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Why We Wear Masks (Not the ones that stop the virus)

Feb 24, 2021
Today I want to talk about wearing masks.

Not the kind of masks that are protecting us from the virus, but masks that cover our insecurities and help us to deal with life. A lot of people wear masks, because of the hurts we’ve all experienced. Maybe it’s words about our appearance, or about our abilities or even worse, hurtful words about our potential or value. 

Some folks have experienced the loss of trust. You get hurt in a relationship or a friendship where the other person has not kept their word or an outright lie to you. We then no longer feel that we can trust other people, or our trust is just broken. 

Sometimes you experience betrayal. There are many ways that we can feel betrayed by our friends, by family, by classmates, coworkers. They trust even less, and we start to hold more of our real self back. I think at some of these levels, we start to not even really know who our true self is. 

Many people have experienced gossip, where people talk about you behind your back. They tell stories, they make assumptions about who you really are, make assumptions about your motivations. Of course, because it’s gossip, it’s not usually based in truth. 

Abandonment can be a huge cause of insecurity. Some people have experienced abandonment in a relationships. Somebody closest simply stopped showing up; stopped participating in the relationship. Or even worse, if it’s family abandonment, emotional abandonment can occur, especially that which occurs in childhood can be very powerful, and can have a large impact. 

We create these masks to prevent this kind of hurt from happening again. Bullying is a type of mask to cover up insecurities. We use masks to cover these insecurities to protect ourselves, to avoid being defensive. To avoid having to feel that kind of pain again. Masks cover the insecurity. 

Many times we use a mask to keep the hurt private. I think one of the biggest challenges is that when we’re hurt by others, we keep that pain to ourselves. We don’t want to talk about it. The challenge is if those words aren’t true, we have no input to challenge the lie. We have no verification; of course, verification be twofold. If the words aren’t true, then we can’t allow them to hurt us. If there is some truth in the words, we need to use that to grow from but without being able to talk to somebody else about it, it can be very challenging. 

We use masks to hide our true feelings. Everyone does this in daily conversation when someone asks, Hey, how are you? Typical answer is, fine. We know the truth, that the person isn’t really asking. We’re not really having a conversation about how you are. We don’t have the opportunity to have that conversation about how you are and reveal the truth about how we’re feeling; the truth about what’s going on in our lives and fine is an easier answer. Then we can just move on, we don’t have to have opportunities to share how we truly feel. The truth is, we need relationships where we can remove the mask and speak the truth about how we feel. 

Another mask is defensive; we become defensive. We put on that defensive mask to cover those insecurities. It can be that armor that stops people from seeing the truth about us, or what we believe might be the truth about us. This can come across as sarcasm or just that short answer to stop the conversation before it starts. 

Some of these things can lead to self pity. Self pity can be the mask that makes you feel alone. Oh, no one else feels this way. No one else has these kinds of problems. You know you’re all alone in this. And of course, those things aren’t true. But when you’re wearing the mask, that’s the voice in your head. All of those things can lead to a low self image. We feel that we don’t bring a lot of value to the world. We need to challenge those lies in our head.

We need to be willing to remove the mask. There are some things that you can do to overcome insecurity. The first is to have a trust relationship. To build a trust relationship, find somebody that you’re able to talk to, to really be able to tell that person, how are you doing? It’s important to be able to talk about the hurts, and how they impact us. Somebody said these words to me and it hurt me. Bringing those words to the surface, exposes them to the light. If there’s no truth in them, the light will eliminate them. But if, if there is some truth in them, then the light gives you an opportunity to make changes; the opportunity to improve and grow. 

Another big thing to overcome insecurity is to learn to accept who you are, believing in yourself. Believing in yourself gives you a lot of power, and it disempowers those that want to use words against you. We have talked about the power of words, and how we grew up saying sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Even though we were all taught to say that, we shared that on the playground; the truth is when somebody says hurtful words, that they really do hurt. 

We know that there’s a grain of truth in the sarcasm, we know that there’s a grain of truth in the bully’s statement. Our brain takes that grain of truth and uses it against us and causes us deep hurts that we hide inside. We wear masks to cover those hurts up and try to put on a brave face to the world. But that’s really not necessary. What’s really necessary is being able to expose those words and expose those lies. 

Accept yourself for who you are. Believe in yourself and then you can decide whether or not those words are true in your life or not. A really powerful way to do that is to expose those words in a relationship with somebody else; being able to share it with somebody else, and expose it to the light. Then of course, once you do, you believe in yourself more. You can be comfortable being authentic, and you can have the opportunity to put your true self out there. 

Find like minded people that believe in you, that appreciate you for who you really are, and, don’t love you for your mask. The challenge is we start to wear these masks covering our insecurities; then we believe that people will only like us if we’re wearing the mask. The truth is you have to find the people that like you when you’ve taken the mask off. This gives you the opportunity to openly expose fears and lies. If you share the hurtful words, with others, you can find out if there’s truth in them because there’s power in truth. 

Chances are the truth is going to eliminate 80-90% of the words that people use against you and have made you feel bad. And maybe there’s 10% of words that have some truth in them. Those can be an opportunity to grow; an opportunity to change; an opportunity to improve your character so that you’re better at relationships and you’re better at how you treat other people. 

The truth is, all of us are looking forward to taking off masks and not having to wear masks. Even more important than removing the masks that we’re wearing in the grocery store, is being able to remove the masks that we’re wearing in our relationships, and the masks that we’re wearing and putting on in front of others. To be able to take those masks off and be our true selves will empower our lives and growth. 

There’s a lot of freedom that can be found in being able to take the masks off. If you have a comment or question or concern about being able to take your mask off. Let’s have a conversation.