Volume 50: Removing Your Mask

Posted on 10/13/2010

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The bigger the mask, the better the hiding...

 

Hey y’all! I’m back and I’m okay (like you were worried, lol). Anyway, I have been stepping back from the blog to concentrate on completing my book: Knowing and Living Your Truth. I have decided to post on a bi-weekly basis until I am finished. I was going to shut the blog down completely; however, that wouldn’t be fair to those of you that have been faithful readers. Additionally, I get inspired by things from time to time that either won’t fit, or can’t wait for the book. Some things need to be said (written) now. I have taken to the habit of always having a notebook or pad with me so I can write my thoughts down as they hit. So, this is a post that fits into the category of “can’t wait for the book”. It is something that I know we all do in some capacity. It is something that, if PhD’s were given out as to how prolific someone is at doing it, y’all would be calling me Dr. Sillethoughts (or maybe Sill. E. Thoughts, PhD, LOL!). The “it” that I’m referring to is wearing a mask to hide your true feelings, who you are, or to protect an emotional scar that has yet to heal. Some of us have different masks to fit the situation we are in (raising hand). Well, I’m going to take the first step towards helping you (and me) Remove Your Mask.

Masks: Hiding is not Healing

Have you ever cut yourself? If you’ve lived on this planet as long as I have, then I’m sure you’ve cut yourself in some capacity. (Side note: I’m not talking about intending to cut yourself either. If you’ve done this, please contact your mental health provider or hit me offline.) Anyway, most people clean it, treat it, and cover it with a bandage. Did you ever wonder why some cuts take a longer time to heal with a bandage on than off? I’ve wondered this many times. It seems that the cuts that I just kept clean and did not hide were the cuts that healed the fastest. Well, I was watching a medical program one day and it said something very interesting. It said that two most important elements in healing a wound quickly are being kept clean and oxygen. Oxygen? Yes, oxygen. It seems that oxygen helps accelerate the healing process (think hyperbaric oxygen therapy), and bandages restrict the flow of oxygen; therefore, the healing process is retarded.

Where am I going with this? Well, just like we use bandages to conceal and protect our cuts, we use masks in the same way to conceal and protect our sensitivities. We may have been hurt (or cut) in the past, so we constructed a mask to protect us from experiencing that pain again. We may feel inadequate or insecure about our abilities, so we construct a mask to wear that suggests exactly the opposite. Freud would call it reaction formation. Wikipedia.org defines reaction formation as a defensive process (mechanism) in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions and impulses are mastered by exaggeration (hypertrophy) of the directly opposing tendency. It goes on to give this example: “Thus, where love is experienced as a reaction formation against hate, we cannot say that love is substituted for hate, because the original aggressive feelings still exist underneath the affectionate exterior that merely masks the hate to hide it from awareness.

Masks and Relationships

The problem with masks is that they don’t allow for emotional scars to effectively heal, and they don’t allow for the most important ingredient in a relationship: Consistency. Mask wearers are inconsistent because of the many masks in their repertoire. Their mask (and therefore their behavior) is dependent upon their mood, how vulnerable they are feeling, and the situation. Very little, if any, of their behavior is dependent on how they feel about their mate. The most important thing to understand is that confidence and security is what they project because how they feel is the opposite (aka, reaction formation). Additionally, while consistency is what they most crave, their emotional state; and, subsequently, their behavior is far from consistent. Essentially, the masks they have constructed to conceal and protect are the same masks keeping them from consistent connection.

Conclusion

I know a lot about masks because I have worn them all my life. My wife once described me as a chameleon – able to adapt to any situation that was placed in front of me. Adaptability is a great trait to have as life provides balance for all of our strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, if you don’t have a secure base for your personality, adaptability can be experienced as indecisive, inconsistent, and incongruent. I went to an AA meeting for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Do I believe that I am an alcoholic? No, but (B-ehold the U-derlying T-ruth) I have displayed the traits and behaviors of an addict. I have spent a great deal of my adult life trying to live up to others expectations, or a reputation that was created and cultivated by me. The anxiety and pressure of that led me to using alcohol as a crutch. I’m telling this to you because I am putting my masks away. Will I be a different person? Nope. I still am funny, playful, flirtatious, genuine, and generous (humble too, lol). At the same time, I’m going to add a few more descriptors to my resume. They are secure, consistent, disciplined, determined, congruent, and grounded. Removing your mask can be a scary and humbling experience. It can also be revolutionary. I’m taking mine off because I’m tired of hiding and not healing. My question to you is, “Are you ready to heal with me?”

That’s just my three cents…

Sill-E

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”


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