Here in the United States, the end of October means one thing: Halloween. Last week, as I performed my routine tasks of going to the gym and grocery store, I found adults and kids alike costumed as cats, witches, and Batman. This time of year happened to coincide with a get-together with dear friends, during which the conversation danced around the theme: “Gosh, it feels so good to be with people with whom I can drop my mask and just be myself.” It got me thinking: How often do we wear masks? Do we actually spend most (or all) of our lives wearing a protective costume so that we can hide who we really are?
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It’s perfectly natural to want to hide certain parts of ourselves, especially from certain people. If I’ve just met someone, it may not be very wise for me to immediately tell them all of my vulnerabilities. There are people in the world with whom my secrets shouldn’t be trusted.
However, selectively choosing some people to peek behind the mask I wear is exactly how I get the connection research says I need to be a thriving human.
How could I expect anyone to accept me exactly as I am without showing them exactly who I am?
We need more connection than ever. In our increasingly anxious and perfectionist world, the perceived need to wear a mask, act perfectly, and to never “let them see us sweat” thwarts the human need to connect deeply with others.
In order to selectively choose with whom you might lower your mask, you need to know what your mask looks like in the first place. In the ‘Activate’ activity, you will get close and cozy with two different categories: the parts of yourself you decide to show to others and the parts of yourself you decide to hide behind the mask.
One of the activities I loved at the Six Seconds EQ Practitioner Certification explores this concept of wearing two different masks. Here is an adaptation of that exercise:
Draw two big masks on a piece of paper, one for how you present yourself to the world and one for what you hide from the world. Then, fill in the mask with words or images that represent each. These could include physical, emotional, and behavioral parts of yourself. This can be a very vulnerable activity, so take care of yourself in the process. Remember, this is only for your eyes, so you can be honest and open.
Here’s an example:
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What emotions were brought up for you doing this mask activity? It’s a human experience to feel uncomfortable or even ashamed while thinking about the parts of yourself you want to hide.
Looking at the two different masks, do you see a theme about what you deem ‘okay’ to show and what you deem ‘not okay’ to show?
Is there anyone with whom you feel safe enough to show the second mask (even yourself)?
Take care of yourself, and I’ll see you next week…
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