Halloween isn’t the only time of year that people wear masks. What if I told you that people like you and me oftentimes wear masks consciously or unconsciously as a result of our life experiences?
“We all have three faces. The first face is the face that we show the world. The second face is the face that we show our friends and family. And the third face is the face that we show to nobody, in that third face is our truest self.”
All of us, including myself, wear masks throughout the year. Now the goal is to be able to be aware that we’re wearing a mask and the second one is to be able to remove it when necessary to be able to be fully authentic and fully stand in our own space and our own presence and to be able to communicate with others mask-free.
This post is going to identify 9 different emotional masks that human beings wear, why they wear them, what’s the background, and for you to recognize which of these masks you might be wearing.
1. The Humorist
The humorist is also known in layman’s terms as the class clown we all know what that person’s like. No matter what the situation is, they deflect with humor. They could be dealing with something super sad or overwhelming and somehow they’re cracking jokes in the middle of it. Or it’s like a Class A kid in the classroom – they’re just constantly acting out to the point they got removed from the class. The best example for a professional humorist or Class Clown would be our beloved stand-up comedians. If you read the autobiography of most funny human beings their childhood is riddled with pain.
So if you are a humorist, just know that the reason for it is coming from some type of sadness that you experienced in your life that was so overwhelming that instead of dealing with it you just crack jokes about it, crack jokes about it, crack jokes about it, and you’ll never let anyone close. It’s one thing for the kid to be the funny kid but when you’re an adult and you’re the funny adult that’s always cracking jokes and never takes anything seriously you might want to look at that.
2. The Overachiever
The Overachiever is something that a lot of people can get away with. You want to know why? Because society rewards you for this one. Society says, “Oh, you’re really, really good at something,” or “You’re really, really good at a lot of things,” and you do everything really well. But it comes with a cost so why do certain people become overachievers? It’s oftentimes because they have this innate inadequacy. They don’t feel good about themselves and who they are and how they live so they overcompensate with accomplishments. They overcompensate with making sure that they are doing the best of their abilities at all things they can do and they’re burning at the both ends of the candle and they’re just always on the go and they’re trying to get good grades and they’re trying to be good at work and they’re trying to do good at relationships and they’re trying to be the best at everything. Because they feel that by doing so they can receive the love, the recognition, the acknowledgement, whatever you want to call it, of the world, and when they don’t get it it’s an empty feeling. So if you’re an overachiever there’s nothing wrong with that.
I want you to know that we are human beings, not human doings. If you only identify with the things you achieve and not who you are as a person you’re going to be set up for disaster. And overachievers oftentimes come from dysregulated family systems. If there’s a lot of moving, if there’s a lot of chaos, if there’s a lot of dysfunction, if there’s a lot of instability, they think that the X Factor is going to be by accomplishing everything I can accomplish. And this can lead into things like perfectionism which causes significant impairments in life. And again, society pats you on the back for this one. Society pats the standup comedians on the back too. So we got to be really careful when we’re wearing these masks on days that are not Halloween. Do we have the time, space, the moment to take them off and actually identify with the person underneath the mask?
3. The Martyr
The Martyr is the one that is always self sacrificing themselves for their environment, for their people. And the most annoying thing a martyr does is they tell the people around them,
How much I’ve sacrificed for you, I’ve given up my hopes, my goals, my dreams, my ambitions for you, and this is how you reward me.” The Martyr always feels like he or she is the victim in every circumstance of their life. I want you to know this if you are a martyr. First of all, I know you get defensive to be called a martyr but if you are a martyr I have compassion for you even if I’m saying it with a goofy smile. Do you want to know why? Because at some point in your life there’s a very high probability that you actually were the victim. There’s a high probability that your needs never got met, that your self esteem was never nurtured, that you were never given the love that you deserved. What you’re doing now is you’re going through life, giving everything and anything of yourself to others to just feel loved. And when they don’t love you back the way that you’re loving and when they don’t give back what it is that you’re giving them your expectations get shattered and you start to feel resentful.
I’m not saying it’s wrong being any of these things. I’m just saying when we over identify with these personas it becomes our reality. I mean someone that is a martyr or a victim, they just happen to be that way everywhere they go.
4. The Bully
So we all know what a bully in school looks like, Let’s just say there’s a fifth grader that’s a class bully, like one of those fifth graders that we all know about, that just says mean things to kids and hurts kids and does harmful things to kids and everybody gets mad at the bully.
I’m not justifying their behavior by the way. I’m not saying it’s right to be a fifth grader and be a bully but if fifth graders oftentimes are like 11 or 12 years old, if you had a chance to watch that bully walk home all the way to his house, like bird’s eye view and go inside of his house, and put a little camera and observe what happens inside that kid’s house, there is a very high possibility /probability /predictability that that child is experiencing some type of bullying behavior inside the home, or is observing and watching some type of bullying behavior inside the home. He is just doing to others what is being done to him or what’s familiar to him. I’m not justifying it but I’m saying that’s the reason why it’s so painful to watch that or experience that, that you go out and you do it to other people as a coping skill. It’s another mask that people wear. Now when it’s a child we can all say, “Well, that kid is a victim of their circumstances and surroundings,” but where I start to have a challenge and an issue is if that you’re a bully and now all of a sudden you’re 18-20-25-30 years old and you’re still bullying other people, it’s no longer on the environment that brought you up. Now it’s on you. Because if you’re aware of it you must do the work to change it. Because if you don’t you will do to others what was done to you, even if it was painful, and if you want to break multigenerational patterns of dysfunction in multigenerational patterns that get passed on the negative ones you got to break that cycle.
