The Mask


I recall that delightful Jim Carrey starrer ‘The Mask’ of almost two decades back. In the movie, merely putting on the magical mask would at once transform the otherwise meek and submissive Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) into a brash, uninhibited and intractable guy with super-hero powers. Predictably the Mask was able to achieve all that his alter ego Ipkiss could only dream of.

The Mask

What if we could lay our hands on such a magical mask and make all our dreams come true?

As I think of this, I realise that I too have a mask which I wear. Where did this mask come from? I think back into my past to find an answer. Growing up, in school and at home, I was ‘taught’ to smoothen the jagged, impulsive edges of who I was, to conform to all that surrounded me. I quickly ‘learnt’ to keep my jaggedness and impulses under wraps for fear of being branded a rebel. This need to conform, to show up the way others wanted me to, brought the first layers of my mask.

At work, I remain conditioned to use the authority vested in me by my job title. Over the years I have ‘learnt’ to show up in set ways to demand respect and results from others. Day in, day out, this need to show up as someone larger than who I am, a know-all superior guy, seemingly in control, has made up more layers of my mask.

I see that the mask has served me to achieve outcomes. But as it has served, it has also hardened to become an intrinsic part of who I am. So intrinsic that today it is the mask which mostly ‘runs the show’, not the authentic me. I have become the Mask. That imposter strutting on the world stage, relegating the authentic me into the dark recesses.

What is it that compels me to wear the mask? What is it that makes me hide behind it thus? I see this emanating from my need to wield power, control outcomes, what I want to do. So I hide behind my mask, forgetting who I want to be. Yes, my “what I want to do’ has taken precedence over “who I want to be.”

Seeming and being

A voice asks. “You have had your way, done what you wanted to. Have your dreams come true?”
Pondering over this question, I can only whisper, “Not really…… I still search for that elusive pot of happiness and fulfillment.”
“What could be the way forward?” I ask.
‘What if you could redeem your true self from the role you have got conditioned to play? What if you could forget what you want to do? What if you could just be who you want to be?” says the departing voice.

But what would this take?

Am I prepared to embrace openness and be vulnerable?
Can I be non-judgemental?
Am I prepared to let go of my fear of rejection?
Am I willing to surrender?

Like Ipkiss, I decide to let go of the mask. As I negotiate this rarely trodden path to mask-freedom, I luxuriate in the myriad human connections, their love and sharing that approach the authentic me. I see now what a great trade-off this has been.

***

“Chronicler shook his head and Bast gave a frustrated sigh.”How about plays? Have you seen The Ghost and the Goosegirl or The Ha’penny King?

Chronicler frowned. “Is that the one where the king sells his crown to an orphan boy?”

Bast nodded. “And the boy becomes a better king than the original. The goosegirl dresses like a countess and everyone is stunned by her grace and charm.” He hesitated, struggling to find the words he wanted. “You see, there’s a fundamental connection between seeming and being. Every Fae child knows this, but you mortals never seem to see. We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”

Extracted from ‘The Name of the Wind” from the Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss, 2007

In learning……………… Shakti Ghosal

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93 thoughts on “The Mask

  1. Reading the first few sentences, I instantly knew where it was going. The masks we wear eventually take over. It’s kind of one pf the ‘what is life?’ or ‘who am I?’ questions. We all have different masks. We’re humans. We’re all flexible. We move so much. We’re all afraid to get stuck. We try different things. We put on different faces. We have layers of cosmetics on. It’s universal.

  2. This is one of my favourite movies. Probably one of the first that warmed me to Jim Carey. Love that line “we all become what we pretend to be”. And I guess this can be a good and a bad thing, depending on the mask we choose to wear. Who is it you would be if you could drop the mask?

    • Hi Alarna,

      Thank you for commenting here. Yes, the “mask” movie is one of my favourites too and possibly the one which shot Jim Carey into international fame.

      Coming to your question, ” Who would I be if I were to drop my mask”, I would say that I would be my vulnerable and authentic self. The more I have mused about, ” Who I show up as and and the origins of my masks”, the more I have been led to explore my own socialisation. To get some answers, I invite you to peruse another post of mine titled, ” Who would I be without my story?” I would love to have your comments on that too.

