How often do you hide your real self behind a mask, whether it be pretending that you’re always happy, showing confidence or strength no matter what, or always being perfect? Or perhaps it’s just not having a viewpoint on anything (so that you can’t be held to account)? How important is it for you to be liked and approved of by everyone around you? How often are you able to be completely yourself?
It has taken years of conditioning and practice to present an acceptable version of yourself to the world and much of this takes place in childhood and adolescence as you attempt to fit in with others so that you can feel like you belong. Conditioning can take some work to shed. However all the work that you do on yourself will pay you back a thousand times over. Masks are not real and they are not who you are. It takes tremendous energy to keep up the pretence of being how you think you should be or need to be rather than just being you.
When books and articles talk about finding your true self or your authentic self, what they speak of is the ability to know who you are, what it is that you like and dislike, what’s most important to you and what you are prepared to accept and not accept. Knowing yourself well helps you to set firm boundaries in your relationships. It also builds self-confidence because you no longer need to ask others what they think you should do in any given moment; you can work it out for yourself.
Deep within every single one of you is an extraordinary source of wisdom just begging to be noticed so that you can draw on it and bring your gifts into the world. I liken it to the growth of a tree from a seed. Given the right conditions, some sunshine, water and a little space to grow, the tree grows up strong, grounded, unique and beautiful. Whilst challenging experiences in life can block parts of the tree’s growth, the tree will always find a way to continue to grow beyond those experiences. Shedding masks and aligning with your true self is one of the things you can do to help the tree release some of the blocks and continue to grow more prolifically.
Being authentic in your communications and relationships with others has a positive knock-on effect on your precious level of self-worth and self-esteem. It’s about finding a way to say how you feel and be able to express your needs rather than pretend that your needs are not as important as others. It can also have a ripple effect on the people around you, because when they experience the real you, it gives them permission to be themselves and to drop their masks. It’s no longer worth pretending to be someone else just so that you can be liked by everyone. The truth is that not everyone will resonate with who you are, but at the very least the ones that do will love you for you and they are the ones that really matter. So, are you ready to step out from behind the mask and show the world who you really are?