Most times the reason we often put masks on is to protect. Not to be seen for our authentic self. Think about it. We have to wear masks in different aspects of our lives. It is only normal to have your ‘professional’ mask in the workplace. Your “social’ mask when you are at a party. And then there is the mask we put on around family. Sometimes there might be the mask for immediate family and then the other mask for the family members we might struggle to associate with (you know the family members I am talking here right?). And to be seen with your masks is a very vulnerable thing to experience.
However masks can serve a purpose. They help us not to seen, not to be hurt and to support us to feel protected in various situations. Masks might not even be about us – at least that is what we tell ourselves. We might wear a mask to protect the other person. And if that is the story you tell yourself, that is okay. But what are you protecting them from?
The trap we fall into with wearing mask is that we start to identify as the mask rather than celebrating the freedom that some masks give us to move around in.
If you are feeling drained of energy it is highly likely the mask that you are wearing does not sit comfortably with you and perhaps feels incongruent with who you believe yourself to be. Maybe you haven’t noticed the mask that you are wearing yet you have this sinking feeling of unhappiness that follows you around like a dark cloud.
Perhaps you are even not sure who the real you actually is?
If any of these statements or questions have touched you in any way, now is the time to identify and remove the masks that are not serving a purpose of freedom or fulfilment in your life.
But to remove these masks, you first need to discover your authentic self. And if you do not know who you are that makes it all a little more difficult.
Asking the big question of “Who am I?” requires starting with understanding what and who you stand for. I invite you to look to your value system and reaffirm what motivates you to be the very best version of yourself. Question your belief system. Identify your goals and write it all down.
But where do you start. Well a simple place is to begin by making a list of words that describes who you do not want to be. Then reframe the words to identify who you want to be. In the reframe you begin to identify your values. These will feel exactly right and come from a place of deep knowing.
For me values have a greater impact on who I am then my beliefs. Beliefs often come from a place of social conditioning and easily change. Still we can look at our belief system and work out what might be a guiding force in our morals and ethics.
Once you have a list of words, check in how they feel for you. Look for a somatic response. If it feels right in your body, then the words have a powerful place in helping you to be your authentic beautiful self.
You might look at these words and say to yourself “aren’t these just another form of mask?”. And perhaps they are just that. But if you are comfortable and it feels right, then wearing these aspects of yourself as masks is exactly what I am saying is okay for you to put on. As long as you a mindful of their meaning and purpose then that allowing others to see these masks might be what is needed. These particular masks will represent an authentic part of different aspects of yourself. By putting on the mindful mask you have the ability to experience life to its fullest while being authentically you in that moment.
When the mask is no longer serving a purpose and you no longer find freedom or fulfilment in it, it is time to reevaluate. I regularly go through the process of checking in on my values, beliefs, needs and goals. I will then revisit the masks or the personas I wear in my daily interactions to ensure they are congruent with my lists. If they aren’t then I take time to do more searching. Sometimes it means I need to move away from those aspects of my life and sometimes it means I need to embrace a “mask” that feels more comfortable. Or as I have learned as I have gotten older, it means I no longer wear any masks and allow myself to be seen naked to the world. It takes a lot of courage and even I find difficulty removing all aspects of my personas in all interactions. Protecting ourself is natural. But removing the masks altogether and being real has its advantages.
For starters you will find it nowhere near as exhausting. Secondly you feel happier. There is a natural beauty to being seen without the masks.
I am grateful for the masks though and still feel the need to pop one on every now and then. The masks have given me opportunity to learn more about myself. They have given me time to learn how to manage my passions. They have given me permission to embrace all the ugly bits of myself and time for me to love them. Masks are not a bad thing. The key is to be mindful of the purpose behind the ones we put on.