What mask are you wearing?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks as the New Year loomed in the not so distant future. The last few days including New Year’s Eve and day, it was even heavier on my mind. We all have that “thing” or those “things” that mask our true best self. Unless it is consciously investigated from within, many of us default to these masks for years, decades or even our entire lives. They don’t even feel like a mask after a while – they are part of who we have become. Little by little, year by year they have crept into our daily routines and altered the purest form of ourselves.
Habits. We develop them for a reason; usually to either help us get stronger and elevate ourselves (positive, re-enforcing habits) or conversely to numb or avoid something we don’t want to feel (negative, avoidance habits). Like anything, they start off small – we barely see them as a habit. Over time, they get bigger and less easier to go unnoticed by yourself or others. At this point, they are really in us – we see them “as” us and we can’t see a life without the habit(s) so we spend copious time justifying them or just avoiding thinking about them. Even further down the line, we are so entranced in a life of avoidance that we don’t even realize we have compromising habits that are getting in the way of living our best life and being our freshest, purest, highest potential selves.
Anyone relating to this? I’m responding with a resounding YES as I have plenty of these. Yes, me. A health, wellness and lifestyle coach who focuses all day every dayon living my best life and helping others to do the same. I live and breathe this stuff – I LOVE it, and yet OF COURSEI still have my struggles that I bring the light to. Drum roll please! Because I’m human. As far as I know today, I’m still alive on this earth and have zero God-like powers to abolish any imperfections. I challenge you to bring me one living, breathing human walking this grand earth that doesn’t have something they could be doing better if they dropped one of their masks. Let’s all take a deep breath and acquiesce that we all have some things…and it’s 100%, no it’s 1,000% OK! Glad to know you’re human, too and I’m not alone in this – phew! Now that we have that little doozy out of the way (that we’re not all perfect, one of my most disliked words ever),we can talk a bit about why we hold onto these crusty, old, used up masks and why we struggle to shed them let alone see them at all sometimes.
Let me first start by saying there is absolutely no shame in these masks. They come with life, and it is actually part of our growth, journey and story to learn how and why we pick up the masks we do, and why, how and when we shed them. It’s an evolutionary tale, and it has no end. My goal, personally is to learn to shed these masks early and often. To look at them as teachers and to grow from the wearing of them and the shedding of them. To be able to recognize the mask when it is veil-thin and acknowledge it, take the lesson and easily pull the veil up to expose the purest “me” before it turns into an old crusty, hard to remove one. We all have a few though that indeed are thick and crusty – they are on tight and will take a lot of strength to let go of. It may take some chipping away and it may cause some burning and bruising emotionally and physically, but the good news is that they are all impermanent and we are in control of when we remove them. We just need the right tools. I know you’re probably thinking…well what “kinds” of things are we talking about? Well they vary greatly and will be different for every individual, so I figured for the case of this writing, I’ll use myself as an example. I’ll vulnerably share some of my habits that have become my masks over time. Some I have broken and lifted off and others I’m still in that process of chipping away at. My goal is to remove all the old crusty masks and know that the veils will come but my awareness of them and my “Self” (highest self) will be clear and they will easily be removed from then forward. My goal is not to spend my life in avoidance of any layer of mask that may come, as that would be fruitless, but more to be so aligned to my highest good and in such clear awareness of my truth, that I will see them well before they set and become caked on layers.
So, as for my stuck on layers from a lifetime of absorbing false beliefs of myself…where do I start! You see I have grown a lot in the last 5 years or so as I have begun a journey of personal healing and spiritual growth, however this stuff takes time. The good news is I have the awareness. I have been able to get to the core of my true Self, the one I once was before life begins to come at you, so now that I have been reintroduced to the most authentic “me”, I can see where I am living outside of my authentic self and where I am aligned. Please note, this alone can take a lot of concentrated work but it’s a HUGE step if you can get there. Now the next piece is learning to make changes and choices in how we feel, live, believe so that we can get closer…bit by bit…to our most authentic selves more of the time.
Some of my masks include:
- Being in Control: I fear the loss of control so strongly (of my and my family’s health, my and my family’s safety, my business, my success, my finances, my friendships, my relationship), that I over-compensate by appearing so in control, so put together, so organized that no one would ever guess I am in fear – every damn day. Beneath the surface I can be an anxious mess, but I want to believe so much that I am in control I will do whatever it takes to believe that story and show it on the outside hoping it bleeds into my insides (this is the opposite way of finding peace by the way and I even know this! It all starts from within).
- Being Extroverted and Social: this one gets me. I LOVE people and it’s why I do what I do, BUT I FEAR every little thing that a person might think or feel about what I do or say. Being judged makes being social VERY hard for me. I leave every gathering depleted, emotionally exhausted and rethinking everything I said and did and if I upset, irritated or offended anyone. I find it hard to make small talk with people I don’t know because I am judging every single thing that comes out of my mouth. But guess what? No one would guess I’m this way because of this old crusty mask I have on. I “look” like I am having the best time ever! One thing that gets me through social events is wine…I never over-consume, but it’s like I “need” it to get through a social outing (this is one of my personal big 2020 goals I’ll be speaking about alcohol soon, so get ready!).
These are just two BIG examples that are hindering me from living my best authentic self. Instead of leaning into these feelings – self-admitting and then looking into these masks, identifying their source and then slowly working to overcome some of the false beliefs I have hard-coded into my being, I simply stay stuck in the masks as it feels more comfortable than the vulnerability of learning to let them go and wash them away. These two are big and will take some time, but what I am focusing on now is being aware when I don one of these masks, noting the underlying feeling and reason. Speaking kindly to myself when I recognize I have stepped out of my authentic self and then taking a deep breath and quickly identifying something that takes me to a joyful thought or place of calm and peace. For me it’s on a beach, with my toes in warm sand, listening to waves roll up and back, the smell of fresh tropical beach air and the taste of fresh mango juice (now the featured image for this post makes sense to you :)) every time I notice I’m slipping into a mask. For now, this is a way to simply start noticing, building my awareness – not to shame or blame myself, simply to kindly notice and arrive to a place of peace and find my way back to a more authentic me.
Letting masks go can be so empowering and freeing. I challenge each of you to take some time identifying what some of your thickest, deepest masks are. Write them down and lovingly begin to simply build awareness when you notice yourself wearing one. Take a few deep breaths, speak kindly to yourself and find your place of peace and ease. Awareness is key and it will take you where you need to go. There’s no magic bullet here. There is no precise formula that I am aware of, but if there is a rudimentary one, it does involve deep self-evaluation, awareness and a willingness to lean into the feelings these masks evoke. The more you lean in and investigate the origin, feel the feelings that surface and learn to love yourself through letting go, the sooner you’ll peel away the layers.
As I finish typing this, I am on a ferry heading to a birthday party for a dear friend with a lot of people. Some people I will know, some I will not. To make matters a bit more challenging, my husband is sick and must stay home. So not only am I heading into an anxiety-filled event for me, I’m solo, too. So, tonight I will take this perfectly aligned opportunity to find grace for myself as I work to enter without a mask, feel empowered and proud of my awareness, and most importantly embrace the socially awkward and uncomfortable “me”. Sandy beaches, here I come…in my mind, anyway!
Much love to all of you, my masked friends! It’s time to unapologetically let the world see the most authentic you in 2020, awkwardness, imperfection and all!
Remember…love always wins.
Becky…with the Good Life