Do you remember how much fun Halloween was when you were a kid? You got to dress up and put on a mask and disguised who you really are, and portrayed the person you wanted to be for a day? Maybe it seems like it’s been a long time since you had the opportunity to do that. Well I’m here to tell you, you’re still doing it…every day.
For the most part, we tend to think we go out into the world and show our true colors. However, most of us haven’t been really authentic in so long, that if we did show up as the person we really are, we wouldn’t recognize that person in the mirror ourselves. Why is that? Because we are all scared. Now I don’t just mean experiencing a touch of fear. I’m talking about being totally frightened to death. Maybe it has to do with finances, relationships, addictions, health, world events. Living in fear defines the majority of humans on earth at this time. However, we don’t show up to our friends and loved ones screaming, “help me please, I’m so frightened”. No way! How would that look? No instead screaming or curling up in a ball, we head out and portray this person who has it all together. Most of us put on a mask of courage or confidence and pray no one finds out. Some choose to put on a different mask, a mask of victim. With this mask on, they don’t have to ask for help or show their true fear, instead, they try to trick others into feeling sorry for them in order to get the support they are desperately seeking. However, this way of being is so inauthentic, that it has the opposite effect, and the people around them steer clear like 2 opposing magnets. For all of us, the problem is, it’s not just that we forget to take the mask off, it’s that we forgot we put it on in the first place!
How could you forget that you are scared to death? We as humans subconsciously push down the feelings of fear so far out of our consciousness that we try to convince ourselves that the inauthentic life we are portraying to others is actually real. That we don’t feel afraid at all. Now pushing down your feelings is not a “wrong” way to live. Believe me, people have lived this way until their dying day. However, living this way is a form of hell on earth as it can only create more fear and leave you in a place of not being able to fulfill your one true purpose here on earth, and that is to be fully and fearlessly the real you. To live everyday simply being who you are from your core, no matter what anyone else thinks of you. So, instead, we all end up walking around unfulfilled with masks on, pretending.
Now there is a way out of living October 31st every day like it’s Groundhog Day. There is one thing you can do every day that will change all of this. Just one different way of being that will set you free from inauthenticity in your life, and allow you to live your life totally and completely fulfilled and empowered at all times! What is this magical way of being that forces you to take off your mask and expose the real you??? It’s vulnerability.
For most people, the idea of being venerable is looked down on as a form of weakness. The reality is that this couldn’t be farther from the truth! As Dr. Brene Brown speaks about in her book, Daring Greatly, it requires great courage to be vulnerable. And all you need to do to take that leap of courage is to finally realize that you are wasting this human experience and causing yourself and those around you great suffering by not being who you really are. Once you fully understand the impact this has on your life and the life of those around you, it will not be a struggle to take this leap, it will be a great relief to take the mask off and strip down. From this place you are exposed, warts and all, being you, just as you are, and just as you are not. No more pretending, no more disguise. Just the real you from the inside that was always there but that you never let anyone see. From this show of great courage, fear loses its grip on you, and you experience great freedom and peace, maybe for the first time ever.
Only in taking off the mask and giving the real you to the world can you experience authentic confidence, strength, relatedness and intimacy. Only through exposing your strengths and your challenges, without fear of how it lands for other people, can you live in a community where others feel safe to also be totally themselves with you, and as authentic human beings, we innately support each other, so no one falls.
So how does this look? Do you walk out into your front yard and yell, “I have a drinking problem”! Or “My savings is dwindling”! Maybe it’s, “I’m worried my mother is going to need care” or maybe “I’m afraid my wife will leave me! You can try that but I don’t think it will make a life changing difference. However, what you can do is to have authentic conversations with everyone from this moment on. To talk to your closes friends and relatives, as well as the person you meet at Starbucks, saying only what comes from who you really are, with compassion for yourself and everyone around you. This goes for every interaction, even with your closest family members. We tend to think we are protecting our loved one’s feelings when we withhold information and pretend to be someone we are not, but all that does is deny them the chance to support you and for them to feel comfortable to let you support them. WHICH IS WHY WE DON’T LIVE ALONE ON SEPARATE PLANETS. WE NEED EACH OTHER!!!
So how does this look in real life? Here’s an example. I have a friend in Gilbert Arizona that is dealing with some issues around being able to trust others. (A fear they will be betrayed.) They have found that this stems from issues from their childhood. They are beginning to realize how events from a young age has shaped their life and has kept them living in fear. This person recently spent time with their mother and instead of sharing this experience, and opening up about what they felt as a child, and how it relates to their life now, and deepening their relationship by doing so, instead they chose to keep the mask on in the name of “not burdening their mother”. This leaves both people bumping around with masks on, spewing inauthentic thoughts and feelings. They might as well just say to each other, “bla bla bla” instead of real words because they either way they just end up going home and with an ulcer. What could have transpired if that person had just said, Mom, I’m really going through something right now. I’m realizing this and that from my past and how I have let that negatively affect me as an adult. And, I am in the process of seeing that for the first time and letting it go and changing my view on life as an adult, instead of being ruled by a 5-year-old. What might she have said???? What might she have done??? Maybe she would have provided the peace that person needed. Shed new light on those past events. Held and rocked this person in her arms and told them she was there for them. But instead she was denied the opportunity for authentic human relatedness with her loved one, and both of them still have an ulcer.
When you take off your mask and stop living a life pretending, you not only gain your power back, you gain your life back. You feel courageous like you have never felt before and fear affects you less. Your support systems grows (or maybe for the first time you let people start to support you) and what caused your fear in the first place can be eliminated. Just get in front of people and introduce them to you. Now remember, not only have they never met the real you before, they have their own masks on and they may keep it on and you may not get the reaction you desire. But either way, this is a blessing. A relief. Your real support system will take off their mask too, and love you in ways you never thought possible. The ones that keep their mask on aren’t ready…and that’s ok. Be the example for them. Show them what real courage looks like through venerability and delight in the peace and freedom you have given yourself by being totally, fearlessly, unconditionally you!
By Jean Pomeroy, CMI, President/Founder Workforce & Lifeforce Meditations