      Cheers

      Shakti

  3. Lovely post ! Reminded me of the Movie I love back then and I watched it like hundred times 🙂 Yes we all wear masks on our faces. We wear them all the time, but in our loneliness ! Slowly it becomes a part of who we are……success in removng this mask and finding the real self is victory !

  4. OK, Shakti, here I am again, fresh from FATman Photos! I can identify with a lot of what you write here about The Mask.

    I am increasingly angry about the great pressure that is upon people to conform – as you put it, ” to keep my jaggedness and impulses under wraps for fear of being branded a rebel”. I made a post recently, the title starts with “RANTS” – its still in my recent posts list, take a look. I am recently retired from work, and I am looking now for a simple life, and I am able to conform less – investing effort in the things I think worthwhile in life, both spiritual and material, rather than conforming to society’s bland expectations.

    Yes, I understand – WHAT you want to be has taken precedence over WHO you want to be. I don’t know how old you are, and how many years there are before you can cease working, but I think it very important that you start (maybe you have already started) clearly separating the WHAT from the WHO in your life. Think about the WHO, hold onto every new revelation about your inner self that emerges – hold onto that very, very dearly – put simply, it is priceless.

    Finally, your so important questions – Am I prepared to embrace openness and be vulnerable? Can I be non-judgemental? Am I prepared to let go of my fear of rejection? Am I willing to surrender? For me, and probably you too, these are so difficult to achieve.

    I can say that I think I’m embracing openness of my blog. I answer all Comments, whether good or critical, and am not afraid of making myself vulnerable in the process. And blogging has certainly taught me that we are all different in our outlooks and tastes, we are all individuals. It is not easy to be non-judgemental, but I am a little way on that road – maybe its simply “live and let live”?

    Fear of rejection is strong and I can’t ignore it yet. But maybe you are on the track when you mention surrender because, if we were to surrender, what is it exactly that we would be losing that is of any true value?

    Adrian

    • Hi Adrian,

      That is a very thoughtful comment.

      I would definitely go across and have a look at your “Rants” post.

      Yes, what I have identified in my questions are indeed difficult to achieve. And that is why I guess we get compelled to wear our masks.To reveal our vulnerabilities goes against that intrinsic “fight or flight” gene which we have acquired as a species over time.To do so needs enormous courage and self conviction. How many of us stand in that space?

      But there is always the scope of being aware of our own-selves and then consciously taking baby steps. This is precisely what you are doing and I need to acknowledge you for that.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment here. I appreciate you.

      Shakti

  5. Shakti, this was a great post. I loved that Jim Carrey character – but oh it speaks, doesn’t it.

    You were pretty honest in self assessment of your mask & your power in position – I appreciated that.

    Me, I’m tired of wearing a mask for work. I put on a pleasant face but really I’m not enjoying where I am A SINGLE BIT! I wish upon more sincerity about what I do every single day.

    Loved this searching article, Shakti. In learning… 🙂

  6. I think if we are honest we are all guilty of wearing masks… We often hide our true feelings … Blogging for me has helped me shed a few inhabitations .. Once upon a time you would not have seen my picture, revealing ME took courage.. being true to ones self is now what I try to convey.. And it took a long while in my career to admit publicly to Spiritualism beliefs for fear of ridicule from my boss.. ( Which I got ) … Masks I think we hide behind for many reasons,.. Some personal and sometimes because of how we have been brought up so as to appear to conform… To remove our masks and be different, or to be just ourselves following perhaps our own thoughts which others may disagree with takes courage..
    But since removing many of my masks… I have also learn to love what lays beneath all the more.. Myself… 🙂 for when we stop pretending to be something other than true self.. we learn to get to know our Inner self much better.. And Now I have learnt to like what I see in the mirror.. 🙂

  7. thanks for dropping by my blog 🙂 i enjoyed reading this post. lots to think about here. (and i loved that movie,btw, saw it when i was a kid.. and the cartoons too ^^ ) i think masks serve plenty of purposes in our lives… as necessary tools for compromise, even as defense mechanisms, to protect us from others and from ourselves.
    they can be good, they can be bad.
    thought-provoking post
    “We all become what we pretend to be.” i like that line. 🙂

  8. Perhaps wearing the mask is part of the human condition. It allows us to play our perceived role in society and keeps us within the safe constructs of our immediate circle, or clan. Anthropologically speaking, we might have been ousted from our immediate circle had we opined on rebellious beliefs or non-traditional thinking. Although it appears that now in our evolution, we are afforded the time and space to be different (though not TOO so,) and even rewarded for our individual beliefs.
    A refreshing post, and one I will take with me today as I set out into my own world.
    Warmly,
    Just Jill

    • Hi Jill,

      Welcome! Delighted to know that you carry away some of the thoughts elicited by my post.

