by Tricia Easter
We are a culture that adores superheroes and fantasy characters. Many of them like Batman, Spiderman, Darth Vader and Zorro wear a mask to conceal their true identity, to instill fear, and or to conceal their feelings. Regular people wear emotional masks for the same reasons.
Regardless of the reasons for wearing masks, it’s time for us all to remove our emotional masks and reveal our true identities. If we all remove our masks, we will be able to live and express ourselves authentically so that our true colors shine. The physical masks we wear are a pointed reminder to unmask our true selves.
Recently, when I came home from the grocery store, my kids asked if there were a lot of people wearing masks. My 15-year-old inquisitive son immediately chimed in and said, “Doesn’t everyone already wear a mask?” His question got my attention. I love it when my kids are insightful, so I asked what they thought that question meant. My 12-year-old daughter, who is an old soul at heart, casually replied, “It means most people hide who they really are inside.”
Locally and globally we have become vigilant about wearing masks, both metaphorically, and more recently, physically. As we move through this global shift, we have a visual reminder of the fact that most of us have been wearing masks for years. For global healing to occur, we need to each feel safe to remove our emotional masks and reveal our true selves, just as we need to feel safe to remove our physical masks.
When it comes to physical masks to prevent COVID-19, many people wear one out of fear of catching the virus. Some people wear one just because they’re told to, and don’t really think about it. Others flat-out refuse to wear a mask. There are those who wear a mask to make other people feel more comfortable, while sacrificing their own comfort. Some wear them out of fear of what other people might think, say, or do, and not because they are afraid of the virus. For those of us who are blessed with a safe and comfortable home life, our shields are down at home. We don’t wear a mask at home, nor do we need one. Yet the mask comes on once we leave the safety of our homes. In public, the shields come up.
People wear metaphorical masks for the same reasons. Most of us hide our real selves from the rest of the world. Many people are afraid to reveal who they really are or because they’ve been conditioned that their true selves are not appropriate to share in public. The majority of us don’t feel safe revealing our true selves. If you’ve ever been mocked, made fun of or even attacked for being yourself, wearing a mask is an understandable choice. To let down the emotional mask, we need to feel safe and to trust that other people won’t harm us if we are vulnerable.
Personally, I have worn a metaphorical mask for most of my adult life, and still do with certain groups and people. It’s self-preservation. Or is it? To heal a debilitating anxiety disorder, I had to explore the various masks I wore. Growing up, I was regularly made fun of at home for being myself. For my hairstyle choices, clothes, friends, music – anything. My reaction to that was to hide my true self and I continued to do that into my adult life, still fearful and not ready to be vulnerable.
To heal my anxiety, I had to examine the mask I was wearing. I learned that I was dimming my light out of fear. I was afraid of being ridiculed, and of not being accepted. I hid my true colors so that others felt better about themselves. I sacrificed myself for their comfort, and feared that living authentically and unapologetically would leave me vulnerable. I thought my mask was protecting me, but in actuality, it simply increased my anxiety. Hidden under a mask, my soul couldn’t breathe. Wearing masks cut off my soul’s energetic frequency, thereby creating anxiety. The mask wasn’t protecting me at all.
I began to clearly see other ways these masks were hurting me. By pretending that my needs, wants, and self-expression didn’t matter, I was minimizing myself. I was choosing to place the wellbeing of others above my own, in order to make them more comfortable while hurting myself at the same time. Unfortunately, there are people who want us to make ourselves smaller so that they feel better about themselves. To live authentically and with passion threatens so many people, because so few people manage it.
Now, at a time when we all must wear a physical mask to protect others, maybe it is time to drop the emotional masks. Perhaps now is the time to honor our souls and reveal our true selves, even while our faces are covered. Imagine what our world would be like if we all shed our masks and revealed our vulnerable selves? I believe it’s time to drop our shields and unapologetically be ourselves. I’m hoping that this time of stillness and introspection has given us the strength and conviction to take off our masks and shine our beautiful lights.
If we are brave enough to be ourselves and share our truths, then we will help others find the power to do the same. Peeling off all the different metaphorical masks we wear feels like a weight coming off. The burden of hiding ourselves because of fear will always hurt us. For me, taking off my emotional mask and valuing myself enough to live courageously and authentically has cured my anxiety.
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Tricia Easter is a holistic healing coach who specializes in helping her clients achieve freedom from anxiety. She is passionate about breaking down the mental health stigma and being a voice for those with anxiety issues. Tricia is certified in Nutrition and is a Certified Angel Guide and Certified Angel Card Reader.