Masks are tools that people often use to adapt to their circumstances. It’s a way to reinvent yourself in order to move forward. They make you act like you’re capable of anything and help protect you from what you think could harm you.
In other words, putting on a mask is an unconscious defense mechanism that kicks in when you feel you are in danger. It is the mechanism that can help you survive. So wearing a mask isn’t always a bad thing.
That said, the mask you’re wearing doesn’t live up to its customization purpose in some circumstances. Instead, it does the exact opposite.
Those kinds of masks, the ones that you can’t remove even if you wanted to, have been the subject of a lot of psychopathological research. They are known as the “ego” in Gestalt psychology or “cultural preservation” in psychodrama.
When do you need masks?
People learn to use masks from an early age. You probably learned to use them when you realized that under certain circumstances you couldn’t always do what you wanted if you wanted to be accepted.
For example, you learn that you have to control your frustration or tantrums in order to gain parental approval. Or that you have to be patient and kind with your classmates so that they accept you.
These masks define the boundaries in your relationships with other people. They represent the different roles you need to play in your life. Masks allow you to control your impulses and help you develop important skills, such as empathy.
In certain situations, you are probably wearing a mask yourself now. For example, you may need a mask for strength to get through tough times. Once it has accomplished its purpose, you can delete it.
Which masks do you wear?
Masks are a part of life. Some of these masks can save you while others can harm you. What’s interesting about these masks is that different people tend to use the same masks. Here are some of the most common:
The good child
These children learned early on that others would accept them if they behaved. It is difficult for good children to set boundaries or express their views. They are afraid that they will not be accepted. They just try to please others.
The tough battles that people have to fight to overcome adversity create this mask. It helps set aside the fear and indecision that can creep in when they have to take charge.
The apathetic masks
This mask of indifference makes you seem insensitive to everything that happens around you. It defends you from external threats because it allows it to hide your suffering.
The savior has to save everyone and loves lost cause.
People who wear this mask learned early on that life is miserable and that the only way to get love is by playing the victim.
The tough boy
This is a common mask that the most sensitive people put on because they are afraid of getting hurt or because they seem vulnerable. This fear has taught them to hide their sensitivity and only express anger or aggression.
The sun in the house
Some people find it difficult to accept emotions like sadness, anger, or loss. They put a smile on their face and pretend that everything is fine. They run away from their feelings.
The clown uses humor to hide from his emotions. This mask is similar to the previous one. One nuance of this mask is that people often think that if they stop joking, others will not accept them and act honestly.
When you can’t take off your masks
All the masks we mentioned above will help you to protect your true self from potential threats. But sometimes you spend so much time wearing them that you can’t take them off. As a result, you no longer know who you are. Is the mask part of your essence?
If you’re asking yourself that question, it means you’ve been wearing that mask for far too long. The mask that once protected you no longer works. Now it’s just a barrier that cuts you off from your emotions, desires, and values.
It’s like losing a part of who you really are. That disconnect can lead you down a slippery slope, where you try to use the same mask over and over.
It is very difficult to take off some masks. For example, if you’ve played the tough guy, you might think that the people around you will stop loving you once they discover that you’re actually vulnerable.
Ultimately, you should try to take off all your masks. Look at yourself in the mirror. See yourself as you really are. Connect with your true self so you can love yourself. Until you can be honest with yourself, it will be difficult to show your true nature to anyone else.