Behind the Mask by Lisa Greene
In our culture we each hide behind a mask. Everyone does it. It is the socially acceptable way, but it works for no one. The mask represents the role our ego has created for us; it is a conglomeration of our thoughts, opinions and judgments that we have developed as part of our conditioning, which give rise to our sense of identity. We take on and play that role so we never have to face the horrible things that we think lurk inside of us. It is also to impress our audience, who are all doing the same thing. But it keeps us from our truth as we live out a story that is about the mask rather than living as our authentic selves.
Everyone on earth experiences some level of unworthiness, and for many it is accompanied by a deep sense of shame. I believe it comes from our belief that we are separate from Source. This makes us feel less than. The ego-mind developed to compensate for this sense of unworthiness. We have been taught to escape fear and pain at any cost: to hide behind a mask, and shield ourselves from the frightening things that lie inside. But these solutions and strategies developed by the ego-mind not only don’t work, they create war, more separation, hostility and cause us to betray our true selves.
The ego-mind uses the mechanisms of judgment, blame and projection onto others to “protect” us from looking at or confronting what is within us. We hide our secrets and pretend to be superior, which makes us feel even more separate, resulting in even more fear. Left unobserved these tactics of the ego lead to prejudice and bigotry out in the world. The contents of our minds are always mirrored in the world.
Our fear becomes like chains that keep us shackled. We give them great power; not realizing it is the resistance to looking at fear that is the problem, not the fear itself. Its power comes from us; from the energy we pour into resistance. Fear’s power is only held in place by our unwillingness to meet it. When we are no longer reluctant to meet our fear, we find it runs and disappears. We have to go past our socialization, past our false sense of identity, past what we have been taught is socially acceptable and meet our fear faceto- face. As we do the mask will begin to drop and we will meet our true selves.
We must also face our wounds, unworthiness and shame. When opportunities for healing arise, the ego deploys that voice that attempts to confirm, “See, you are unworthy. Shame on you; this proves you had better hide behind a mask so they don’t see the real you.” It is a vicious cycle, until we are able to remove the mask. As we develop the capacity to be present with our unworthiness, we come to find it is merely a state of mind, a reaction.
Unworthiness would rise-up in me whenever I didn’t make other people happy, when I had thoughts of “not enough money” or when my mind would judge me. I began to realize the more I judged others, the more my mind judged me. So the strategy my mind came up with, to judge others to make me feel better about myself, completely backfired. As did all the mind’s tactics. “How is that going to work?” became one of my favorite self-inquiry questions to pose to my mind about its methods. It showed me nothing the ego-mind did, worked. It only kept me in the story of my mask; avoiding and escaping what I thought was inside of me.
There are not neat, prepackaged steps or a simplified “how to” manual when it comes to facing our fear and wounds. The key is observing our resistance to meeting them and recognizing the many modes of escape and avoidance we engage in. Resistance feeds our fear, giving it great power over us; it is resistance we have to let go of.
The ego-mind has many tactics for escaping: busyness, television, shopping, internet, overworking, drinking, smoking, chronic worrying, daydreaming and all manner of other addictions. When we recognize our habitual escape hatches we then have a choice to set them aside. As we move beyond them, we find out we do not need to be defined by our wounds; there is so much more to who we are. Sometimes we must see who we are not, in order to see who we really are.
As I caught on to the resist, escape, avoid approach of the ego-mind, I began to say to myself, “I’m going to sit here and not escape. I’m going to face this.” My ego-mind would retort with a deluge of thoughts saying: “Oh, what about this? You need to do this and that. Did you forget about such-and-such?” It would go down the line and reveal all my forms of escape. The more the patterns of escape were exposed, the more they stopped working. I now knew what they were, so I no longer fell for them. Once resistance and escape tactics are laid down, you discover what was always there: peace.
As I stopped engaging in the many escape and avoidance mechanisms I was used to, I was able to meet my wounds. I found I was not shameful, but wonderful; I accessed my true self. I could not believe I had worn a mask and hid from it for so long. I had been so identified with the mask and what I thought needed hiding, I missed the good stuff, the real stuff, my authentic self.
We need to take a good look at how we hide from others; the costumes and masks we put on because we are afraid “they might see.” We hide behind our work, our good standing, our morals, our religion and our judgments. Building this false facade in the outside world takes constant energy and what we are attempting to hide still keeps popping up, even if only at three in the morning.
Many people are afraid and will employ any means necessary to not look inside. Because once they do, the mask must come down. There is no more pretending and most people have built their whole life around the mask. They do not realize the treasure and peace they so desire is actually behind the mask.
Awareness is the key here. As you begin to question your story, it will fall apart. Your true self has always been there, but you have to take off the mask to see it. Your willingness to look will open the doors and bring the support you need. It is why we are here, to find our way home. Once we are willing to face what is inside, what we fear, everything changes. We develop an inner integrity as we awaken to our truth. Many of the things that once seemed so important fall away. We can no longer betray our true selves and live behind the mask. Break out of your false persona and become whole again.
Lisa Greene is a speaker, writer and educator with a background in psychology and biofeedback. But it was the eight months of lying on her bed watching every thought that led her to true peace. Go to www.UndoingUnhappiness.com to get her free mini course.