We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be. (Patrick Rothfuss)
It’s Halloween and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about masks and disguises. I’ve realized something – it doesn’t have to be Halloween for some of us to wear a mask. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Halloween and it is a lot of fun to dress up in costumes and to wear masks. Those masks come off at the end of the night though. It’s those other types of masks that many of us forget to remove that are the ones that often cause us inner turmoil and stress.
(image courtesy of google images)
A mask hides the true identity of the wearer. It blocks essential characteristics which allow the wearer to be easily identified to others. Psychological masks have often been considered a defence mechanism designed for the task of social survival. People wear these masks in order to be accepted, loved, or ignored. These masks may also be worn to hide emotions such as excitement, happiness, anger, sadness, or even depression. Masks can hide vulnerability, truth, and pain. They can work to deceive and manipulate as well. (information courtesy of psychologytoday.com)
There are many of us who pretend to be someone or something that we are not. Our mask may portray someone who we wish to be, but deep down we may know that we really are not that person. We may hide behind a mask in order to portray a different image of ourselves to others or to hide our true feelings and emotions. Masks may be worn as protection, a sort of armour, for ourselves. Masks may also work to protect others from us or from our real personalities. We can hide behind a mask. It can serve as a shield to keep others from seeing the weaker side of us. Sometimes a mask can successfully hide our shortcomings and our failures. A mask can even hide our characteristics which may be less than desirable to others such as jealousy or envy. A mask can certainly do all of those things, both in positive and negative lights.
We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin. (Andre Berthiaume)
Sometimes we become so dependent on our masks that we use them to hide our ‘true colours’ even when we don’t need to. We may feel that our masks are necessary in order for our acceptance into society. We may pretend that things don’t bother us, when really they do, because it is not socially acceptable to hide our emotions about certain things. We can hide behind those masks in order to “save face” and to “fly under the radar”. Alternately, some of us use our masks in order to be confrontational about issues as our defence mechanism.
We may wear a variety of masks, many of which don’t, and have never, fit quite right: the perfect Mommy/Daddy mask, the good wife/husband mask, etc. There are constant pressures from the world to wear new masks and many days it may feel as if we are simply trading in one mask for another.
There may come a time when we need to strip off the masks and take a good long look in the mirror at who we are and who we are trying to be. We may have to take a step back, do some soul searching, and ultimately rip off our masks in order to feel like our true selves again. We shouldn’t worry about what we might reveal. We were all created to be unique individuals, beautiful in our own skin. We should be loved for who we are, not for what we pretend to be. And when those masks find their way back onto our faces once again, we need to recommit to removing them, at least for a little while again.
We all wear masks at some point in our lives. The masks we wear can be used in positive or negative ways. The problems arise when our masks become our ‘normal’ and we lose ourselves in the process of trying to please others. Being aware of our masks and why we use them can be the first step in better understanding ourselves and in determining who we really are behind the mask.