      Yes, I suppose it has always been the need to conform and ensure conformity that would brought up the first layers of the human mask. And these first layers would have further attracted more layers to the mask till it became inseparable from who we are.

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment here.

      Shakti

  9. Well I think the fact that you are aware of your mask is a huge step into removing it being the person you want to be. Like you said, I think a lot of times we are raised and taught to contain our true unhinged desires and dreams, and told to continue in a more controlled so called “normal” path of living.

  10. Food for thought… Maybe masks make the communication smoother, but it’s tough when we forget that those are NOT us, just temporarily adopted roles… Hmm. Thank you for sharing!

    • When do you feel comfortable not wearing your mask? As you identify those moments and the people around you, what else shows up for you?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment here, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  11. Shakti, I wonder if anyone truly removes their masks while still alive. Saying I have no mask is, to me, just another mask. As others have said in this thread, we wear different masks as per the dictates of different situations and relationships.

    Since masks can be a protective cocoon, I wonder if the important factor is simply to be aware of wearing one. We can drop it without judgement when it’s not needed or feasible any longer.

    But there will be another.

    To truly love, we are called to vulnerability. So when we display or expose our dark side and/or our true self to a trusted soul, does that mean we are maskless? I doubt it. I have felt ‘naked’ with a man I loved and trusted deeply, but my intuition warned caution. He ran…frightened, he said, from the intensity of self honesty.

    I made career changes when I admitted I was turning myself inside out – going against my truth.
    I’ve felt very fortunate to be a woman because I have so many choices where I can express myself. I saw men fettered much more than women by a far more subtle and imposing culture within the corporate world than the one preventing women from moving ahead.

    I’ve been with numerous people as they’ve done personal stock-taking. Most of the women can hardly wait to get to work and report the results. The men? The can hardly bear to take the first step and face themselves. Both sexes sell themselves short in their estimation of who they will find at the end of the inventory. All who persisted have found beauty…to whatever degree they can see…but well beyond their expectation.

    You certainly have us thinking, Shakti. And feeling…the blend so essential.

    • Hi Amy,

      You know what? Through your comment, you have just followed in the footsteps of the great Werner Heisenberg and expounded the Uncertainty Principle of the twenty-first century! Similar to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, what I hear you say is that the very aspect of us observing our mask leads to our unavoidable tendency of wearing another mask. The very presence of ‘who we are’, in all our perceptual and emotional glory, ensures that we are never able to observe the reality of our mask from a mask-free space.

      I truly appreciate this great perspective you have brought to my post, so thank you.

      Shakti

      • Shakti…Heisenberg is likely having quite a belly laugh! Especially if he sees any of the philosophy that rolls out during my Justice course from Harvard. Dialectical thinking… See? There’s a mask I don! Not sure I can even begin to fill it, but it’s fun and reveals a great deal about how we, in the world, grow differences! 😀

  12. The mask! Who doesn’t wear one at one point or the other in their lives? But it’s somehow fickle and untruthful. I don’t wear any mask, I’m transparent and treat people the way I want to be treated.

    • Do I therefore hear you say that as you get older, your need to keep up the pretenses is disappearing? As you think back now, what do you see at the core of those pretenses which you held onto?

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment here.

      Shakti

  13. All of us weat the mask, whether at work or not. Most of us are not who we really are when we meet the world. We are who we want people to think we are. Why can’t we just be ourselves? Becasue we are constantly worried about what someone else will think of us if we dare show any form of weakness. The mask protects us, at least in our minds, from the ridicule of weakness. As long as we wear it in front of others, we are not weak, but strong. We turn to it at first out of need. Then we get comfortable with it. Finally, we come to rely on it. In the end we wear it so long it is hard to tell if we are wearing the mask or the mask is wearing.

    Whew! Where did that come from? Thanks for making me think a little. Great post.

