“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter …
Why do we sometimes choose to wear masks? After all, being someone other than who we really are can be quite difficult, misleading, and at times even confusing. The most likely culprit is fear–fear of getting hurt or laughed at, fear of being excluded or not fitting in, fear of being exposed or analyzed, fear of being known or social anxiety, or any other layer of fear that we wish to cover up and hide. Unfortunately, by doing so, we confuse others and ourselves, and even worse, diminish our potential in life. <!–more–>
The question of who you are to yourself as compared to who you are to others is an important one to consider, for this is the measure of your authenticity. If you see yourself one way, but act in another, no longer is there a line that defines your morals and beliefs, thereby your integrity falters and your character starts to diminish. In addition, acting contrary to your inner-self grinds away the peace in your heart creating anger, stress, unhappiness, strife, and many other unhealthy feelings and emotions.
It is important to note, however, that authenticity is not equivalent to transparency–being genuine does not require me to expose all of my raw thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires, and so forth to the whole of the world, at every given opportunity. It simply means that you wear the same face, and communicate from the heart, regardless of the situation or people with whom you are speaking.
The most valuable gift we have to offer to this world is ourselves. So ask yourself, “Who am I? Are you the person who helps someone in need, the person who listens to a child who is hurt, the person who laughs with friends and family, the person who talks tenderly to their spouse and children… or the person who is frustrated in traffic, the person who yells at their spouse and children?” If we are going to be true, we must be true to ourselves first, and then to others in our lives. And in order for us to do this there must be congruence between the face we put on for ourselves and the face we put on for others.
Reflect on the masks you are wearing while communicating with others.
Questions to consider:
What are some of the different faces that you show to the world? How closely do they align with how you see yourself?
How do we get into the habit of showing different kinds of faces? Why do we often tend to maintain this habit?
How can we develop the habit of presenting congruency in who we are at different times?
For further thought:
“To think, for instance, that I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several. There are people who wear the same face for years; naturally it wears out, it gets dirty, it splits at the folds, it stretches like gloves one has worn on a journey. These are thrifty, simple people; they do not change their face; they never even have it cleaned. It is good enough, they say, and who can prove to them the contrary? The question, of course, arises, since they have several faces, what do they do with the others? They store them up. Their children will wear them. But sometimes, too, it happens that their dogs go out with them on. And why not? A face is a face.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge