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The Masks We Wear

The Masks We Wear

We’re growing accustomed to donning physical face masks for good reason, but the metaphorical ones we carry may end up restricting our truest – and best – selves.

“Tear off your mask. Your face is glorious.” – Rumi


We are currently living in an unprecedented time, experiencing a global health crisis which asks us to wear masks to protect our health and the health of those around us.

Ironically, it is something most of us are already familiar with, whether we realize it or not. Literally wearing a mask has a direct metaphorical cousin—we also wear masks to protect the vulnerable parts of ourselves. These masks are personality archetypes we take on to distract from the truest and, often, most insecure parts of ourselves. Our emotional masks hide our insecurities about our perceived value in the world and a fear of not being good enough.   

I remember when I created my first mask. I was an awkward nine-year-old girl and often felt like I didn’t fit in. One day, something unexpected happened: I made my friends laugh. I remember thinking that I had finally figured out a way to fit in. I was going to be “the funny one.” 

The mask archetypes we wear directly pair with the vulnerability we are trying to hide. Some examples include:

The Comic

Humor is a brilliant way to deflect the spotlight away from yourself. We use this mask to avoid conflict or allowing anyone to get too close, while covering up underlying pain or sadness.  

The Controller

We have all met people who feel they must control every single element of a situation, including all of the people within it. This exertion of control is a masking technique used to cover feelings of powerlessness in their world. 

The People-Pleaser

An easy way to avoid conflict is to simply agree with those around you to gain their approval. This mask hides a sincere ability to self-validate.

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At some point, masks begin to pile up and become burdensome. We miss out on the gift of being uncomfortable, vulnerable and uniquely ourselves until we take the masks off. With our masks off, we create real connections with others and allow ourselves to experience the full spectrum of our lives. By removing our masks, we truly show up as ourselves in our own lives and invite a myriad of possibilities for our lives to grow.

We must face our insecurities and find a way to heal them. Our insecurities develop because they are the places we can grow within us. They are the garden of our potential. Life would be meaningless if there were no growth. We acquire these little seeds of insecurities and, with them, are gifted an opportunity to turn them into superpowers and strengths. Yet, if we consistently try to hide who we are underneath a mask, we suppress our ability to truly become the best versions of ourselves. 


Ready to remove your mask and begin seeing your potential strengths? Try this exercise: Examine your life and choices during the past month. Can you see whether you wore masks in any of those situations? If so, write out a three-column list. In the first column, write the personality you brought to the experience (the mask you wore). In the second column, write the insecurity you were hiding. In the third column, write the reverse of the insecurity and label it as a superpower-in-training. 

EXAMPLE:

MaskFearStrength in Training
The comicMy real self is boringMy real self has real stories that can authentically connect me with others. I am ready for an authentic connection with others. 

What gift is waiting for you? Likely, the version of you that you are meant to become. Once you begin to show the world who you really are, you light a torch for others to do the same – to walk mask-free down their own path in the delight of their authenticity. 

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