The Masks We Wear

Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls, oh my! Halloween is a fun time for masks, colorful costumes, and pretending for a short time that we are someone else. In fact, it can be healthy to put on a mask and assume a character for a while to give us another perspective on how this “character” sees things.  It is always a good idea to envision several different viewpoints before making a decision. But sometimes we wear “masks” to hide our feelings and disguise ourselves so the world will like us. We wear “masks” so we can please others. And many of us wear “masks” that can be limiting or can hold us back because of fear. These “masks” are invisible but very powerful.

I wrote “The Masks We Wear and How to Live Without Them” because many people react to fear and pain and develop a protective mask, and they wear this “mask,” or in many cases a set of masks, to protect themselves so they can escape the pain and rejection they feel. They have been conditioned to react and behave in a certain way or else they will be rejected, isolated or shunned by society.  When I first sat down to write my book, I believed that we should remove all our “masks” and be our authentic self. After all, that’s how God made us; right? Every single one of us is unique and different; why can’t we be able to express ourselves in that manner without having to be fearful of what other people think. And, in a perfect world this may be true, but since we are living in the real world we have to examine our behavior. I interviewed numerous people on this topic from struggling students to rich politicians to convicted felons, to the average working person. Much to my surprise, I realized that maybe wearing “masks” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it might even be necessary in some cases.

The reason I believed we should shed all our masks is because someone probably gave it to us as some point in time. When I refer to wearing a “mask” what I really mean is wearing a label or living up to an expectation. For example, if a child hears his parents frequently calling him stupid, or loser, or you will never amount to anything, you idiot. That child will accept these labels or “masks” as a belief and will subconsciously turn these statements into a reality. Hearing these negative statements over and over again has an effect on our psyche and as a result, we will make bad choices and decisions in our life. On the other hand, if a person frequently hears, “You can do it, I believe in you, You are smart, You are worthy” the same will apply. That individual will accept these statements as a truth and do whatever he can to manifest it into a reality. So I came to the conclusion that all there are good “masks” and bad “masks”. As long as you are the one choosing the “mask” you wear, it will be okay. If you are wearing a “mask” that someone else is choosing for you then you might want to see if you are being manipulated by the person who wants you to wear this label. Bullies in particular, would like you to wear a “mask”. That is how they can control you to get you to do the things THEY want.

Here are a few of the bad masks and who usually gives them out:

Submissive Mask- given by bullies. abusive spouses and control freaks

People Pleaser Mask- given by other people pleasers and manipulators

Doormat Mask- given by bullies, control freaks, abusive spouses and abusive individuals

It’s All Your Fault Mask– given by bullies and abusive individuals

Loser Mask– given by parents or friends with low self-esteem and jealous individuals

Nobody likes you Mask– given by friends with low self-esteem, abusive spouses and jealous individuals

You are unworthy Mask– given by abusive individuals and jealous friends

I will love you if you do what I want Mask- given by abusive parents and bullies

Here are a few of the good masks and who usually gives them out:

You are a winner Mask- given by teachers, coaches and parents

You can accomplish anything you desire Mask- given by parents and teachers

You are worthy Mask- given by parents

You are unique and should be proud Mask- given by parents, teachers and friends

You are smart Mask- given by teachers and parents

It is your choice on what “mask” you wear. You can wear the “doormat mask” your entire life or you can wear the “I can accomplish anything I want mask.” It is up to you. And while you are carefully picking out the mask you will wear this Halloween; be even more careful to choose the “mask” you wear everyday in your real life!

Dr. Marla Sloane

Marla Sloane, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved © 2018