Please remove your mask!

In the light of our recent ‘freedom’, we thought it fit to open the conversation on who we are versus how we see & present ourselves to others. Surely we can all agree that in one way or another, this past 18 months or so has been life – changing.

Existing in this surreal period of time, has not only tokened the beginning of most zombie movies, but has given us more time for clarity. Realising who we are, without our creature comforts, beyond the societal norms that we previously had. Whether you found comfort in being alone, created new connections, or struggled without your normal social interactions…For the length of time that covid has been in our lives, it has left some appreciation for whats been lost. In the midst of that, we’ve also been aware of the many outside sources making vast decisions for us, with regards to where we belong in the world & what it means to be free.

We are humans living in the story of our own worlds. Throughout this pandemic, we have been alone in a collective experience. From the immediacy of lockdown restrictions, to the up & down waves of freedom that followed. Independently we’ve experienced an exasperated version of our lives where we’ve had to assess what we value, how we are valued by others & most importantly, how we value ourselves. Some of us choose to deal with difficult issues alone, even when we have many people around us willing to help.

So how does this relate?

When we think about people who wear masks… On one side we have our balaclava wearing criminals & X-men villans! Those that are hiding their identity to gain personal power, wealth & control. Within this pressured environment, some of you may have been or are experiencing the extremes of these behaviours right now. Sometimes its hard to see the damage whilst your in it, but acknowledging how their behaviour makes you feel & understanding that your emotions are important, is the beginning of change.

On the flip side we have our heroes…e.g. Batman & recently commended (Quite late in many eyes) our doctors & nurses, who to quote our government wear masks ‘to protect themselves & others’. They have studied & worked in a caring field with the intention of making a great difference. When thinking about the majority, we are discussing selflessness in its finest form, against a biological war. Yes, they are truly heroes! People who are admired for their courage or noble qualities. This type of complete selflessness for all, can come with a heavy price, the balance between knowing when to put one’s self first, is difficult for many. With our other heroes, there is a self fulfilment about being ‘greater’ than others.

In a recent discussion with a client, the barrier of the physical masks we have been wearing due to covid, arose. She stated, “I find myself just squinting my eyes to smile, they would never know if I’m faking it or not”. 

Communicating with staff in the supermarkets & awkwardly making space down the street, we’ve mainly been communicating through our eyes, known as the windows to our soul. The physical face masks, for many of us, are uncomfortable & restrictive. The longer they have been a compulsory part of our society, we have adapted to wearing them more often. Although now they are no longer compulsory in many places, they have become a permanent fixture, almost a security blanket in many of our lives.

Naturally, we all have layers of consciousness & do not lay out all our cards within each interaction. We might hold back our ‘wild ways’ in specific settings. Whatever that means for you. Prior to this experience of face masks being normal, we all wore invisible masks. Whether its to protect ourselves, from others or to present a better side of ourselves for personal gain… Different versions, for different reasons, but realistically we all wear masks!

When we aren’t feeling our best, there might be a time where you took out the ‘Fake it till you make it’ mask. The mask that helps you to plow through your feelings in order to complete a task or appease someone. When used on a temporary basis, this mask give the desired result to get through the day. Underneath it your emotions may be different.

The phrase that comes to mind, is ‘Put your best foot forward’. Putting your ‘professional mask’ on. For work is similar to having a ‘family mask’ when you choose not to swear in front of your parents. In the same way, we put our ‘best lives’ on social media. The people around us conduct a precedence to ‘put our best foot forward’ at a standard that sometimes differs from our own. In these instances its clear how the mask can be of use. But realistically…if we always had our best food forward, it would look for a very awkward walk! When everything is presented as great, or okay all the time, we can sometimes disconnect from how we really feel. We get lost in coping through it.

The reality is, masks become soo comfortable, that it can be uncomfortable to take them off. Without the beauty stores open, many of us saw the real us. Some of us embraced the natural beauty & others ran back to their comfort as soon as physically possible. Sometimes its bewildering that we have been wearing a certain mask for so long that we not only question whats underneath it but are fearful of what we might find.

Who am I….if I’m not that person?

The question is… what is behind the mask that you’ve been wearing most often? How long have you truly been wearing it? Does it conflict with who you truly are? The big one…Do you really know who you are?

If you answered No, it doesn’t mean that you’re failing. Acknowledge thats something you do know!

So as the restrictions lift & our world opens up, ask yourself… are you still wearing a mask? Are you allowing yourself to fully breathe & truly be free? Most importantly…. In this changing world that continuously challenges the view of ourselves & our so called ‘place’ in society…. I ask the question… Are the masks you don becoming a problem in how you view or like

yourself?

Note: Some examples of masks to think about

Social media – Dependancy on likes

Workplace – Changing yourself to fit in

Family relations – Feelings of obligation

Avoiding vulnerability

Procrastination

Block emotional difficulties

Insecurity – Dependency on make – up, dieting

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