Truth Bomb Tuesday: Life starts when we take off our masks
You are nowhere near as clever as you think you are.
Actually, you are probably more intelligent than you think you are, but you are not as clever – you can’t fool us as well as you think you can.
Many of us spend our lives behind masks. We decided at some point that we were going to offer the world a particular version of ourselves. We decided that we’d offer the world a ‘cool’ version. Or a polite version. Or sexy version. Or a strong version.
It’s complex. The masks we choose are complex and we choose our masks for complex reasons.
But behind it all is a simple idea – we think we can construct and present a version of ourselves that is ‘better’ than our true and authentic selves.
The tragedy of this is two-fold.
First, it doesn’t work. We can all see through the masks.
Think about speed-dating. It works. Why? Because we are incredibly good at reading a huge amount of information of incredibly subtle cues. We can thank millions of years of social evolution for that.
But you know this yourself. When you meet someone, you very quickly have a sense of whether you’re going to like them or not, or whether you think they’re a trustworthy person or not.
If I were to offer you the statement, “When I meet someone, I have a pretty good sense of the person behind the mask,” I reckon almost everyone would agree.
(Strongly Agree, actually Dymphna.)
So we know that masks don’t work for other people.
But for ourselves…?
This is one of those weird asymmetries. We know it doesn’t work for anyone else, but we think we’re the exception to the rule. We know we can’t be fooled, but we believe we can fool others.
So that’s the first tragedy. We put all this energy into maintaining masks, and they don’t even work anyway.
The second tragedy is that they disconnect us from authentic expression.
When you feel that you need to offer the world a masked version of yourself (generally because you don’t believe your true self is loveable and worthy), the mask become a filter through which all expression is directed.
The impulse to say or do something emerges, but then it has to pass through a filter that asks, “Is this consistent with the person I am trying to pretend I am?”
(Yes, a lot of this stuff sounds silly when you call it out into the light.)
And oftentimes, if “the person I am trying to be” is not clearly articulated, then the filter is over-active. Everything gets censored out. You find yourself not knowing what the right thing to say is, or what the right thing to do is.
And THEN!, after a while, after you’ve lived with an over-active filter for a while, your authentic self just stops offering up impulses at all. What’s the point? They just get filtered out anyway.
You don’t feel inspired to say or do anything.
You go numb.
This is a woeful state of affairs.
Because I say it’s not fun to live this smaller, heavily filtered version of yourself.
Expression – authentic expression – is one of the sweetest joys life has to offer. And I’m not talking about creative expression here – it’s not singing or painting or whatever.
It’s authentic expression – when you are speaking from your true self; when you are moving from your heart.
And to be in your authenticity, and then be in relationship with someone in their authenticity – to see and be seen – this is as good as it gets.
This is love.
But our masks, sadly, disconnect us from all this. They shut the whole story down.
And so it is a question that can and should guide a life:
How do I give less energy to my masks, and more energy to my true and authentic self?