This updated and expanded post appeared originally in the February 2021 issue of Heartspoken’s “Compass Points” newsletter. If you’d like to be the first to get my content straight to your Inbox, subscribe to “Compass Points” using the form below or in the sidebar.
After the last year (2020), we’ll never think of masks the same way again, and they will forever be associated in our minds with the global pandemic. Masks may be essential to our safety in public now, but when we wear them, it’s hard to be recognized, hard to be understood, and hard to breathe.
Psychiatrists tell us that we sometimes wear invisible masks too and that if we don’t recognize this, they can cause great harm to our ability to be wholehearted, happy, and authentic. They, too, can render us unrecognizable and misunderstood. When we wear them, we might find it hard to breathe, literally or figuratively, because at some level, we realize our masked self is not our true self.
We might wear masks to hide insecurities, to camouflage fear, or to deflect attention from a deep-seated sense of unworthiness. Or we might wear masks to impress. These may be masks of authority, self-sufficiency, brash competency, or false humility.
Masks may have actually served us well in certain circumstances—given us confidence when we thought we needed it or protected us from real or perceived threats—but we sometimes wear a mask so long we can lose touch with who we really are.
One of the four essential connections of the Heartspoken life is the connection with one’s self — the clear-eyed understanding that while we’re not perfect, we are innately worthy of love and respect.
What invisible masks might you be wearing?
It’s good to recognize them, even if you’re not ready to take them off.
One of the benefits of aging, for me, has been the willingness to take off some of those masks and be my true self. I have nothing to prove to anyone else, and most of the anxiety I’ve tried to hide behind a mask turned out to never materialize or to be completely out of my control and unworthy of my concern.
Take some time to get off to yourself and think about who you are and whether you are letting the real you shine through.
What makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
Are your actions and activities in alignment with your values?
Take off the masks that no longer serve you and enjoy the feeling of traveling light.