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Why We Wear A Mask, And Why We Shouldn’t

Guy_Fawkes_Mask_vectorised_by_timdunnIf you were to walk around in a busy city center or go to any social gathering, you would see the same spectacle as a masquerade ball.

I don’t mean literally – with a masquerade ball, you can plainly see the masks that people wear, but in everyday life we can’t see any masks. So how can the scenes of any normal day be the same as a glamorous party? Well, just because we can’t see any masks doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. The masks are invisible yet they cover the individual up, and they control the behavior of that individual it represents.

What Our Mask Does For Us

Our masks control our behavior, and determine who we are to the outside world. They do this because we let them, as despite them being our own creation, we place them over ourselves and allow them to ‘present’ us to the world. Rather than letting the world see our true selves, we feel a mask or a ‘front’ will serve us better.

Masks are created to protect us – they give the illusion that we are confident, or self-assured, or successful, or any other positive trait that we choose to have. Negative traits, such as insecurity or a dark past, won’t be shown as they are perceived as negative. If something is positive, and we think that it will elicit a positive response from others, then we choose to base our masks, our ‘false identities’ around it.

The desired result, and which usually happens, is that people will see our false identities rather than our true selves – they will see what we want them to see, rather than what we don’t want them to see.

Why We Choose To Wear It

Because of this, we choose to wear masks. With our false identities, we can be whatever we want to be, and present whatever appearance we like to someone else.

Instead of showing the world our true nature, our masks show off a different, more ‘normal’ person. If we are embarrassed by something in our past, then we can choose not to show this to everyone by pretending we’re someone else.

Our masks prevent others from seeing any part of us that we perceive to be a flaw, largely because we don’t want others to see our flaws – we want the world to see us as lovable and faultless.

This desire to ‘appear’ wonderful and amazing stems from our desire for love and respect. We all want to be loved, to be respected and appreciated for who we are as individuals. This set of psychological needs is just as important as our physical needs – without it, we would be prone to mental despair.

But instead of seeking to fulfill these psychological needs by showing the world our true selves, we believe that this will not work. We believe that people won’t like us for ‘who we really are’, and that instead they will laugh at us, or criticize us, or scorn us – exactly the responses we’re seeking to avoid. So in order to protect ourselves against this fear, we form masks.

We identify what we believe the world loves to see – we look to the media, to our parents and loved ones, and to our popular friends in an attempt to discover what it is that ‘seems’ popular. Once we learn what people seem to like, such as an outgoing personality or signs of material wealth, then we assume these apparent likes by creating a false identity out of them.

We want to appear successful and outgoing because we believe that’s what will get us that love and respect we cherish – so we form a mask based around these seemingly popular traits.

Our Trust In Our Masks Is Mislaid

Our perceptions of what constitutes popularity, which in turn leads to love and respect, are flawed. We pick up what we assume to be likable, but our assumptions are incorrect – they are based on what we’ve been told to like, rather than what we actually like.

Throughout the years, there has been the view that only certain traits bring about popularity, and that love is conditional. The notion of unconditional love has been banished and we are told that the world, and our community will only like us if meet their expectations and do what they say.

This process is known as a ‘limit chain’, where limiting beliefs are passed down over the years and generations until they are so firmly established that very few people dare to even think of an alternative.

With our masks, we choose to adopt the same traits that everyone else seems to adopt in an attempt to stay with the crowd. We do this because ‘staying with the crowd’ is believed to give us popularity and love. What’s more, we fear that if we stand away from the crowd, we will be singled out and disowned.

This belief is limiting and self-defeating – we limit our own true selves in an attempt to fulfill our psychological needs, but this can’t work out. If we want to be truly loved and appreciated, then we must be true. But if we try to gain that love and appreciation through false means, then we will never succeed. The mask we adopt, by its very nature, is false. Falsehood never achieves truth.

We Are All Beautiful Behind The Mask

In place of seeking to gain respect and appreciation through presenting an image of ourselves, I believe we ought to present our real selves.

We are all equal as individuals on this planet. We all have the same human rights, and we are all born with the same abilities. Therefore, it isn’t wise to try and diminish or ‘put down’ another human being for being different to you – we all deserve love and respect as much as the next or last person. So to present an image in order to try and ‘win’ this love and respect is both unwise and futile.

Behind the mask lies our true selves, an individual and unique personality. There is nothing ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about each of us – we are all different in a number of ways. So as we are all equals, it means one of two things:

  • We are either all hideous and unworthy of love and respect, or
  • We are all beautiful and deserving of love and respect

I hope you agree with me when I say that the latter is true. It’s an ‘either/or’ situation – it’s impossible for some of us to be worthy and the rest as unworthy. We are all on the same level, and so we are all beautiful and deserving of love, care, respect, and appreciation.

All of this can only be obtained if we venture out from behind our masks and ask the world to look at our true selves. By presenting ourselves as we really are, we open ourselves up to receive true psychological nourishment.

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