What is hidden behind your mask?

What is hidden behind your mask?

What is hidden behind your mask?

At a recent Christmas celebration event, I couldn’t help noticing that some of the ladies there managed to eat their entire dinner (wonderful Christmas nut roast with all the trimmings, followed by sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream) and at the end of it their lipstick remained totally in place. There was literally not the slightest smudge – as if it had just been applied. Over the years, I have been given a tip or two – apply, blot, powder, re-apply and it should stay put all day, however, whatever the brand and whatever I do, I cannot get my ‘lippy’ to last beyond the first few mouthfuls- probably not even the welcome drink for that matter!

I got to thinking about this phenomenon and subsequently concluded that this staying power owed nothing to the brand selected, possibly a little more to the rigorous application process but (from my observations), the most significant influence was directly linked to how these ladies needed to appear and be perceived by the outside world. Let me be clear, there is absolutely no intended criticism of anyone – everyone looked totally lovely and, on the surface, at least – completely in control. I knew however, that what I was seeing were carefully constructed masks that had to remain in place at all times in order for the wearer to maintain that feeling of control.

I use the word ‘feel’ here to describe this external appearance, presented to the world in a particular way such that it may hide what is going on beneath the surface – the inner reality of the person that they do not want others to see. The ladies I observed were not particularly well known to me although I had met some of them previously. As I noticed their body language, their expressions, the way they held themselves and interacted with others and indeed the way they ate their dinners, it became clear that everything they did was carefully orchestrated, organised and consciously presented in such a way to reveal only the elements of themselves that they felt was appropriate for others to see.

This triggered a set of deeper questions: – What were they hiding? Was this really them? Were they being authentic? Were the persona I observed reflections of true selves or constructs designed to hide fear and insecurity? I have no clue what fears or insecurities may have been beneath the surface and for the purposes of this article it is not significant but I knew with absolute certainty that I was seeing ‘public’ faces and expressions that also revealed the inhibition beneath their careful presentation. I began to wonder about this whole concept.

We live in a challenging world. How often do we put on a mask to create a public face, (in whatever way we do this) to hide what is really going on with us – inside of us? Do we do this because we fear we will be judged by others as – perhaps not being enough of something? Is that fear of not being enough of something in the eyes of another, exactly what holds us back in life? What does our fear of what others think say about what is really going on for us? Who is our public face really for? Is it us or them? Sometimes we use it as armour, our protection but what if the very means we use to protect ourselves actually creates blockages for us as well? Of course, harm, as we perceive it may not be able to penetrate our defences and yet, as with every barrier we create, the nature of that barrier is just as strong a defence against good – even against love perhaps. Can you recognise a mask of your own?

Protection carefully applied can be an impermeable shield against all forces. The construction is so expertly created on a framework of fear (founded or otherwise) that it is entirely possible to become isolated in our perceptions of what might be, rather than what actually is! To what degree are you holding on to a secret that you are trying to keep hidden?  How are you hiding that secret? Fear defines us if we let it and then, who we are meant to be becomes simply the shadow behind the mask. Every day we all create our own masks, our own defences, our own ways of hiding from the world. As we do this, the sad reality is that we are smothering our authenticity – our true self. Because of our fears we do not live as who we are meant to be. If we are not who we are meant to be then we cannot love ourselves. If we cannot love ourselves then by definition we are living in fear and not LOVE. When we live in love, the possibilities are limitless – and only then can we attract what we are looking for.

I think it is time to look behind the mask.  What do you think?

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