THE LORD’S PRAYER FOR THOSE WHO HIDE BEHIND MASKS
Let me be as ugly on the outside, as I am within,
So that I may know who I really am.
That I may be beautiful to myself.
Since beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
Let me get up each day, to see the real me in the mirror,
So that instead of deciding who I want to be that day,
I may be who I really am.
Let me have but a few true friends,
Who are there for me, and not for what I pretend to be.
And all others have my allowance, to think of me howsoever they choose that to be.
Let me have the confidence to face
the world as I am,
For that is the only true confidence there is…
Thank you, Lord, for making me unique,
So that none other can be me,
Howsoever hard they might try to be,
Just as I cannot be them.
I am me. Period.”
Sunil Prem, Oct 2017
We live our lives hiding behind masks. We have a mask for each occasion – one for acquaintances, another for friends and yet others for superiors, subordinates, and so on. The masks reveal our need to hide.
Why does someone hide?
Because he or she is ashamed or is afraid – afraid that he or she is, “NOT GOOD ENOUGH.”
Our actual selves we think would bring us shame or loss. Revealing our actual selves, we believe, would expose us to disapproval or disdain. Masks become convenient escapes that hide our shame and fears by projecting imaginary selves that we think we should be, but that we are certain we are not.
What happens when we hide something too well?
We forget it!
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Image: “There is no face behind your mask” Author: geralt / 16465 images, Pixabay, Source: https://pixabay.com/en/face-mask-appearance-psychology-1602484/, License: CC0 Creative Commons
Soon, our true selves get lost behind our masks. They get lost even to ourselves. We begin to invest in the masks that others would see. We embellish our masks each day – with status & possessions, which we feel will bring us even more approval. We shun all individualities, dissents, beliefs, and originalities, which we feel might bring us any sort of disapproval! Because we now exist only in the eyes of others. Their moods, smiles, admirations, and scorns now define us completely.
While our inner selves rot in a wretched, dark, unremembered place… Then we wonder, why we feel an emptiness in our core.
Is it a wonder then,
Why so many of us seek gurus, coaches, or anyone else who we feel might help us find our true selves, and make that hollowness go away?
Meanwhile, our true selves are right there, waiting to be re-discovered and re-respected.
How simple, elegant and attractive it is to live without a mask.
Just look at a child to see how beautiful she is – not because of the awesome features, but because of her lack of pretensions and guile. She wears no mask. She does not care who sees her. Her face is beautiful. It reflects, undistorted, the sheer beauty within. That beauty lies within each one of us. Yet, we hide it.
Now, for some action folks! Bring it on baby! Let it shine forth!
Resolve to unfetter your true self and let it shine forth. And to hell (hell being another universe) with anybody who does not like what we are. Judgemental people are usually those who do not respect themselves. Why crave for their respect?
This does not mean adopting arrogance – another mask. Nor does it mean not caring for others’ opinions or advice, nor not wanting to improve. A calm confident self is actually the start point to our true journey through life. A journey that starts from a defined point can take direction.
Your confident self is your swa–iswara.
Knowledge of your self gives you purpose and direction.
It fills you with humility, gratefulness, grace, and energy.
It allows you to listen to both criticism and flattery with equanimity. It lets you to look within, to distinguish flattery from encouragement, criticism from advice. It gives you both your GPS and your compass through life.
The Steps to Take
Words disappear faster than your breath in cold air. You are shaped by what you do.
Here are 3 simple steps that you need to take, to be rid of your masks.
1. Build ‘Self-Esteem’ and ‘Character’.
This is actually a conundrum – what comes first, losing your masks or self-confidence? What precedes the other?
Actually, none. Instead of focusing on the masks and your confidence, focus on the root of your lack of self-respect. Shut-up that traitorous voice inside you, that keeps whispering, “I am not good enough!”
The roots of your lack of self-respect usually go very deep. The neurological basis of your self-confidence lie in your childhood, most of which lies undisturbed, literally at the back of your mind, influencing your current concept of yourself (I would strongly recommend the book, “I’m OK-You’re OK” by Thomas Anthony Harris, for a deeper understanding of the I’m Not OK state).
Simply grow to respect yourself for what you are today. As a friend, mentor and coach – Paritosh Pathak – says, we are our future selves in the making – a work in progress so to say. Be satisfied, therefore, with what you are today, for you are always tomorrow in the making. There is no rocket science to it. Just start being comfortable with yourself.
Tell yourself each day, “I am awesome.”This builds self-esteem. Because that is what you are – an awesome person in the making! For today, you are good enough.
This also builds character – for what is character if not individuality. Besides, Just as wearing a mask defined you, so could not wearing one become your signature. So long as you do not do it merely to shock.
2. Have less to hide.
Try to have less to hide. Those of you who hide a lot will, I guarantee you, be shocked happy and silly, at discovering how little others care.
It is indeed funny how all of us keep hiding the same badly kept secrets from each other.
The corollary to having less to hide is to not have shame in what you do. Your weaknesses of today are OK. You are working at them, which is good enough. You need not be ashamed of them.
Besides, weaknesses and strengths are not two ends of a scale. Like everything else, they are a continuum. There is no shame in being part of a continuum that encompasses all of humanity.
No shame. No masks.
In addition, no masks make your life simple. You can now discard those thousand masks that you maintained for those thousand occasions. It makes you effective and efficient. You will also love the internal high that goes with it.
3. Practice and Repeat
Do it. Do it. Do it again.
It is liberating.
Be the real you, without a mask.
The really funny and paradoxical thing is, that
Throwing away your masks gets you all those things,
That you wore those masks for.
Sunil Prem, Oct 2017