Happy Halloween! Today seems like a good time to talk about fear, conformity, and separating what’s true from what’s false.
The mask analogy is a good one: the ‘self’ that interacts with the world around us is rarely the self we are inside the personal world of our being. Sometimes it compares to a mask, armor, or an actor, playing a role.
In any case, the mask is how we wish to present ourselves. But what if we went through life without a mask? Without armor? Well, we would be vulnerable. We would risk getting hurt, being disapproved of, cast out. I think this is something everyone experiences, whether or not they are fully aware of it.
We wear these masks because vulnerability is scary. We can pretend to be some ideal version of ourselves, which protects us from criticism, disapproval, judgement. This is a problem, because on top of being afraid to show up as ourselves, we eventually start to believe the lie as well. But under the surface, we know the mask isn’t real, and the damage we cause ourselves can manifest in all kinds of harmful ways:
Low self esteem
Drug and alcohol abuse
You get the idea.
Awareness is a first step. Try to notice your patterns, especially the ones which cause distress, and trace them back to a feeling. When I do/see/think about _______, I feel _______. There is usually some unmet need behind these harmful patterns of thought and behavior, and often we try to get those needs met in a way that only causes more harm.
If you’re in a difficult place, asking for help can seem scarier than continuing to be miserable, but if you want things to change, you need to do something different. Reach out—to trusted friends, a doctor, a therapist, or to us. Shining a light on what you fear is the first step in freeing yourself from its control.
Take the step.