There will be time, there will be time; To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.
– Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
We all wear a mask that we use to project an image of who we are to the outside world. Most of us will have several masks based on the expectations of ourselves and the expectations of others. Some times the mask is based purely on the role you have to play either at home or at work.
Your work colleagues will probably have a different view of you than your close friends, and your close friends will probably have a slightly different view of you than your family. Some of the masks we wear are deliberate and some are based on conditioning or imprinting as Robert Anton Wilson would say.
The thing with masks is that we wear them so often that we sometimes forget where the mask ends and we begin. We become the mask and the mask becomes us. To find your authentic self, to reclaim who you are, you have to strip away the mask and reconnect with your core self.
Here’s a 3 step exercise to help you reconnect with your core self:
Note: make some space for yourself where it’s quiet and you won’t be interrupted.
Who Am I?
Ask yourself the age old question, who am I? Write down all the key words and phrases that immediately spring into your mind. Let your response flow unfiltered.
Who Do I Fear I Am?
Next, ask yourself, who do I fear I am? This is about the qualities you don’t like about yourself or wouldn’t want other people to think this about you. Sometimes the key to answering this question is to notice what qualities you strongly dislike in other people. We react negatively to people who display a characteristic we dislike in ourselves. More on this read, Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance and Dreams
Who Do I Pretend to Be?
Who we pretend to be will be a mixture of what we think other people’s expectations of us are and our projections to cover up who we fear we are. The goal of the exercise is to identify the barriers we’ve erected that stand in the way of us fully embracing our core self. And then work to reduce those barriers so we can live a full and more enriching life that supports the core of who we are.