    Tim

    • Dear Tim,

      That is truly one of the most incisive thoughts I have come across. ” In the end we wear it so long it is hard to tell if we are wearing the mask or the mask is wearing us.” Wow!!

      So as we think of this, what shows up about us and our mask? Could this have been the outcome we had subconsciously chosen? Could we see our mask arising from our propensity of ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’? So long as it serves our purpose, how does it matter?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment here Tim. I appreciate you.

      Shakti

  14. I believe our masks serve a valuable purpose at times. However, we can overuse them -as you so eloquently put it they can ‘run the show’ and in essence erase our true selves.
    Questioning, considering, and evaluating the use of our masks is an important step in discovering what is a good balance.

    • Hi Denise,

      Yes, the mask does serve a purpose. It is all about our showing up in line with other folk’s expectations.To what extent does this serve us and what could be the cost to do so? As another reader has commented, it can sometimes become difficult to determine whether we are wearing the mask or the mask is wearing us! As you rightly say, we need to be conscious of and strive to achieve the right balance.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here. I appreciate you.

      Shakti

  15. Without the mask, I might not fit in my surroundings. But I’ve found when I fit best … it’s those times that I create my own space, without the mask. Sometimes it takes patience with ourselves.

    • That’s a great comment.

      What you are alluding to is the difference between doing and being. When you wear the mask, you do this to conform.And how do you conform? By doing what others expect you to. Being on the other hand is to show up as the genuine you. You have no further need to conform and do.

      Thank you, I appreciate your presence.

      Shakti

    • What remains at the core of you being afraid? Is this from the apprehension that you may not measure upto other people’s standards?

      Were you to shift yourself to your own standards, how would that feel?

      How could you take that leap of faith?

      Shakti

  16. Having caught a syndicated re-run of this movie yesterday, I’m both surprised by the synchronicity of finding your relevant philosophizing of the idea here as well as inspired by the depth of your own insights.

    Despite your imprisonment behind a mask after wearing one so long, you have a remarkable awareness of being. Your eyes might be veiled, yet they see the veil as clearly as external sights, and clearer than most see at all.

    I sense a deep dissatisfaction of your soul.

    Call me crazy. I don’t mind.

    It’s bound to happen regardless of the path you choose in life, regardless of the decisions you do or do not make, in my opinion… We live in a fishbowl, we swim in polluted streams that bear no more resemblance to authenticity than a human bears to an amphibian.
    But does recognition of circumstances resolve anything?
    Would a different mask have taken over in any less of a consuming way?
    Even the satisfied organic farmer has his row to hoe. The greater his success, the more shortcuts he must make. He may choose only a minimal success in attempt to remain untainted by the world.
    Does his work become any less worldly?

    If you choose to abandon your mask, do you become any more you?

    The most compelling idea you touch on here is that the character of our mask, or the lack of character with which our mask causes us to behave, is unique to the mask itself rather than an intrinsic function of our adaptation to societal circumstances.

    If you wore the mask like an actor wears a role, could you kill two birds with one stone? Or is the mask definitively the problem?

    Just curious. Great stuff here. 🙂

    • Dear Brandy,

      Thank you for your comment. What a treasure trove of thoughts you have brought in here!

      You are indeed intuitive when you say that you sense a deep dis-satisfaction in my soul. I suppose it is only such dis-satisfaction that heightens one’s awareness of the multiplicity of masks that one is forced to wear in a bid to conform, to ‘show up’ in line with others’ expectation and generally remain aligned with the society at large.

      I love that analogy of swimming in polluted streams. Indeed , if this be our environment, what purpose could be served by reverting to the authentic self? Would that authentic self be able to align with the ‘pollution’ all around? But does this mean that we choose to remain triangulated within that fish bowl? An endless cycle of hopelessness……

      So what could be the way forward? We need to make a beginning. May be what is warranted is a graduated unpeeling of the mask to allow us to get acclimatized to what is out there. Would this lead to us changing one mask for another? May be yes.

      Have I allowed my mind to run riot here?

      Cheers and Blessings

      Shakti

  17. Thank you for letting us see behind your mask. As always, you give us essential thoughts to ponder. I didn’t realize how masked I was until I was fortunate enough to meet someone to whom I could open myself completely. I’ve found that my chief motivations for putting on a mask are fear, expediency, and conformity, none of which are great reasons.

