The word mask is described as: an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment.
However, the mask that I am talking about here is an emotional mask. This can effect: how one sees themselves in the mirror; how one believes other people see them and how one feels about themselves and their capabilities.
And this mask might have very little to do with who one actually is. This is a mask that has typically been formed through the interactions and experiences one has with other people. And based on these two aspects one then comes to the conclusion of who they are.
No Longer A Mask
If this mask has been worn all one’s life, it might not even seem like a mask any more. Like a real face; it could appear to be real and who one is.
A parasite has to rely on the sustenance of another to survive and this emotional mask is no different. However, what keeps the emotional mask in place is fear.
From The Very Beginning
One may have been born into an environment where they were forced to wear a mask. Having little to no choice; this mask allowed them to survive. Any sign or expression of their true nature was oppressed and denied.
In ones heart there may have been an awareness that this was not who they are. But due to the behaviour of the people around them it had to be hidden.
These people were probably operating from masks themselves. And as a result of living out their years behind a mask; couldn’t bear to see a person without a mask. So they carried out the same or similar behaviour to what they had experienced in their childhood.
This is not because they are inherently malicious; it is the result of being unaware and acting out their own anger and frustrations from their own childhood. And these dysfunctional patterns are waiting to be processed and healed.
It is here, that the fear of taking the emotional mask off is usually created. One might have been accepted for doing certain things and rejected for others. There might have also been spoken and unspoken rules for what emotions were acceptable and unacceptable.
These associations go deep into the cells of the body; creating what one feels comfortable showing and what one fears showing. Keeping the mask on then becomes associated with ones survival.
As Time Goes By
After years of enforcing and validating the emotional mask; one then goes on to express the behaviours that were safe to express all those years ago. Hiding all that was deemed inappropriate. One could then be described as an incomplete being; with part of the self being hidden and rejected.
Here one is also likely to attract people who also wear masks and who will only accept then for the mask that they wear.
It does not mean that it is only safe to wear a mask in the outside world; what it means is that people simply project their fears onto others. This is the fear of not being accepted for who they are. As the saying goes ‘like attracts like’.
There are also society’s rules and expectations as to how one should behave, who one should be and what emotions should be displayed in public.
These become part of the culture that a society stands for. This can create further dissociation and estrangement to one’s own self.
Although one might have worn this mask for many years, there could still be an inner voice or feeling that something is not right. That the person other people see and how one feels about who they are; is not actually who they are.
And along with this deeper understanding, will be the presence of fear. There might also be the expectations and ideas of others; about how one should be and how one should act.
Ones commitment to themselves will be tested and challenged. Will pleasing and gaining the approval of another come first or will one follow their heart?
There is always the possibility that one will know that something is not right, however there is also the chance that one will feel a sense of disconnection and dissociation from their true self.
From this perception of life, it is only normal to perceive life as meaningless and void of having any kind of purpose. One can then live from a place of mere survival. And this can create an incredible amount of suffering.
Once one has lost this connection to themselves, it is then only normal and natural to look outside for meaning and purpose. Of course one can be inspired and influenced by what one sees outside. But there will also be the feeling that something is not right and that one’s own expression is missing.
What is right for oneself and what ones purpose is can only come from within.
It could be said that there are two types of suffering. On one side there is suffering that is caused through the loss of a loved one or in the ending of a relationship for example.
And that there is also the experience of suffering that is caused by going against one’s own truth. By not following what is right for oneself and this can also cause incredible suffering.
Escapes and Releases
And to deal with or remedy the pain that is created through not doing what is right for oneself, society has a myriad of escapes. These escapes can only ever provide a temporary release. However, with the relief only ever being a short term solution; the original pain only increases.
And the ego mind through its dual nature only wants to look out what is pleasurable and will do everything it can to ignore and deny anything that is not. Here one of many defence mechanisms can be applied.
It is in our ‘darker’ nature that much of who we are resides. This is waiting to be integrated and embraced. For our wholeness as human beings depends upon the merging of this side.
Through the process of awareness one can become in tune with one’s own nature and the truth of who they are.
Another can offer their guidance and be a mirror, but the only person who knows what is right, is oneself.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.