“Almost any emotion/behavior can be used as a mask. Maybe you mask insecurity by disliking others or mask sadness by being the life of the party or mask fear by being perfectionistic. Putting on a mask is a way of disappearing–being invisible.
Masks provide some emotional protection in the short run. But the costs of wearing masks are high. When you wear a mask, you don’t really feel the warmth of belonging because others don’t really know you. One of the most basic needs people have is to feel connected to other people and that can’t happen when you are hidden.” Psych Central
As many of you who follow my blog may know, I was a people pleaser for most of my life, until these past few years. I wore a very socially acceptable mask for most of my life. I didn’t think that what I thought would be acceptable to be expressed, so I wore a different face to avoid conflict, to fit in and belong. I wrote more about this in the blog post Why People Pleasing Hurts and How To Drop the Good Girl Act.
It has been a long journey (and continues to be), to express who I am without needing to apologise for who I am. It has been a long journey to express who I am and not feel the need to validate who I am, and I know from feedback so many people feel the same way.
In this current highly volatile and chaotic time of change we are in, there are many voices shouting loudly and there are many voices that feel unable to express what they think, feel or understand. Even I have resisted chiming in on current affairs right now, because in all honesty after several years of being brandished so many names for voting to leave the European Union in the UK, to changing who I vote for, I had to ask myself do I really want to invite in further name calling or attacks?
I decided after seeing many people being de-platformed in the UK and USA for sharing common views and beliefs on many different issues, from the pandemic, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the Transgender movement and many being fired from jobs for sharing politically or culturally different views to the common narrative being played worldwide, to share anyway.
This past week when I saw a former Chief of Police be brave enough to share the truth of what was really happening in regards to police being attacked on the news about riots etc. in London and seeing him be shut down on air for not sticking to the Black Lives Matter narrative of it being a wholly peaceful movement, I realised that if we don’t speak up and share alternative viewpoints, before long there will be only one viewpoint spoken, free speech will be gone and a very dark path we will be venturing down.
Recently I posted on my social media a post on political correctness. I felt inspired to share my thoughts, alternative thoughts to what is commonly shared on news media as comfortable, popular truths. I was sharing what were deemed unpopular thoughts, even though a silent majority have the same thoughts, but are too afraid to share them.
I received the usual name calling. I received the usual passive aggressive criticism and misjudgements.
Needless to say, I chose not to respond to some, because I know when people are being authentic and I know when people are digging the knife in under a smiley, loving, seemingly kind face. The masks are very transparent when it comes to passive aggressiveness.
I Used to Be Passive Aggressive
I know this primarily because I used to be passive aggressive in that way too.
When I was heavily on my spiritual journey, learning, taking new beliefs from those I surrounded myself with, I believed I knew what was right and what was wrong and if there was a discussion and someone questioned my very fixed beliefs back then, I would critique them but I would do so in a sickly sweet, holier than thou way. In my mind it meant I could deny I was attacking someone, because the words said otherwise. So, I know the energy, it’s not authentic.
The spiritual socially acceptable face can be one of the most intoxicating. In a way it’s similar to the revolutionary socially acceptable mask. Both can seem virtuous, doing so for the right reasons and the right cause, but both coming from a place of holier than thou.
Like many people I have many views on many topics. Like most people I am against prejudice that hurts and harms anyone. I also now, since my fall from a more far-left view of life, find accepting and allowing others who may have what I perceive prejudiced viewpoints, their right to express it (without harming others of course) easier.
Some Examples of Popular and Unpopular Beliefs
For example, I am pro-choice. I believe women should have the right to choose to abort their baby if they are pregnant. However, if someone is pro-life and against this, for religious reasons or otherwise, I acknowledge their right to have that view or opinion, because everyone lives different lives and have different views on right and wrong.
I am pro-love. People can love whoever they want, be it same gender, different gender, older man, younger woman, trans gender, different colours…where there is love there is life. I believe in love.
However, if someone does not believe two men or two women should be together, I accept their right to believe this and have this opinion. So long as they don’t use it to harm others, to me they are entitled to this view, because it goes both ways.
I believe anyone can identify as whatever they want to, but I also believe that biologically there is man and there is woman. If we start to identify as hundreds of different identities this never ends and gets very complicated.
So, label yourself whatever you want, but if you take away my basic human rights or my safety, I will have something to say.
Recently I said how I believe women’s spaces should be sacred to women. I was instantly labelled trans-phobic, along with a number of other names.
What I feel is that because women fought so long for women’s rights, our rights should not be less than Trans rights. And this is the route many are wanting to go down right now, to actually reduce our rights. Even politicians are trying to change basic women’s rights.
I believe, if for example a young woman is menstruating, she has the right to a sacred safe women’s public bathroom, where no men can enter. I believe if a man identifies as a woman, but still has the strength and genitalia of a man, this no longer becomes a safe space for a woman. This is not transphobic. If anyone wants to identify as anything other than woman or man, they can, but also as women fought for women’s rights, they too can campaign for safe spaces. We as women fought for so much for so long and shouldn’t have to even have this questioned, but it is.
I am saying this, to simply show that so many ideas can have multiple meanings and that sometimes we just need to look at fundamental truths and make decisions from there.
Questioning Is Becoming Outlawed
The problem at the moment is that questioning is becoming outlawed.
If you question you are automatically labelled. It is like there is a rule book. For example in the UK if you mention you want tighter borders in the country you are instantly called a racist, no discussion, no ifs no buts, just a racist.