      • That’s hard to explain. We have a connection like none I’ve experienced before, and it happened rather quickly. The word “mystical” comes to mind, but it has become almost cliché, so I hesitate to use it. Somehow, I knew I could trust this person without any reservation, and that trust has been borne out to this day. I feel blessed to have such a friend, and have learned much about myself (such as how often I wear masks) because of this special relationship.

  18. Awareness of wearing a mask or masks is the first necessary step towards removing it, if this is the objective. We all wear masks either as learned behaviors, accepted conventions, our own safe-guards … sometimes peeling those layers back might do more harm than good. But if and when we find ourselves suffocating under our masks, when the pain of wearing them becomes greater than the pain of removing them … then we rip them off – for better or worse.

    • Hi Daniela,

      Love your comment.

      Yes, holding the awareness that we indeed have a mask on is the first step.You are also right that “peeling those layers” can be initially uncomfortable and seem harmful.So we may prefer to keep the mask on seeing this as a less risky, less vulnerable option. But do we also hold the awareness of the costs to us going forward in terms of reduced energy, lower interpersonal reationships, happiness etc? As we do this trade-of, the path may to take may become clearer.

      Cheers

      Shakti

  19. Isn’t a mask the vestment of the soul? Or is it a denotation of anonymity?
    Readers can often see behind a writer’s mask, but can the writer see beyond the readers’ mask as well? With a little effort, I believe it is possible. The musings in this blog is a vindication of that belief. Thanks for posting it.

    • Hi Saibal,

      That is a great perspective you bring in, something which I had not delved into. But my intuition does seem to say that the way we show up to the outside world does have a lot to do with our intentions.

      Thank you, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  20. Hi Shakti,
    I too have tried, with some success, to shed my mask. I have dealt with three of the issues, but, with vulnerability comes the ability to love and the ability to feel emotional pain. That is a difficult place to be. Through meditation I can find peace, but not a lasting peace. It will be a long journey, with a lot of concentration, to find that ideal place of inner peace and tranquility.

    Cheers,
    Dennis

  21. I tried for many years to wear a mask, but it kept falling off. 😉 Our true selves are revealed eventually. I think you will be delighted by who you see once yours come off. Warmest Wishes.

  22. Really like this post, we often do not like to be ourselves specially around love ones, we behave in the way they want us too, we tend to put mask everywhere, there are different ones for different occasions I am one that admits it, but for me I am in a period of change I no longer want to were mask it is very hard to achieve it since we were educated to act a certain way it starts when we are children they tell us what to do and how to act. I love people who do not wear mask who are crazy and love life and I think you are one of them:

    I got an award and made a poem about me…

    http://miartedoris.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/award-seven-things-about-me/

    • Hi Doris,

      At the outset let me acknowledge you for the strong and passionate person you are. I see this from your poem.

      Thank you also for your kind and thoughtful comment on my post. I am delighted to know that you have reached a space where you no longer need to wear a mask. But you would still need to show up in different ways to different sets of people. This is not really about you but about them as you show up in a manner that optimises your interface with them. To that extent the mask would still be there, don’t you think?

      Blessings.

      Shakti

      • Actually no I will tell you something that change my life my father had cancer some 13 years ago he died 6 years ago and all that I lived with him made me change I stop with the masks, my friends changed, my work changed, everything changed, I am been me, lost a lot of people in my life even family but they want me to be something I am not life is to short to live a life that is not yours, if I make others happy by being who they want me to be I lose their respect, I want to be love for who am. The most important love is self love all the rest falls in place.

  23. Ah Shakti … everything that you tackle and write about is filled with thoughtfulness and caring for your fellow man/woman.

    I have been on my own emotionally since a small child. Today I am not as I have a wonderful soulmate. But growing up emotionally was tough as a youngster. My parents both endured WWII. War shapes people in a terrible way most often – with little chance of healing (if the war was long ago). My way of navigating my youth and the rest of my life has always been to force this shy person OUT of her SHELL. No mask here. Somehow, so rejected by my parents I do believe that I was going to somehow force acceptance elsewhere. So, I was a relatively “in your face” person. Or, as my husband likes to say: “Liz has no filters.” I am not a conformer. Saluting you for your wondrous words – always a pleasure to read!

