Halloween is not the only time we put on masks.
In October, as the days start getting cooler and the trees start to shed their leaves, we turn our attention to the big event at the end of the month – Halloween! Costumes and masks are on display in the stores, along with pumpkin carving kits, pumpkins in all shapes and sizes and of course, BIG bags of candy.
Masks have been worn since the beginning of time, for ceremonial and practical purposes. There is a stone mask from the pre-ceramic Neolithic period dates to 7000 BCE that is on display in the Musée de la Bible et de la Terre Sainte in Paris. It is probably the oldest mask in the world.
Masks have many purposes.
Masks have been worn for protection; physicians wear masks in operating rooms and manicurists wear them in salons. Performance and entertainers use them. Cirque de Soleil is famous for the make-up artistry used create exquisite masks painted on the faces of their performers. Go to a circus and you’ll see clowns donning on grease paint to create their funny and sometimes sad faces. Masks can be found around the world.
And masks are used for disguise.
Party stores are full of Halloween costumes and masks; there are funny ones and scary ones and some that are just plain freaky to look at!! It’s fun to play dress-up and wear disguises. It’s fun when you get to choose your costume and mask.
What “invisible” mask are you wearing?
For some, wearing a mask, even an invisible one has become a daily habit and a method of survival. We all have values and motives for our behavior. It is the “why” we behave the way we do. There are numerous assessment tools that are used by corporations and training companies to help identify an individual’s personality or behavioral style. The Myers Briggs assessment identifies 16 different behaviors. DISC uses 4 and focuses on how certain behaviors respond to stress. In our workshop, The Gift of Others, we use the Self Deployment Inventory (SDI), developed by Dr. Elias Porter who also created the Relationship Awareness Theory. The SDI describes 4 prominent motivational styles and 3 blends. It also addresses the use of “masks” in everyday situations. As a Master Life Coach, it is important to be able to distinguish the difference between being authentic and being in-authentic by wearing a “mask” that is contrary to their natural state of behavior. There are times when one might want to “borrow” a mask. Because borrowing is a choice, there is no conflict. Feeling “forced” to wear someone else’s mask is what we watch for in coaching sessions.
The Masks associated with the 4 prominent
Let’s take a look at the four prominent personalities or behaviors. Each has its own distinctive “mask”. Some people wear the Assertive mask. These people like to be leaders, they like risk and challenges, and they like to get things done. Then there are people who wear the Analytical mask. They like organization, fairness, and autonomy. Another group are the Nurturers, who are always willing to support others. Family comes first, then fiends and they have a hard time saying “no.” The fourth group wears the Flexible mask, they are the ones who have great people skills, like to have fun, are cohesive, and able to see all sides of a situation. It takes all four groups to create a balance within a group or organization.
Borrowing a mask is useful.
Sometimes we wear a mask to portray a behavior that we believe is necessary or required for a certain situation. Susan has a natural tendency to be more nurturing than assertive. She likes to help others and when she does, she feels good about herself. One day, she goes to pickup her clothes from the cleaners and discovers that one of her favorite shirts has been ruined. She is in turmoil. She doesn’t like to make a scene and she immediately mentally makes an excuse for the poor employee who damaged her shirt. In this case, it would serve Susan to borrow the mask that her friend Jane wears. Jane is a no nonsense kind of woman. She asks for what she wants and usually gets it. She doesn’t think she’s rude when she sends her dinner back to the kitchen because her steak is well done and she ordered it rare. Susan decides to borrow Jane’s assertiveness and requests that the cleaners compensate her for her shirt. She isn’t comfortable standing up for herself at the time, however, she notices later, on her way home a since of pride that she did. Borrowing can be useful and it is always of choice. Jane, on the other hand, can borrow Susan’s mask when she needs to be more patient and compassionate with her co-workers.
Being “forced” to wear someone else’s mask is painful.
When Bob, who wears the Flexible mask by nature, meets John, his new roommate, he thinks John will be great, because John’s neat and tidy. John wears the Analytical mask. To John’s horror, he discovers that his roommate is a slob! In spite of Bob’s good nature and sense of humor, John, is constantly criticizing Bob’s behavior. John needs the financial support of a roommate, so he starts to wear the Analytical mask. He tries to keep the apartment neat, but he’d rather watch the football game then vacuum. In fact, he’d rather have his buddies over to watch the game with him! It’s like Oscar and Felix, from the Odd Couple. Pretty soon Bob notices that he’s not having fun anymore and hates coming home. He doesn’t like having to wear a mask that just isn’t who he is – he doesn’t like how it makes him feel. And now he’s also angry and resentful because there’s a financial agreement in place. John doesn’t understand why Bob is so touchy all the time and wishes he had a different roommate.
What mask do you wear? Most importantly, is it by choice? It’s good to borrow a behavior, like borrowing a coat, when it’s needed. However, it’s important to return the coat to the lender. It’s a serious issue when you feel you have to be someone you’re not. Sometimes in life we wind up wearing a “mask” that isn’t who we are, it’s a disguise. It’s not borrowed. We feel we must “be, do or act” a certain way to stay in a relationship or keep a job. Sometimes we start wearing a “mask” to please parents, to attempt to be what they want for us, rather than be who we are and living our life accordingly. This is the disguise that eats at the soul and causes dis-ease with one’s Self. Unhealthy relationships, dead end jobs, or having to be with negative, toxic people make us feel trapped, insignificant, and forced to wear a disguise.
Life is meant to live! Go for the Treats!!!
One cannot thrive wearing someone else’s mask. If you find yourself doing so, perhaps it’s time to take it off. Embrace who you are. Give your Self permission to be authentic. If you need support to go through the changes necessary to “remove” the unwanted mask, seek the help of a Life Coach. If you’d like to learn more about behavioral styles or personality types, check out The Gift of Others Workshop. It’s never too late to live your life by your design and to fulfill your purpose. It’s never too late to restore your self esteem and live a joyful life. It’s a choice! If not, “the Goblins will get you if you don’t watch out”!