In April of 2020 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended wearing non-medical face masks in public to lessen the spread of COVID-19. Suddenly our country had a new divide – those that adhered to these guidelines and those that resisted. We were faced with a new struggle- the question of mask or no mask?
In order for us to come together on many of these issues that have disconnected us, I believe the answers are hidden beneath the masks.
Several years ago, when I was a junior attending the University of Pittsburgh, I recall being captivated by one of my psychology teachers. She was a full-sized woman in her early sixties who seemed to have had first-hand knowledge in the field of human thought and behavior. Many of the topics she introduced from our studies had to do with her own life growing up in what she called a “dysfunctional family.” In one of the sessions, she made an assertion that has stuck with me to this day, she said that each morning we wake up, we put on our masks before we go out into the world. She was not speaking of the face masks that we wear today, but an emotional mask that prevents others from seeing who we truly are. For many of us, we spend our waking hours showcasing this outer mask that has nothing to do with who we truly are, there is a significant disconnect between our outward identity and our true selves.
As you are reading this message, you are probably wearing one of your emotional masks, and depending on the mask you are sporting, you will interpret this message accordingly.
We learned to use these social masks as young children when we attended what I like to call our “family belief camp.” In our FBC we learned how to please the adult figures in our lives by acting according to their will. We were rewarded for what they deemed as good behavior and often disciplined for the behaviors they perceived as bad. This is when we begin to create a social disguise as a way to move through our daily interactions with the various people we encountered in our lives. The different masks we wear in the course of a day works as a public disguise that helps us handle a variety of situations.
Because of our already fragile ego, we go through great lengths to show excitement for something we dislike; we hide our dislike for something to avoid hurt feelings by others or conflict; we dummy down our talents to make others feel good about themselves; or we may even hide the truth to spare others from hurt. We wear these masks because we have a strong desire for relationship. We long for connection, love, security, and personal contact. We fail to realize that everything we want in any relationship, begins inside.
Now as adults, we have a difficult time discovering which masks closely resembles our true self. We have so much of our lives trying to please others that we are unaware of how these masks prevent us from living a purposeful, fulfilled life.
COVID has not only presented an opportunity to slow down and spend more time with our families, it has also presented an opportunity for us to remove our social masks and take a look in the mirror to discover our true self.
Self-discovery can be our path to true love, peace, joy, and happiness. Self-discovery is the willingness to put aside the masks and live our best life!
Being more self-aware does not only bring more peace, but can also promote self-acceptance, clearer decision making, and allows us to see things from another person’s point of view. Self-awareness opens us up to people who may not look like us, or listen to the thoughts of those who do not align with our own.
If we would all take a moment and stop fighting one another and instead take and remove our emotional masks, we could then begin to assess our true thoughts, values, as well as those agreements we’ve made with ourselves that may not be serving us well in this moment.
This week take some time to
· Create space without digital distractions so that you can journey inside.
· Engage in Practice of BEing exercises each day by spending time with yourself https://youtu.be/mzmVCWtAhh0
· Journal by processing your thoughts and behaviors through writing.
· Observe yourself – reflect on your choices, responses, and reactions throughout the day.
When we are able to remove our emotional masks, we make way for the light of the world to shine through each part of our day.
Today, ask yourself mask or no mask?