    • Thank you Liz. That is wondrous acknowledgement indeed.

      Would you say that when you show up as a “in your face” person, that also could be a conditioned response? A way of showing up to the outside world which serves you. Could it be that the very aspect of being “without filters” is a filter itself?

      I loved the way you are able to link “who you are” today to your childhood experiences and socialisation. This no doubt is the ideal way to become the “best person you can be.” As you go on this journey, you retain the freedom to wear the mask you wish to.

      Blessings

      Shakti

  24. Shakti, I bet you’d like Don Miguel Ruiz’s THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, if you’ve not read it. He speaks to this very thing.

    I feel for men, honestly. As a woman, we are natural multitaskers, so perhaps we find it easier to slip in and out of disguise – at least that’s been my experience. My husband, on the other hand, is such a good provider, is so focused on work (which he loves) – that from time to time I find myself reminding him “you are working so we can have a good, full life, not living to work.” And he gets it, right away. I think it’s important to keep reminding oneself why we work. Yes, it’s important to enjoy what we do, if possible, but it’s not the end-all. For me at this time of my life particularly, I review my priorities, from time to time, with the thought, ” do I want to die with any undones? Any regrets?” It keeps me focused on what’s important, as well. For, as Rothfuss points out, we all become what we pretend to be. How true!

    Peace. Great post, by the way!

    • Bela,

      No I have not read ‘The Four Agreements” though I seem to have heard of it in one of my classes. I would try and look it up.

      You do bring in an intriguing possibility to the aspect of ” Mask Wearing” in having an ability to “slip in and out” as you say. I suppose to some extent this could be possible. But when we try to “show up” as the more the authentic self for a brief period, have we really removed the mask? Or just pretending to have done so? To me , pretending to have become our authentic self is in fact one more layer of our mask, making it deeper. I believe that as the person wearing the mask, this is how it would look like to me, in fact driving me into an even more less authentic space.

      As another reader has commented here, ” We wear different masks for the different worlds that we reside in.” When you speak of the aspect of women being natural multi-taskers, I suppose this is what you are alluding to.

      Thank you for a great comment, I appreciate you.

      Shakti

      • Yes, your reader explained it better than me. Masks sometimes provide a bit of a boundary when we don’t want to reveal ourselves all at once in what might be unsafe or unclear circumstances. I’ve written a bit about this, as I never was good at being other than who I was and am. But I’m getting better, so even circumspection is a mask, of sorts – if that makes sense. It’s not a lack of authenticity at all to me, it’s simply different ways of expressing my essence to different people in different situations. Again, I personally have found I’ve set myself up as a target when I reveal too much to the wrong people, so I’ve had to learn to step back (behind the mask a bit, as it were?).

        Another point is that I think if we have LOST our essence, it’s valuable to keep donning ‘masks’ until we discover what resonates with our spirit, deep within. You know the saying, “fake it ’til you make it?” That’s kind of what I mean. (This from years of counseling people who really felt as though they didn’t even know who they were anymore, they had spent so long ‘trying to be someone else’ for whomever – spouse, lover, job, etc.)

        I hope this clarifies my sentiments a bit. And thanks so much for your feedback on my own similar post! I, too, value your presence on this planet. Aloha!

      • Bela,

        I need to again acknowledge you for this great wisdom that you have brought here. ‘As we become unsure of our essence, it indeed can be vital to keep donning masks till we rediscover ourselves.’ I agree.

        But the thought that comes to me now is, “What was it that made me lose my essence?” As I think of this, I realise that one of the ways I “lose” our authentic self is when I have become conditioned to wear my mask for too long. As Bast say, ” We all become what we pretend to be.” So as we become the pretender, we lose our essence.

        Do you see how this logic has brought us full circle back? It is the mask which makes us lose our essence and when we lose our essence , we need to wear our mask. So we are now in a self perpetuating cycle without escape..

        I suppose we reach a point when we need to start removing the mask, irrespective of whether we have found our essence or not. We have to break out of that cycle!

        I appreciate you.

        Shakti

      • Yes! Breaking people free of masks is pretty much what I’ve done professionally for over 25 years 😉 The process is painful, it can’t be denied. But if we are called by some inner prompting, it’s clear it is time to embark on the journey.

