The Masks We Wear
Which ones do you wear? Do you know? Have you ever considered?
I love playing dress up and donning a costume for Hallowe’en or other spirited events (hello 70’s disco party!). And over recent years I’ve come to understand masks in a new and more intimate way. Not the masks we wear on the outside, but rather, the masks we wear on the inside. These internal masks are tools we use to navigate the world. They are like personas we create and “put on” to help us survive, compensate and attempt to hide our feelings of inadequacy and shame.
Our masks offer us a false sense of safety and protection. As I’ve come to understand through my own growth and evolution, any form of “safety” we employ internally is, in reality, an illusion. The perceived sense of safety we’re securing is often limiting and disconnecting us from whatever it is we truly seek to experience.
Let’s go deeper –
Here is an example from my personal play book. The mask of PERFECTION. It’s a mask I adopted at a young age. What I internalized from the outside world taught me that if I excelled and did everything just right, the people around me would be happy and I’d feel safe & loved.
Here’s the secret twist – perfection is an illusion.
(Yup it’s true – some of you might want to write that one down.) It’s unachievable. There will always be one more tweak, one more criticism, or one more choice. By wearing that mask I climbed on the hamster wheel of chasing perfection which led to behaviors that stole my joy, stressed my mind, body & soul and made it challenging for me to connect with people. None of which, in reality, led to me feeling safe or loved.
Other masks in my personal repertoire:
Can you think of others?
Know It All
– the list can be endless.
A visual that helps me make this more practical is to imagine a bus. Imagine YOU are the bus. Inside the bus sits all of the different masks you wear/personas you’ve created. Go ahead and name them! Sally the Sarcastic, Victor the Victim, Polly the Perfectionist, Jake the Joker….and so on. (It’s okay to have fun with this. Inner work doesn’t always have to be heavy and when we can lighten up a little about our tendencies, it helps begin to shift us into more self acceptance.)
Now notice. Practice being the observer of yourself as you move through your days. Notice how you react or respond to people and situations. What is a common comment you hear from people about your behavior? Which persona are you showing the world? Who do you notice driving your bus and why? Is that who you really want driving the bus? Or do you need to ask Sally the Sarcastic to step to the back for a while and take a break?
We have choices in how we show up in life, but first we have to be able to identify and become aware of what is and isn’t working.
These days I refer to myself as a Recovering Perfectionist. I say it with a chuckle and a smile, but it’s real. The more I’m able to notice and observe the masks I wear, the more I loosen the mask’s grip on my life and my experiences. I become better able to disengage the reality of who I am (a deep soul created from love….p.s. it’s who we ALL are) from my conditioned stories and behaviors. I’m reparenting myself and unlearning old patterns so that I can feel more grounded in who I am and what I’m worth, which leads to healthier boundary setting, improved self care, greater self acceptance, more authentic relationships, and more vibrant health & well-being. It’s in this way that I’m actually able to achieve the experiences I seek in life.
Exploring this more for yourself could mean the same for you. Uncovering the masks you wear can be a fun and insightful exploration. It can also feel a little scary. It’s something I love supporting people in understanding for themselves, to start lifting the veil toward self acceptance and begin cultivating a more loving relationship with Self.
Are you feeling the weight of your masks?
Do you know which masks you wear?
I can help you make that reveal and begin retiring those worn out ways of being.
As you consider this perspective and begin noticing your masks please share with me what you discover! I’d love to hear.
If you’d like more support, connect with me so we can talk it through.
A Recovering Perfection