“In the cellars of the night, when the mind
starts moving around old trunks of bad
times, the pain of this and the shame of that,
the memory of a small boldness is a hand to hold.” —John Leonard
There is often a need to show the world how happy or perfect you or your family is, otherwise known as the pressure to look perfect in an imperfect world. Working so hard to convince everyone that life is perfect instead using the same amount of effort to work on improving or achieving this semi-perfection ‘Because you can never achieve perfection in anything in this life.’
“Where do we find courage?… We listen to our inner voices, although maybe not always nor in the beginning. When stuck, we pay attention to our own way of knowing -that timeless clear “felt sense” of intuitively knowing the next right thing to do.We detach from our egos, lift them to the side, give them a rest, and choose neither to be seduced by showboating grandiosity nor torn down by people-pleasing”. – Beverlyn Cain
Unmasking or taking off your mask is not an easy task for anyone to do because leaving our place of safety or comfort zone is a difficult task. It is easier to fool everyone around you that you or your family are perfectly okay than to face reality, which is usually harsh and unpredictable. But there is power when you remove the mask and listen to yourself rather than your ego or your grandiose persona. Flow is bound to be disrupted when there is a blockage between you and your ‘inner self’ or ‘soul’.
“Autonomy is achieved when a person leads his life on his own terms.” – Steven Wall
How can you live on your ‘own terms’ when you are wearing a mask to fit in or to be accepted and admired by the masses. This is likened to a wound on some part of your body, which you decide to cover instead of treating, because of fear of getting hurt or being judged or isolated because of your stinking wound. Common sense will yell to you ‘clean that wound and dress it to keep out infection.’ Finding the blockage and fixing it will make more sense and it will be worth the time and efforts you will put it to it.
Wearing the mask is like a form of mechanical defense against unwanted criticisms, judgments, discomforts, shame, or just not knowing how to deal with things that happened in the past, and wearing the mask is the easiest thing to do. Sometimes we wear a mask to hide from ourselves. We wear different types of masks for different reasons; some wear a few more than others. The fear of letting others into your life for whatever reason is an innate part of human nature; some have mastered the art of removing their masks more frequently than others.
“In plays, the moment of transformation reveals changed characteristics or identity of the personage. Not only do these kinds of turning points change performer/audience relationships, but they also affect and condition the structure of the performed event, whether this be a play or sequence of mummin”. – Philip Butterworth
Learning to remove the mask can bring you a major transformation and alter your relationship between you and yourself and also between you and others. Not knowing how such changes may unfold may hold you captive, maybe this is one of the reasons why old age breeds such confidence to face the inevitable – there is nothing more to lose. Actors in theatrical plays only reveal themselves toward the end of the play.
Wearing a mask or portraying perfection to hide will not bring the satisfaction you are hoping to achieve. Modern-day innovations make this ‘The Masked Life’ very much attainable, but when a wound is covered up, it may be invisible to the people around you but surely not to you. This causes what Psychologists called Cognitive Dissonance. Internal conflict within you when trying to resolve discrepancies between your ideal perspective and the real perception of you or your family. When this occurs, one of two things will take place; moving towards changing your perceived perception to match your behavior (masked lifestyle), or aiming to return to your true self (your identified values, commitments, or behavior, and beliefs) by removing your mask to represent your true self or situation or circumstances.
A wound cannot properly heal if you decide to cover it up without cleaning it and dressing it properly. It may sting a lot, but the pain will subside if you continue to take care of it without covering it up for fear of judgment or pain. Like unmasking, it is uncomfortable, but it brings relief, healing, and acceptance.
There is another side to almost everything. Wearing a mask sometimes can be helpful and save relationships. For example, the mask you wear when you are emotional or feeling hurt in a situation or an event while in an uncomfortable place to let it out. Perhaps you may be attending an event and do not want to cause any commotion. Sometimes you wear a mask in front of your children to save them, confusion, headaches, or unwanted pain
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced” Soren Kierkegaard
Nevertheless, wearing a mask should not be an alternative for avoiding the truth or fear of facing the reality of life. Life is not sweet and free of trouble and difficulties all the time, yet learning to enjoy the journey with a little boldness will save more time and efforts from being wasted.
Food For Thought
- Be Decisive and be Authentic to yourself
We are sometimes surprised by the choices that we make. Looking back on our lives, we may be inclined to say that we discovered what we really cared about only after we made our decisions. Often, however, it will be more accurate to say that the choices we made transformed us into the kind of person who cares about what we care about. – L.A. Paul
- Spend time and effort trying to be consistent in all your relationships (with yourself, and with others)
- Be Bold – no one was born a genius
Boldness has a genius, power, and magic to it (Goethe)
- Unmasking is a process and so, too, is life
“If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.” Idowu Koyenikan