So many people I work with tell me that they put up walls or wear a mask around others. They desperately want to take it of but that feels so frightening.
How Does The Mask Impact Your Life?
What’s It Like To Wear The Mask All The Time?
Not acting in a way that is consistent with your true and authentic self can be exhausting. You are always adjusting your behaviour to manage how others perceive you. It can also result in Anxiety. You may find that are always worrying about cracks in the mask and censoring what you say and do.
How Wearing A Mask Impacts Relationships.
When you aren’t acting in an authentic way connecting deeply with others is hard, if not impossible. Relationships feel superficial and unfulfilling. There is also a lot of worry about what will happen if the other person sees behind the mask. What if they don’t like what they see? The relationship becomes marked with anxiety.
What Does The Mask Look Like?
Start to think about what sort of mask you have curated for yourself. Is it a timid mask where you shy into the background? Maybe it’s an overly confident mask that at times borders on aggressive. What part of you are you trying to hide behind this mask?
How It Has Developed.
How Long Have You Worn It?
The masks that people wear generally develop and change over time. You might have been a shy child who would cling to your parents and this developed into behaviour where you avoid confrontation and hide your opinions from other people. Start to think about how your masks have been shaped over time and how long you have been wearing them.
In What Situations Do You Wear It?
When do you notice yourself holding back, hiding behind a mask and not expressing yourself in the way you desire? You might have different masks for different settings. The mask you wear at work may be different to the mask you wear in your romantic relationships.
How Does The Mask Impact Your Life?
What do you want to say that you don’t because of this mask? When you are hiding behind a mask your authentic self is not interacting the world. Instead a version of you is. This means that whole portion of your personality is not being expressed or engaged with.
Slowly Taking It Off.
Are There Any Relationships Where You Don’t Have To Wear The Mask?
There may be people who you feel comfortable to not wear a mask with. You can be your true self with them. Think about what it is that makes these relationships safe to do this. How does it feel to be with these people?
Take It Off With Yourself First.
Get acquainted with what lies behind the mask. The first person you need to take the mask off with is yourself. You could start to do this by journaling or meditating. Spend time healing your relationship with the true version of yourself who exists behind the mask.
Let Yourself Feel Your Feelings.
Let yourself be affected by your experiences. Give space to the feelings that come up for you and really get in touch with them. By increasing your emotional awareness you will be able to process these emotions and they will feel less raw when you decide you are ready to share them with others.
Share Your Vulnerability.
Find some safe relationships where you can start to share the vulnerable feelings that lay behind the mask. Let people know that you are trying to be more open and genuine and start to slowly share parts of yourself with them.
Be Gentle With Yourself.
Give yourself time and lots of self-compassion as you do this. Approach what lies behind the mask without judgement and with a gentle curiosity. Try to soften around these experiences and treat yourself with kindness.
If you want to live a life without having to wear a mask then therapy can help. Call me today to discuss your challenges or to begin treatment.