        It’s funny, I’ve been singing an old Brewer & Shipley song since I wrote my last post wherein I mentioned a line from their song Working on the Well. Now another line comes to mind:

        Oh Captain Captain
        Waging wars on the open sea
        You might conquer the whole world
        And not become what you need to be …

        …and the song culminates:

        Oh bother brother
        I’ve got the same old story to tell
        We’ve got to fill the cup with love
        And keep working on the well ….

        I think once we truly love ourselves – and how can we do this if we have not taken off the mask(s)? – if we truly, humbly love ourselves, we are nudging shoulders with essence … we begin to fill that well and it no longer matters so much what others think or say.

        And this is not idle chatter – my life has been fraught with challenges in coming back to myself. I would say yes, ‘we become what we pretend to be’ – and then we slip into those long-forgotten shoes. For really, isn’t the essence of every human being love? After we drop all the masks we wear for acceptance as children and even as mates, when we drop our defenses we find an amazing, vibrant spirit living underneath. It is to this spirit I pray all return who seek to find.

        I appreciate you as well, Shakti. For sure.

  25. Awesome post…I hear a lot of what you say here, and relate and empathize. It does relate to what I was talking about in my post about breaking, a need to break to reach a more authentic and vulnerable level, a deep desire for that although fear too. Thanks for commenting on my blog the other day. I saw you also comment on two people who read my blog and I read theirs…curious, how did you come across my blog? Was it through one of the people I am connected to on here, or was it me you came across first through a tag and then connected with the others?

  26. Interesting subject you bring to us. Persona, I think, can be translated into mask from the Latin – the image we create and develop as the most perfect person we can project out into our many worlds. It becomes our ‘Rock’ which we use as a foundation to survive in this world but for some it becomes the rock that crushes and smashes them – fortunately!! I think it is not so much who we ‘want to be’ that the mask obstructs but more the mask eclipses who we really are. So for me it it perhaps more likened to re-discovering who I am – who I was created to be. Although I do tend to look back at why I designed myself as I did I believe also that it does not help to know why but just transform myself to who I really am. To become true to type!! The temptation can be to somehow re-model our masks rather than take it off – hence just creating another prison for our true self! I could rave on for hours on this but will not. Thanks Shakti – really well written and I will re-read and contemplate on some of the many truths you have through this blog!!
    Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      What a delight to see you here and reading your thoughtful comment. You are right when you say that the primary purpose of our masks is to show up as that ‘perfect me’as perceived by others. This mask creation is thus an attempt by me to ‘reflect’ what I believe others would like me to be. Do we therefore see a shift of control from myself to others?

      As you have so astutely put it, we live in many worlds and our masks for each one is different. We may choose to remove the mask in one world but not in another.

      What also jumps out at me from your comment is, “So for me it it perhaps more likened to re-discovering who I am – who I was created to be.’ This indeed is the essence.

      Thank you, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  27. Great piece of writing, Shakti. To let down your mask and be your true self, is the best thing that ever could happen to me. I was starting yoga a long time ago and little by little the mask fell of and made place for acceptance of who I am, inner peace, and letting go of externalities. This is me and by being me and, most important, loving me, I can embrace life and loving others. I’m still learning, but I’m on my way to freedom and my authentic self and it’s a relief. Have a wonderful Thursday 🙂

    • Thank you! To be able to hold the awareness of how you could “let go” of your mask little by little as you did your yoga is powerful indeed. As your mask fell of to allow the authentic “you” to surface, how did that look to you?

      I would like to acknowledge you for the the way you learnt to embrace and love life and all that it signifies.

      Blessings.

      Shakti

  28. Please accept this nomination as a token for the sweet moments you have created for me on WordPress….. justmikemon.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/hii-share-my-fourth-best-moment-award-with-me/…Congratulations 🙂

  29. Hello Shakti,
    I enjoyed your post and the mask discussion. Perhaps having paddled my own canoe for most of my professional life I haven’t required a mask in quite the same way, though from an early time at school I remember the ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans’ as a way of avoiding bullying.
    But I thought you might like the lyrics and animation of ‘The Complex’ by The Blue Man Group.