So finding out why I lash out or act out and bully other human beings, why do I exert my dominance? By the way, bullying sometimes can come in the form of intellectual stuff. So some people that are really smart can use intellectual kind of comments, and they can intellectualize things, they can use sarcasm as a form of bullying somebody else’s intelligence. I mean it’s ridiculous but the bully is someone that at some point in their life was feeling it. Nobody just randomly becomes a bully ever, ever. So that’s another mask right there.
5. The Control Freak
How does one become a control freak? It usually happens as a response to adverse childhood experiences when our environment, the people, places, and things in our environment as we’re growing up were out of control. Maybe there was family discord, and maybe there was fights, and maybe there was abandonment, maybe there was a lot of moving, maybe there was a lot of noise and chaos, maybe there was a volatile socioeconomic status, maybe it was just a very difficult upbringing that was out of the control of the child, so the person starts to overcompensate by engaging in thoughts and behavior that are kind of overly controlling. This can happen with our environment. Things like OCD, people that have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that are in a constant strife and need to control things. It could become with our physical bodies, people that have eating disorders – there the only one thing you can control is yourself. If you can’t control the environment it can come in relationships and people do this with their loved ones all the time. So the control freak is a response. So remember it’s a response and an adaptation for someone who growing up, experienced adverse childhood experiences that were related to things being out of control. And the control freak annoys people because nobody wants to be around one.
6. The Self Basher
This is the person whose environment was so hypercritical on them and was so overly intense on them that they start to believe the stuff that was told to them. How many people say they’re stupid when they’re not? How many people say they’re not worthy of love or happiness when they are? Where do you think all this comes from? It’s a mask they put on, adaptations to adverse childhood experiences. It’s sad when I see someone being super critical of themselves. You know what I tell them? Start to, at the end of every day, identify three things that you did well. Just three. Maybe it was a conversation you had with somebody, maybe it was a few tasks that you had to complete that you got done. Maybe it was the way that you loved yourself and you went around the block and took a walk and ate an apple and meditated and slept early. Whatever it is, whatever it is, start to identify the positive, and the positive will grow. Keep focusing on the negative, and the negative is all that there will be.
Having to deal with the core belief of not being good enough can be a real challenge. These thoughts, these ideas, these experiences start to become something called a core belief. Now a core belief is something that we hold as true about self as a result of the life experiences we had, however it’s not the truth. It’s just the belief that we have that we over identify with. So he says that it’s really challenging to overcome. It is, because we over-identify with it. And it’s trying to say, “Hey, how can I overcome who I am?” It’s not who you are. It’s who you think you are. It’s who you had to become. The beauty of life is that we could transform our story and we can create new core beliefs, ones that are around and geared towards our personal and professional development, ones that align with our true self, who you actually want to be in life.
7. The People Pleaser
A People Pleaser says what they think that others want to be told, they do what they think others want to be done, and they go where they think others want them to go. There is no sense of self. They get their entire self worth of becoming who and what they think they’re supposed to become for the environment and the people in that environment to approve of them, accept them, and ultimately love them. But guess what? It’s never enough. And in that pursuit of being accepted and loved, in that pursuit they completely get disconnected and lose touch with who and what they actually are.
Here’s the reason why people do that. It is because it all comes from low self-esteem. It all comes from lack of self-worth. It all comes from inadequate receiving of this thing called love growing up, and they go on this constant pursuit. People Pleasers have a really hard time and they start to experience a lot of things around the world of anxiety and depression, a lot of things.
8. The Isolationist
We have these words, introvert and extrovert. Those are kind of healthy expressions of human behavior and personality. We can be a little bit introverted, we could be a little extroverted, we could be a little bit of both, we could be more leaning or more dominant on the other one, but the isolationist is completely on the extreme introvert side. And here’s the reason why. Because if I go put myself out there, if I connect with other people I’m going to get hurt. It’s safer to be by myself than it is to be in the world. I’d rather do everything on my own, than expose myself to the possibility, the potential of let down. And the introvert experiences extreme loneliness and sadness in life, extreme. Somebody that’s an isolationist, because what is a human being? What is the human experience all about? It’s about the connection we’ve talked about in these rooms, that the opposite of addiction is connection. So the opposite of misery and sadness and loneliness and all that stuff is connection. So if you’re an isolationist I get why you do it – because the world hurt you. But I’m also telling you that the cure for sadness and loneliness is connection. It’s a double-edged sword. Eventually you got to start to learn to trust and you got to start to learn to try and you gotta start to take some risks – small ones – to break away from that. And you might always be okay with being an introvert but not an isolationist.
9. The Social Butterfly
A social butterfly can’t be by themselves. Because when they were by themselves growing up they were probably just around some intensity and all they wanted to do was get the heck out of the house. Get the heck out of the house and be anywhere but there. They just wanted to be with people 24/7. They can’t be by themselves. They just go and go and go and they just kind of feel like that’s the way that they’re going to be okay. But as soon as the lights are off and the cameras are off and the people are gone and they’re by themselves again they get very, very, very uncomfortable. The exact opposite of the isolationist. So the social butterfly is draining, oftentimes to keep that persona up, things like drugs and alcohol have to kick in, or just some type of a you-gotta-be-a-chatter-box that drains the heck out of me. I’m a big, big talker. I could talk for 12 hours in a day but trust me, I got to go home and plug myself into the wall, if you will, and just disconnect.
So in conclusion, Halloween is not the only day of the year that people wear masks. This post is to inform you and notify you that all of us, including myself, can wear these masks any day of the year, but please make sure that you take these off once in a while and you look at the person underneath the mask and honor that person and make sure you connect to that person.