The Masks We Wear

Often in life we don’t get to see what lies beneath a person’s “good self” presentation, also called a mask. We don’t get to find out if that person really is kind, caring, or not. The discrepancy is often hidden. And that is true for ourselves as well. We all put on masks to some extent for various reasons with different people to help get us through a variety of situations.

Eventually, though, what we’ve hidden beneath our mask does manage to find its way into the open. It may slip through the mask in words we mean, but didn’t mean to say; in actions we’d like to take, but didn’t mean to act out; in actions we don’t take, but want to.

The Japanese say that you have three faces:

1.      The first face, you show to the world.

2.      The second face, you show to your close friends and your family.

3.      The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.

Why do we do this? Could it be that we have an absolute fear that if others saw us for who we believe we truly are, that they wouldn’t like or accept us? How many of us go through life thinking that we are not good enough, bright enough, interesting enough…. fearful of the opinions of others if they were to actually see the “Real” you? The ‘you’ who tries to hide all of this behind a mask. And, there is not just one mask, we have many of them – interchangeable ones, depending on the situation. The ‘you’ who bows to societal / family pressures and expectations for fear of being judged. But then, whose life are you living? Faking it is tiring. Living a life that is at odds with your authentic self will eventually wear you down.

Once you are Real, you can’t become unReal again. It lasts for always

Margery Williams – The Velveteen Rabbit

There is a beautiful children’s book called The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It tells the story of a rabbit who becomes Real through the love of a little boy. It is a beautiful metaphor for the value of authenticity and vulnerability. It tells that we become Real through our openness. Maybe it’s time that we become Real through the love and acceptance of ourselves.

How wonderful would it be to be able to allow our authentic selves to be seen by others – to feel secure, loving and accepting enough of ourselves to allow ourselves be seen without our masks?

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