What Mask Are You Wearing?

Since it is almost Halloween, it seems appropriate to talk about masks.  Whether we like to admit it or not, we all tend to wear them, just not the plastic, store purchased ones.

Here are five masks that people tend to wear to hide what is really going on inside:

  1. Bozo the Clown – Did you know that laughing is one of the ways people stuff feelings? You can usually tell when someone is genuinely laughing or when it seems forced and unnatural.  Many people hide their sadness and hurt by constantly telling jokes or making silly comments.  The appearance is that they are happy, but if we could see inside, we would find hurt, sadness, loneliness, fear and several other feelings that are hard to acknowledge.
  2. Einstein the Know it All – Some people use facts, explanations and data to prove that they are right and intellectually can defend any premise. The problem is, they are really hurting inside, just like Bozo.  Intellectualization is one of the most common ways we run from our true feelings.
  3. Egor the Angry – Some wear a constant scowl that says to everyone around, “Don’t mess with me. I am about to blow up and you don’t want to be the one that lights my fuse.”  It is sadly very effective at keeping people at a distance so they don’t have to reveal themselves.  Just like Bozo and Einstein, Egor is full of fear, a sense of failure, loneliness, sadness and maybe guilt and shame.  People tend to walk on eggshells around Egor.
  4. Weaknfrail Some seem to have the back of their hand velcroed to their forehead…as in “Woe is me.” I think of the character on Saturday Night Live, Debbie Downer.  This mask indicates that the person wearing it cannot handle any bad news, is overwhelmed and beaten down.  How could you ever ask them for help or support?  It is a way to assure that your true feelings of fear and inadequacy won’t be challenged.
  5. Perfectionista – This mask indicates that the wearer is exceptionally organized, rarely makes mistakes, if ever, and can handle anything that comes their way. The mask indicates that no matter how high you set the bar, I can jump over it.  I don’t need anybody and I will judge you if you do not meet my expectations.  Just like Bozo, Einstein, Egor, and Weaknfrail, Perfectionista is hiding a feeling of inadequacy, anger, guilt and shame and fear.

WE all tend to judge our insides by others’ outsides.  The truth is, we are all imperfect beings who have feelings and want to experience a sense of connection and belonging.  Our society and culture encourage a lot of this.  Our self-worth is often measured by the house we live in, the car we drive, our appearance the school our children attend or our annual income.

We are all worthy just because we are here.  As Dr. Brene Brown says,” There are no prerequisites for worthiness.”  Finding out who we really are is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.  Often that takes therapy and a journey of self-discovery.  There is nothing more rewarding, challenging, scary, but ultimately joyful, than finding out who we are and taking off our masks.