We all wear masks – most of the time. We have been wearing masks even way before the pandemic. And just recently, masks have become a symbol – even a statement. The popularity of this functional item has grown at lightning speed, and the face mask has become the fastest trending fashion item. But who are you behind the mask?
Why you wear a mask says a lot about who you are. Masks have become a symbol of solidarity, of keeping us safe, and most importantly, of protecting others. But it’s also a way to express ourselves. I have seen sequenced masks, beautifully embroidered masks, branded, animal printed, leather and surgical masks. I have seen people with masks matching their outfits, and I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of Christmas inspired masks on the shelves.
The danger of masking up is becoming indifferent and unconcerned about what’s underneath the mask. And I’m not talking about going without make-up, or the fact that you haven’t shaved for a week. I’m concerned about who you are behind your masked armour. It’s a grave situation when you’re so dependent on wearing your armour that you won’t leave home without it. And that’s because, without it, you feel exposed, vulnerable and disconnected.
Perhaps the biggest downside of the masked armour is the disconnection from ourselves and our feelings. There are many reasons why we mask-up, but mostly because it’s easier to disconnect from our true selves and our raw emotions than to open ourselves up to hurt, shame and fear.
How many people do you know that feel trapped in a bad relationship, in a job that doesn’t fulfil them, or in life where they feel undervalued and unloved – but choose to stay rather than facing the reality of their feelings. They have become disconnected from their true selves. How many people feel unhappy, depressed, or insignificant, yet, still choose to ignore what they’re feeling in favour of pretending that their lives are good. This is heightened in times of acute stress, and long-term disconnection makes us feel anxious and insecure.
We start avoiding situations that make us feel fragile and we armour up each day to avoid feeling fearful and uncertain. It makes us feel safe and in control. The dark side of being shellproof is that we lose the ability to feel love, belonging and joy. If you keep looking for reasons to mask-up, you will find them. Brené Brown says “you can’t walk through the world looking for confirmation that you’re not enough, because you will always find it. We don’t negotiate our belonging or self-worth.”
We all need to feel that we belong.
When we allow ourselves to be seen — when we admit our fears or self-doubt, for example — we connect with others and in turn give them permission to be themselves. In sharing our fears and insecurities, we find true relationships. – Brené Brown
So, next time you wear your fabulous mask, make sure that both sides are in balance: your true self and your new look. The moment you acknowledge your true feelings, you can start to work through them, and hone the positive energy of your emotions.
Wishing you the courage to connect with your true emotions and feelings.