Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
We all wear masks that hide or expose aspects of self. We have consciously and unconsciously developed coping mechanisms, personality traits, beliefs, habits that keep us safe. These Mask project to the outer world how we want to be perceived and that can be a great thing as it helps us navigate the uncharted waters of life or it can be the exact opposite.
These masks make us more appealing to others so we can get more love, attention acceptance, adoration, esteem, comfort or whatever it is that we seek. They also protect us from what we fear and unwanted feelings. The problem arises when we forget to take the masks off, or when we become so comfortable wearing a false self than we don’t recognise the real self when it shows up. The longer we wear masks, the harder they are to remove because the self under the masks can appear not good enough, flawed, unacceptable, shrivelled, diluted, unfamiliar, inadequate, or less appealing to our outer relationships.
Even though masks provide emotional protection for a while the cost of this protection can be expensive as it takes a lot of energy to appear as someone you are not, it is an exhausting burden that can cause anxiety, stress, depression. It also diminishes our ability to connect and experience quality relationships authentically.
Being maskless, welcoming our authentic self takes courage, and for some, the courage is only fully expressed in isolated, quiet moments or the company of a trusted few.
I believe there are two types of masks.
- Resourceful Masks are ones that serve a valid purpose, and they hide feelings for a short time. Imagine, just before you are about to present to a full house, you hear some news that evokes feelings of sadness. Instead of crying, you put on the happy mask, deliver your presentation, and then take off the mask and feel the sadness.
- 2.An unresourceful mask is those that suppress parts of self into shadow. They hide our authenticity for long periods, keep us stuck in avoiding, or in old patterns and wounds. These masks become a synthetic version of self.
There are many types of masks and whether they serve as a Resourceful mask or Unresourceful mask is dependent on how you use them. Maybe you mask fear by being a control freak, or sadness by being consistently happy or anger by being a bully or shame by being the perfectionist.
I have listed a few masks that I have used to lift my spirit and hide the truth. Maybe they are familiar to you.
Is worn by the good girl, doing the expected right thing, sacrificing your passions for security, suppressing the inner cry for freedom, dulling instincts, intuition, and soul expression. Here she is unable to ask for help and doesn’t recognise our own needs.
Hides unwanted feelings and fear or deflects genuine conversations from going to deep. When wearing this mask, no one is aware of what you feel, how you hurt or when your boundaries have been abused.
Must do everything exceptionally well for the world to be safe. Good enough is not enough for her. She is always ready and on the lookout for things that can go wrong so she can make it better. She is to busy to be present, she is unable to give herself entirely to others, and she is stubborn, obsessive, prickly.
Believes it will all fall apart without her; her selflessness sacrifices save the day. She starves herself of loving care, nurture and what makes life rich and fulfilling while giving it to others. She secretly resents her lack and criticises and judges’ women that have healthy boundaries and look after their individual needs.
Control freak/ Manipulator
Great at convincing others to see her viewpoint and do what she wants and if for some reason you do not, she will offload a guilt trip that is crippling. She is so confident in her opinion, she steals confidence from others through sarcasm, belittling, condemning, and creating doubt. She has everything handle and cannot stand surprises. Everything must be in its proper place to avoid the fear of the unknown. But on the inside, she is full of self-doubt and insecurities.
The people-pleaser will do almost anything to be liked by others. Her values are based on the good opinion of others and not on her authority. She continually seeks the advice of others and cannot make a clear decision or listen to her inner wisdom.
Even though she does well, her thoughts regurgitate ”you are not as good as you think, you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t belong ” She hides a quiet fear of being exposed and the world knowing she is a fake.
Being real, being authentic does not mean never wearing a mask. It means deliberately choosing which mask you wear while being aware if it is Resourceful or Unresourceful mask so, you can live an authentic, soulful, and prosperous life.
Whatever masks you wear, shed any false masks you have not consciously chosen.