If you question Black Lives Matter and how it is founded on Marxism and backed by Democrats for example in the USA, instead of having a dialogue about this, you are again labelled automatically racist.
If you question the real reason more crime is carried out by black men in both the UK and USA, the root causes, you are labelled racist.
If you question the rights of women against trans-women, you are automatically labelled transphobic.
As I said on my politically correct post, I used a quote that stands today.
“Those who make conversations impossible, make escalation inevitable” ~Stefan Molyneux
And this is the reason I am giving some examples here, because all of the above points I have made are classed as socially unacceptable discussions for debate. So, if you share anything like this you will be deemed socially unacceptable by some.
Why Drop the Socially Acceptable Mask?
At this volatile time, you may be even more unlikely to drop your mask.
You may be a secret Trump Voter, you may be against Black Lives Matter, Pro-Life. You may have thoughts on gender, but all these things make you scared to speak.
There are places where it is impossible to drop the socially acceptable mask. These may be your church; they may be among your friends even or your family.
I have noticed many people I thought I related to, I no longer relate to. I have lost a lot of friends online for sharing my alternative views. When you start to drop the mask, you have to be prepared to let go of those who no longer match who you are.
Yet by dropping the mask, you become authentic, you become real, strong and it’s like a rebirth of sorts.
What happens is the energy you put out is met by people who are more on your true wavelength.
Different Social Masks
We can wear so many social masks.
Aside from politics, cultural differences right now, you may wear a happy mask when you are deeply unhappy, but this stops genuine intimacy from happening. This mask could be putting a wall up to prevent people who want to love and get to know the real you, the one who lies beneath the mask. Sharing real feelings isn’t a weakness. Imagine if you were wearing a happy mask and you meet someone else wearing a happy mask, it would be hard to get to know one another for real, but if one of you dropped it, it would give permission for others to be authentic too.
‘Life Is Great’ Mask
Your life may be falling apart, your finances may be draining down the gutter, your relationships may be a mess, but you may put on the appearance of everything working. What happens when you do this is you miss out on the opportunities to get help, for people to come and support you and perhaps help you out of the challenges you face.
There are many masks we wear, and we wear them in different social situations also.
Robert Greene the author of ‘The Laws of Human Nature’ talks about the masks that we wear, often to cover our shadows. The shadow being the parts of our self we may not like, which we wish to hide. He says to recognise our shadow or other people’s shadows we can observe the following:
- Contradictory behavior: actions that belie the carefully constructed front people present
- Emotional outbursts:suddenly losing one’s habitual self-control and saying something biting and hurtful
- Over-idealization:charged with emotional conviction and glossing over the faults of our cause, seeing things only in black and white (see moral righteousness and activism)
- Projection:we can’t admit to ourselves certain desires (eg. for money, sex or fame) so we project those desires onto others (“he’s so self-important”)
- The Tough Guy:rough masculinity concealing emotional vulnerability and tenderness
- Passive Aggressive Charmer:amazingly nice and accommodating, with a tendency to smile a lot to get what they want, and likely to stab you in the back later on
- Snob:a tremendous need to be different and assert superiority
When we start to drop our socially acceptable masks, that cover our shadow, our fears and even our light, it’s important to question not only others, but ourselves, for example, if we express, tap into ourselves and see if what we say really matches who we are. Sometimes we con ourselves into thinking we are right, when beneath the words we share is the desire to come across in a certain way.
And what very freeing thing is getting to know your mask, your shadow and realising you quite enjoy that part of you, perhaps you’re a bit bossy and you tried to hide it, but at some point you let it out, you accept it and you quite enjoy it.
I have begun to highly enjoy sarcasm. I would never have been this way in the past, I always hid my views under as I said earlier, passive aggressiveness, now I just let it all out of the box. If someone is coming on the attack, sometimes I just enjoy a bit of sarcasm and instead of judging myself as bad for being sarcastic I revel in it and embrace this shadow self.
When I started to finally feel I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone or to validate my right to express myself, I found myself no longer apologising or needing to defend what I had said or written.
In the past, if I had said or written some opinions or thoughts and they were questioned, misjudged and criticised in a more ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ way, I would have defended the words, gone into great detail as to why I was right. I felt I had to validate my thoughts. This was when I had zero self-esteem.
Now, I share my thoughts, people can either love them, hate them or be totally indifferent to them, that is their choice.
For me it was coming to terms with the fact that if we stifle ourselves and try to be socially acceptable all of the time, we can never ever succeed in this.
Because someone somewhere will be offended by what we say even if we try to please them or give them what we think they want to hear or read, because we can never know what conditioning or beliefs others have deep down, or what triggers them.
So it’s far better just to get to know who you are, find out what your shadows are, see what masks you are wearing to be socially accepted and one by one let them fall away and let the true you out.
And then allow people to criticise, allow them whatever they need to do, but feel no need to explain away your opinions or your thoughts. Of course you can debate and have healthy discussions with others, but read the room, see if the person wanting a debate genuinely wants to hear what you have to say or if they simply want to prove you wrong. You will know when you see this.
Good luck in dropping your masks. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, but then growing and living is not meant to be comfortable, fixed or full of certainty. It’s about riding the wave of the unknown and truly living.
If you drop your mask right now and share your unpopular thoughts, I commend you. Well done! It is not easy to speak beyond the crowd or hive mind right now and it takes real courage and bravery to do so.