Hiding behind our masks
Do you ever feel like you wear a mask to cover how you really feel in order to fit in or be accepted? Do you put on a happy face even when you feel sad? Do you feel like you have to be a certain way in order for people to like you? These feelings can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, depression or loneliness.
Millions of people struggle with being completely themselves. They feel like if they are themselves then people won’t like them. So, a disconnect exists between their outward identity and their true selves. People often desire the freedom to be themselves, yet more often than not, the fear of rejection or disapproval drives them to compromise their individuality.
People wear masks to cover up parts of themselves they don’t like. The more masks you wear, the deeper you hide your true self.
There is a popular quote that says, “You are only ever loved to the extent that you are known.” We cannot feel loved for who we really are as long as we mask our true identity. At the same time, we fear if we expose our true selves, we will be rejected. The relationships where we wear lots of masks are often shallow and unfulfilling, which creates a frustrating cycle. It leaves us longing for more meaningful connections.
There are many different types of masks people wear. The two most common types are the following:
- Masks to cover pain: These are the smiling masks you wear when everything in your life feels like it’s crashing down around you. Taking this mask off would mean facing and dealing with the hurt and feelings. Because of the fear of failure and rejection, people get uncomfortable and overwhelmed with the thought of removing the mask and exposing what they are really experiencing.
- Masks to cover shame: These are masks about low self-confidence or taking pride in material possessions. We hope these things or achievements will give us worth. We think these types of masks serve as a distraction to keep outsiders from looking at what we see as our flaws.
Ultimately, wearing masks attempts to hide our feelings of unworthiness and not feeling good enough. It takes deep strength and courage to take these masks off and be who you are. It is completely possible to free yourself. Start by sharing your hopes and dreams with a safe person. So, what masks are you going to remove to experience freedom and more happiness?
-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained
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