Who Are You Really? Shed Your Masks to Find Out
~ 2 min read
In our last article we introduced the importance of authenticity. In this article we will expand on the theme by exploring some of the masks that we wear that will make it nearly impossible to remain authentic.
In order to be true to self, we need to work toward there only being “one” version of ourselves and avoiding the tendency to masquerade around in different identities. If who we are and how we behave depends on the people or environment we find ourselves in, it may become impossible to know and speak the truth about ourselves.
There are many faces we can wear. They are all meant to keep ourselves hidden from detection and harm. These faces have developed in us over time and are intricately woven into the fabric of our personalities. Here are three of the common faces we might recognize in ourselves if we were to look honesty into our mirror of introspection:
- The Joker: The role of the “joker” should not be confused with the display of humor during a fun loving moment. The “joker” front is present when you make jokes in situations in which you are uncomfortable or are fraught with pain and sorrow. This is simply a way of coping with emotional discomfort.
- The Procrastinator: If you are the “procrastinator” then you put off whatever you find too uncomfortable or scary to face today. Unfortunately, delaying the work of the moment to alleviate your fear of failure or to avoid discomfort will almost always set the stage for more disappointment and shame.
- The Flirt: People will learn to hide behind being a “flirt” because it feels like a much easier way to feel secure than connecting emotionally and investing in vulnerable relationships. While you may have “bagged” your trophy with the intentions of feeling more secure about yourself, you are likely to be left feeling less-than and even worse about yourself afterwards. This is because you have invested much in your physical self and neglected to be true to your emotional and spiritual self.
These faces are but three examples of many. The faces that we wear were originally intended to keep us safe from harm. In the beginning they did just that. Now we find that the strategies we use to employ as a sort of survival tactic are no longer safe – they are dangerous. The masks we wear are not going to be removed by some external force. Fortunately or unfortunately we were born with free will and the job of removing our masks is ours and ours alone. The risks involved may seem like we are being asked to appear in public in a Saran Wrap outfit but it is really not that bad once we get started.
Understand, for example, that forced laughter is an illegitimate form of crying. The risk here is to let others understand that you are frightened of coping with the situation. The authentic you will learn how to laugh when something is funny and you will learn to cry when you are sad.
Procrastination is fear – in five syllables. When we procrastinate we run the risk of further burdening ourselves with shame that can develop when we avoid fearful situations or people. Generally the unintended result is a greater sense of incompetency than we started out with. You alone have the power to show yourself and those around you that you can be counted on.
Flirtation, of course, can be seen as a way of attracting people with little depth who are likely to run away from any true relationship. To remove this mask is to become ready to risk experiencing the depth of varying emotions like sadness, possible disappointment, and vulnerability. A decision to be more real will reward you with increased self-awareness, emotional balance and a great reduction in emotional insecurity.
Please share with us HERE what have been the challenges that you have faced in your efforts to maintain only one version of yourself? What have been the rewards?
This article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book “One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples.”
About John and Elaine LeademJohn and Elaine Leadem are licensed clinical social workers whose combined investment in the field of addiction treatment spans more than sixty years. Their commitment to helping recovering families has provided the core inspiration for the development of a "A Decision to Be IN Love"© which has helped many couples move from the traditional parallel model of recovery to strong united core support group. They are both certified Sex Addiction Therapist and have co-developed a model for treating couples during the crisis stage of recovery. In addition to being the co-directors of Leadem Counseling & Consulting Services, Elaine and John are seasoned therapeutic retreat leaders in working with recovering couples. As a team they have thus far co-authored three books:
Leadem, J. (2014). Who Are You Really? Shed Your Masks to Find Out. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 3, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/couples/2014/01/who-are-you-really/