Are you hiding behind a mask? Would you be surprised if I told you that most people are not being who they truly are and that, in fact, we are trained from a very early age to move away from our authentic selves.
When we are children, we are taught by adults how to act, how to think, what to believe and who to be. We are given messages that if we behave certain ways, that we are not good enough, and that certain behaviors, emotions and ways of thinking are bad.
As a result of this early conditioning, we create masks so that we can fit in and gain the approval and acceptance of others. Many people fall so fully into living behind their masks that they never have the opportunity to experience the richness of who they really are.
I am certainly no exception to the rule. From an early age I wore the mask of being a “good girl”. This was the role I played so that I would be accepted by my family, friends, other adult authority figures. Unfortunately, the person that I truly am did not completely mesh with the persona I presented to the world. As a result, I attempted to stuff down who I really was, and mostly did this by overeating. All the while, the true me was calling out to strip away the mask and allow myself to finally shine through. Denying who I was led to years of struggling with anxiety, depression and massive weight gain. I weighed 265 at my highest weight….all because I was denying my true self. I lost who I really was because I was busy trying to be who everyone else expected me to be.
This denial of myself led me to stay in jobs that were toxic and didn’t serve me. It also led me to stay in a marriage that I knew early on was not right for me at all. But I stayed much longer than I should have in that relationship, because it was expected of me.
This same problem exists for so many others. I see people every day that are trapped behind a mask that they have created. Many are stuck in bad jobs or relationships and have given up hope that they can ever have the life that they truly want.
Are you concerned that this may be you? Here are some signs to look for that can tell you if you’ve lost yourself.
- You feel like a fraud. This is actually one of the most common signs that you have lost connection with who you authentically are. You really are a fraud when you are being something other than the real you. The amazing thing is that once you reconnect with your true self, the feeling of being a fraud goes away.
- You are in a relationship or job that you know isn’t right for you. Often when we are living behind our mask, we settle for situations that just don’t work for who we really are. We may stay in a job or a relationship for much longer than we would’ve if we were being true to ourselves. Often we stay because it is expected of us, or because we don’t believe that we deserve a better life.
- You have dealt with depression or anxiety. This was actually a big one in my life for decades. When you are not living in the truth of who you really are, it is very common to experience depression, anxiety or both. Those feelings are your authentic self’s way of trying to get your attention, to give you a wake-up call that things are not right in your world. To this day, if I do something that is not in line with who I really am, I experience a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach that will not go away until I focus on doing what is right for me. I carried that ball of anxiety around for decades and couldn’t do anything to get rid of it! Once I began being true to the real me, it completely disappeared on it’s own.
- You don’t experience joy. How often do you experience pure, unadulterated joy? For many people, not often. We live in a society that is busy being offended, angry, frustrated, stressed and complaining. Honestly, most people are so busy living in the negativity that comes with living behind a mask that they don’t know what it feels like to live in joy. Once you do connect with who you really are, it is much easier to experience joy because you experience the freedom of being who you really are.
- You are afraid to speak up about important issues. When you are living behind the mask, many people don’t speak up about things that they strongly believe in. Whether it is politics, religion, sexual orientation or other beliefs, those who hold back do so because they are afraid that sharing what they really belief will cost them the approval and validation of others. So they hold in what they really believe and feel so that they don’t rock the boat.
- You find yourself envying others. Do others seem to have such freedom to speak their mind and be who they want to be? Do they seem to have an awesome job or an amazing relationship and you find yourself being envious of the life they are living? This is a big sign that you are not being true to who you really are.
The good news is that it is you absolutely can break out from behind the mask and begin living the life you’ve always dreamed of living. It is my mission in life to help people do just that. Once you begin being true to you, then you will find that you will be able to create the life that you’ve longed for…..intentionally!