What Masks do you Wear?

I completed an interview with Tom Campbell recently and masks came up as a theme. I feel that this ‘masks’ theme will also be covered with Christopher Papadopoulos Nov 10th airing Nov 16th.

One of my thoughts around this theme is that we wear masks all the time as we try to be – or hope to be – someone other’s will like and appreciate. You know the masks I’m talking about: the ‘family’ masks we wear to try and please others in the family; the ‘relationship’ masks we wear to our significant other so that they won’t ‘leave us’; the ‘work’ masks we wear when we dislike our job/co-worker/boss etc. We find all sorts of different ways to wear a mask believing that our masked self is who people want to see. The problem is if we wear a mask long enough we get stuck in it. We can’t be authentic by dropping the masks to the people we know well and maybe even love because how do we change now after having worn the mask so long? Or we may forget our authentic self completely and just keep wearing the masks!

Another thought I had about masks as we celebrated Halloween is that people can often be more authentic when they dress up and participate in Halloween. We also do this with alcohol and vacations. Why is it we can feel comfortable BEing our authentic selves with some makeup to hide who we are, with some alcohol to give us courage to BE who we are, or with a vacation where we can experiment with pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones into our authentic selves or is it just because we are in a different place where no one knows us so we are able to BE our authentic selves?

Fear is the problem that we try to resolve through masks and it is courage that we require to free us from our masks or fear. Fear definitely is the culprit that helps us create our masks. We are afraid that we aren’t enough as we are and that we must be nicer, friendlier, and more aloof to hide our insecurities. And ultimately we are trying to be happier to please other people so that they will ‘like’ us and not ‘leave’ us!

The thing with happiness is that it isn’t something we can pretend. And it isn’t something outside of us. It comes from our ‘BEing’ level! It comes from who we are authentically. If fear prohibits us from being Who we are, authentically, and courage is what will eventually allow us to be our authentic self, then why are masks used to make us feel safe?

I believe what happens is that we are unconsciously driven by our fears and we eventually walk around like sleepwalkers, unaware that we pretend to be someone else. As children we were naturally authentic and often didn’t care about what others thought of us but this fear crept in as we were disciplined and punished for BEing who we are. It became so ingrained in us to BE this person who would win approval that we kept on the masks that won approval and this ‘stuck’ on us and we became the masked person and forgot our authentic self.

We experiment with different masks on occasions such as Halloween, or in alcohol-infused situations, or on vacations and we have more courage, and as a result are more authentic, with these masks on. It is also probable that people use Halloween (masquerade) parties, alcohol and drugs, and even vacations to distract themselves from feeling uncomfortable about their lives as well as to give themselves courage. These distracting behaviours can be expressions of addictions and although I’m not going to delve into our ‘addictions’ in this article it is still worth mentioning because it is fear that pushes us to resort to addictions just as it is fear that makes us reach for masks.

I believe we want to experiment to remember who we are. And as we experiment we feel like we don’t have to worry that others will judge us when we wear an actual mask on Halloween or when we are ‘under the influence’ of alcohol, or are on vacation when we won’t be recognized and won’t be seeing again the people we meet. Ultimately these occasions assist us to feel safe BEing who we are.

So how can we remove our masks and be more authentic just as we may be on Halloween, under the influence of alcohol, or on vacation? I believe it will only happen when we are aware of what we are truly afraid of and breathe into our fears to see that they aren’t real but only part of our ‘story’. It can only happen if we choose to authentically feel into our bodies instead of avoiding feeling uncomfortable. It will happen when we get quiet and connect to the ‘now’ moment and with our body’s innate wisdom. It will happen when we feel safe inside enough to BE who we are. It will happen when we practice BEing our authentic self and not worrying about feeling judged for BEing who we are!

We can do this and perhaps instead of seeing these masks as a distraction we can allow our awareness of these masks to transport us towards our growth. And we can allow our Halloween experiences and our ‘vacation time’ to magically carry us into new opportunities to practice BEing authentic. Let’s have fun with this and celebrate our uniqueness!

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