The masks we wear
As a life-coach and someone that has done a lot of personal development and work on themselves the concept of masks is an interesting one. Masks is an analogy for our different personas or personalities that we use in our life to respond and react to certain situations in life. We may have one for our family and home life, one for work and one for our friends or the parents group we are part of.
You may of heard some people talk about it when they go to work like ‘putting their war face on’ or for some women the act of putting on make-up is the signal for them to put on their work mask. We all have them and I believe they can be a healthy way to act out our personalities when we consciously choose to wear them. I recently did an interview with Mark Stolow from Huddol on this very topic.
The Masks We Wear: Aligning our inner and outer selves
Are masks fake?
Some people believe that having a mask is fake and inauthentic and I used to think that. That having a mask is wrong and it is better to bring your true-self everywhere you go. When you think about it from this perspective it is not wrong. You question what are we really hiding? What are you not wanting to show?
And in truth when you really want to know someone do you only want to know them for their mask or do you really want to know the whole them? Do you truly want to know about all their shadows and darkness as well as their light? Will you actually unconditionally love and accept the total package of light or dark?
The reality of masks
Masks are mysterious and just like a fancy mascaraed party we would love to see what is behind the mask. In reality I believe we are only in love with the fantasy or the idea of the mask coming off. Because I fear for 99% of the population they will be crying “Put that thing back on!”
Even as I write this statement it echos of fear and protectionism, which, for someone who is dedicated to the art of personal development and the journey of within sounds like an oxymoron. But my take on masks is not so black and white as I once thought. I now believe they are essential part to our identities and keeping our natures hidden. No-one needs to to see your whole self, nor do they really want to and that is ok in some situations. Social media is the perfect example of this. People don’t like that you have multiple skills, multiple interests they just want you to be pigeon holed into some ideal state. This is, in turn, reflected onto a generation that feels disconnected and ashamed when they are more than what they say they are on social media. The self talk message becomes “I can’t say that, because it won’t resonate with my followers” and this is when the pressure of conformity sets in. Putting pressure on the mask, causing it to crack, fueling depression and anxiety. This type of mask is inauthentic because it is controlling you and this is how wearing masks garners a bad name.
Do masks have a function?
Masks have a function they make it easier for people to interact with us. But, what I don’t like about masks is sometimes we don’t know we have them or are using them, we deny them or don’t acknowledge them. This is when they make us inauthentic because the shadow aspects and beliefs embedded in the mask end up running the show and take us away from our best self.
When we consciously wear a mask we can put it on and take it off at will, this is when they are the most effective. We can use them as ally to interact with the world, protect the aspects of ourselves that others may use against us. I find them the most beneficial in the corporate work setting. We don’t always have allies in our work so from that perspective they can be helpful. But I find for the people who love and cherish us in our lives, who have unconditional love and affection for us – a mask suits no purpose. In these situations they become too tiresome to manage and can be a source of conflict in our most valued relationships. This is because when someone is in your most intimate of spaces, they can be more in tune with you and your fluctuations and they can sense that something is not quite right – they might start unconsciously or consciously picking up on that difference causing conflict in the relationship.
How do you know masks are running the show?
From my personal experience I know my mask is running the show when:
- I don’t get the reactions I was expecting when I am interacting with others
- Conflict and fighting occurs
- Stress and anxiety (in myself or others)
- I automatically react to something without intending to act that way
- I feel dis-ease and conflict withing myself and I can’t put my finger on it- I personally think this is the biggest cue out of all them
- Some forms of anxiety and depression
How do I know it is time to start exploring your masks
- You have a lot of shoulds and things needs to be done a certain way
- You feel like you have to protect yourself from others so you don’t get hurt
- You have beliefs from your past that is causing a disconnect for you now
- You don’t think you have any
How does life-coaching let you find your authentic self
Life coaching is great way to unlock your values and explore your core beliefs. For me the way I understand masks is that they are made from our beliefs or assumptions about how we think we should be. Exploring our beliefs positive and negative and re-framing them into values allows us to get our personal power back and connect with our higher purpose. We can shed the past learnings from our families and past lives that don’t serve us and keep the good stuff. This allows us to move out of the funk of anxiety, depression and feelings of being stuck. I combine my life-coaching approach with energy work such as reiki and crystal therapies to also help remove these blocks at the energy level to speed up the process. In my opinion energy work is a great way to remove the left over remnants of feelings and emotions that we are still holding onto in our body that we have explored through our own personal development journey.
Feel free to reach out to me and make an appointment if you feel stuck or out of alignment and I will be happy to help!