    It addresses the themes which you tackle, and if you’ve not come across it before, you may be intrigued by their genre of performance – interestingly in a post performance interview the BM founders cited Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) and his phrase of “Following Your Bliss” , as a significant influence on their work – I’m doing what I’m doing in big part because of attempting to “Follow My own Bliss”
    Best wishes
    Julian

    • Hi Julian,

      That was wonderful. Thanks for sharing. If each one of us should choose to “follow our bliss”. how do you think the world would show up as?

      Cheers

      Shakti

    • Hi Shalilah,

      That is a powerful comment. Yes, in many ways, as we wear our mask,we like to “remain inside the box” and allow our lives to be dominated by our insecurities and start projecting our failures on to others to try and protect ourselves from our own reality.

      Sometime back, I had looked at this aspect in my post titled, ” What if…….”

      Thank you for your presence here.

      Shakti

  30. All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,……….As You Like It my friend!

    • How right you are Hormaz dear.

      I wonder however that as we play these many parts, do we need to shift the masks we wear. Or do we end up in adding more stuff to the mask which we are already wearing?

      Thank you for commenting here, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  31. A very thought-provoking post. Pursuing my passion has helped me remove the mask with readers. The mask still serves a purpose when dealing with others in the business arena, but I do take it off now more than I ever did before. 🙂

    • Hi Kourtney,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, the mask does serve our purpose and that is why we wear it. It is only when we get conditioned to be in the mask and utilise the mask’s style and responses for other aspects in our life, that we see it no longer serving and in fact detracting from who we truly are.

      The ability to hold the consciousness that we indeed have a mask allows us to take parts of it off. As we do this, we show up as more genuine and empowered individuals. But can we take our whole mask off? I am not so certain……

      I appreciate your presence here.

      Shakti

  32. My dark humor is my mask, my protective shield. It has helped me get thru some situations that might have brought me down if I hadn’t thought of the humorous side of things.

    I agree with you, Shakti. A mask is a double-edge sword. It also keeps people from getting too close.

    • Hi Judy,

      I remain intrigued to know what your ‘dark humour’ mask looks like. Does the humour hide uncertainties and insecurities? And if that be so, where do you see your compulsions to do so…….

      As you go down this road of enquiry, you would reach the place where you might find the mask is no longer required.

      Yes, our mask is double-edged as it retains the capacity to serve in certain situations.But it also hides the genuine ‘you’ and thus prevents others from knowing the beautiful and vulnerable being that resides inside you.

      Cheers

      Shakti

      • Shakti …

        Yes. Humor hides my uncertainties and insecurities. It helps me get thru a negative situation until I can see past the shadows to the bright sunshine ahead. I do appreciate your insight.

        Unfortunately I feel that most people are so preoccupied with their own worries that they do not look beyond the surface. When someone does, then you know you have a true friend who really cares.

        Judy

  33. Greetings Shakti..Stretching my mind again….I think a great deal of the time it is hard to even tell what is the mask and what is real, it has become so much a part of who we are. I wonder how one really knows for sure? How does one know what to begin to shed? And for what? It seems understanding our masks is the first job we must undergo in order to find its edges and to know where to begin to peel it back. This becomes quite the undertaking for sure. How do we even know when the mask is finally gone? How do we know when we are finally real? Thanks again my friend…Blessings and happy day…. VK

    • Greetings VK,

      As always you bring so much of thought and power into your comment.

      You are absolutely right. I for one can scarcely differentiate between the ‘mask me’ and the ‘true me’.But as I have said, the mask serves our purpose and so long we wear and use its powers in an appropriate situation, I guess it is okay. It is only when we are no longer conscious of our mask and allow it to manifest in other areas in which it is not relevant that the problem begins.

      To get back to your question about “How does one know what to begin to shed? And for what?”, I would say that the trigger is when you find outcomes manifesting in your life which you did not want.This remains the ideal place to search for parts of our mask needing removal.

      Do we really need to remove our mask fully? Why should we do that when it still serves a purpose?

      You ask, ” How do we know when we are finally real?” Would such knowing serve us? I for one remain doubtful if we can ever know. What I have however found is that the path of mask removal itself is a pleasurable one and the litmus test that we are doing it right is the fact that we “start attracting other folks of our wavelength.” Is that in itself not a great blessing?

      Thank you VK once again for your presence here, I truly appreciate.

      Shakti

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