert has warned. Stock image

‘You might have thought that faking your response was the thing to do at the time, but what happens when you do it too much? You actually harm yourself,’ Frederique said.  

She noted that concealing your emotions in this way is different to the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mentality that people often draw on to overcome challenges. 

Acting like ‘everything’s okay’, even when it’s not, can cause damage to your health. Here, Frederique reveals how it can impact you – and what you can do to break the ‘faking it’ cycle.

1. Overworking your brain  

Frederique explains that while people think they can benefit from pretending everything is fine when it’s not, it actually takes more from you in terms of energy. 

Frederique Murphy is a leadership mindset strategist, keynote speaker and author of new book, Lead Beyond The Edge: The Bold Path to Extraordinary Results

Frederique Murphy is a leadership mindset strategist, keynote speaker and author of new book, Lead Beyond The Edge: The Bold Path to Extraordinary Results

‘Faking a response requires more energy from you because your brain must further engage to make it work for you in a way that it is unusual for you. 

‘This means that cognitively, more effort is needed, and this is emotionally straining,’ the expert said. 

‘As you try to respond differently from the way you’d instinctively do, you engage more brain power.’

And when you lie to yourself in this way, your brain has to multitask with the information you sent it, meaning all its energy is not focused on just one task, and instead can only offer ‘split focus.’ 

She added: ‘Your brain, as powerful as it is, does not handle well multitasking, as it takes the 100 per cent it’d normally give you and must split it to accommodate you having decided to fake that response.’

2. Stress 

On top of overworking your brain, pretending you’re fine for the sake of appearances can cause stress because it produces cortisol.

Known as the stress hormone, cortisol affects your hands, knees, muscles, cheeks, heart rate and breathing.

It means faking it not only affects your brain but can have a negative impact on your whole body. 

‘The more you fake it, the more stress you experience, and the more cortisol is being released,’ she said. ‘This weakens your immune system and you are then prone to catching colds and flus.’

3. People see right through you 

And while you might think you’re getting away with it, Frederique explained that, in fact, people can feel when you are not being truthful. 

‘In those situations, your gut feeling is actually telling you that something is off; indeed, the person is faking their response,’ she said.

‘So, if you know you’ve had this happen to you, you know this has happened to other people about you. So, stop doing that as in the long-term, it harms you and the people around you.’


The expert said the key to quitting faking how you feel is to increase your self awareness and to ‘catch yourself in the act.’

‘Any time you do, you help shift this thought pattern behaviour from unconscious to conscious, and that in itself helps you take charge by interrupting it,’ she said.

‘Understanding this behaviour and raising your awareness eases you into accepting where you are at, thus creating the gap for growth.’

Frederique explained there was three scientifically proven ways to increase self awareness in order to become more authentic, reduce stress and gain control of situations  

1. Journaling your feelings 

The first solution was to journal your feeling, a process which is called ‘affect labelling.’ 

‘By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you diminish their intensity,’ Frederique said. 

Use Box Breathing to control your thoughts 

Any time you need to step back, do 10/12 rounds of Box Breathing and in 3min, experience its benefits: 

– Start by exhaling, fully letting out all of the air in your lungs. 

– Inhale for a count of 4

– Pause for a count of 4 

– Exhale for a count of 4 

– Pause for a count of 4. That’s one round.

‘Journaling helps you understand your inner dialogue: it raises your awareness, thus making it more manageable so you can work through it.’

The expert also said that journaling is a good way to make sure you’re not bottling your emotions up.

‘This strategy helps you gain more control by giving you the skill to self-regulate,’ she said. 

2. Breathe through it  

The second way to manage feelings is to ‘breathe through them’ the expert advised.  

‘Breathing is tied to your nervous system and conscious breathing helps you regulate your autonomic nervous system (ANS) by stimulating the vagus nerve,’ she explained. 

‘By controlling your breathing, you reset your ANS imbalances, bringing feelings of calmness and wellbeing throughout your body.’

3. Control your emotions 

And the last step to stopping faking it is to control your emotions. 

‘Emotions are physical while feelings are mental. Emotions precede Feelings (think E before F in the alphabet!),’ Frederique said. 

‘Your emotions are made of internal experiences and involve chemical releases throughout the brain and body, while your feelings are your perception of these internal experiences and are very much subjective. You interpret your emotions into feelings.’

She said the more your practice with these three tools, the more your are going to be able to rewire your brain and stop lying to yourself and others. 

‘This will help you be more in alignment with yourself, as you deal with your feelings heads-on,’ she said. 

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