Who's behind the mask?
As some of the Co-Vid restrictions have started to ease in certain places and mask wearing is no longer compulsory everywhere all the time, it started me thinking about the masks that we all wear at times, to hide, to protect ourselves, to present ourselves, to camouflage ourselves.
We all use them, and they can have a valid and a positive place in our lives. We put on a brave face when dealing with adversity, a smile so we don't let our loved ones see when something is tearing us apart inside, we mask our pain, our fear, our confusion. Wearing a mask can give us confidence, in a new job, meeting new people, when facing an audience, making a presentation, we hide our true feelings so as not to hurt others in an inappropriate place or manner. And all of this is fine. It is a way of dealing with the world on our own terms. TEMPORARILY.
Putting on a metaphorical mask, psychologically speaking is fine in the short term; but long term use can cause untold damage to our psyche.
Wearing a mask to hide our self-esteem issues, our anxiety, our fear, our anger, our sadness and our pain stops us from being able to access all of our inner resources. The more we use a mask to stop ourselves from getting overwhelmed, the greater the reliance on hiding ourselves away behind it becomes. The greater the fear of stripping ourselves bare, the greater the urgence to hide away and keep those emotions away. We are creating a barrier between ourselves and our ability to care for ourselves properly.
We become immobilised in the cast of the mould.
Low-self esteem can make us feel that our true selves are not good enough to be seen.
Anxiety means that we are afraid of the judgements others may bring down on us if they see the real person.
Sometimes the masks that we wear can help to deceive or manipulate those around us.
Image is only a small percentage of reality.
We fear that if people see behind the mask they will not feel the same way about us - do they love us, or do they love the mask?
How then can we bear to present a naked face to the world? Why would we want to strip away that layer that protects us from so much?
Well, 3 reasons really, firstly: how can you live life to your full potential when you are hiding behind something? This protective layer insulates you from experiencing the world fully, it deadens emotions, it distances you from yourself and the people that matter. How can you be fully yourself if part of you is pretending to be something other?
Secondly: until you expose that part of yourself that you are hiding away, how can you heal it? How can you gain true insight about yourself, grow in self development, if you are keeping a part of yourself covered up? Thirdy: Aren't you just exhausted? Wearing a mask is tiring, keeping it up is exhausting. Pretending to be something other, in any way takes mental energy, physical energy. You are eating away at your inner strength, depleting your reserves by pretending.
You are better off in the long term expending that energy in exposing yourself, learning new ways to deal with life and healing yourself instead.
If any of this sounds like you, and you want help, do not hesitate to contact me for a one to one session aimed in helping you to identify where you use those masks, either positively or negatively and how to start to wean yourself off them and cope with the issues they conceal.
Sessions can be booked directly here:
Don't be fooled by me. Don't be fooled by the face I wear for I wear a mask, a thousand masks, masks that I'm afraid to take off, and none of them is me. Pretending is an art that's second nature with me, but don't be fooled, for God's sake don't be fooled.
extract from poetry by Charles Finn