I’m currently doing research on the “masks” we wear for success. The word “personality” comes from the Ancient Roman word “persona” which was the word for the mask a stage actor wore. Thus, our “personality” is the mask we wear in the world. Words have a lot of power and insight in them.
Yes, we all wear masks. When we are young, we wear a mask to cover our insecurities and get approval from our tribe. We keep wearing those masks our entire life. Inside, honestly, probably every single human is insecure. Even the Dalai Lama wears a mask, if you think about it. When millions of Tibetans are killed while you are the leader, it still hurts, but showing that all the time serves no one.
Advertisers recruit the top young psychologists to tap our deepest human fears and needs so they can show their product as the answer to fill the hole. It’s funny I’m doing this mask work and I just saw this new commercial, released March 7th, which shows a young man wearing his mask. His mask gets him the money and the sex! The mask covers that inner Gremlin’s voice of doubt, which we get to hear. We laugh because it’s uncomfortable to look at the truth of our experience in the mirror.
Of course, advertisers attempt to condition us to believe that buying their product will improve our mask. That makes for a very frail mask that’s always in need of another product, which is great for consumption, but lousy for the human. This is an outside-in approach to building our mask. We can call this outside-in approach “personality”.
What we want is an inside-out approach to building our mask. This could be called “character”. It’s kind of like the evolution of acting. Actors stopped “putting on” a mask and have been progressively learning to build the quality inside and have it come out in the “character” they portray. It makes for a more authentic performance. And in real life, it makes for a more authentic, integrated, and joyful human when the great inside comes out perfected in the mask. The mask is no longer a cover but instead becomes a laser of focused light. My best quality magnified.
How do you build this inside-out mask? I’m glad you asked! You could spend years studying on your own and trying to do it in a closet. But the best way to build your mask is with others! Work with people that can give you real feedback and tools to build your inner world so it comes out. With this inside-out approach, the gap closes between your mask (who you desire to be) and how you feel inside. You move through the game of life because you’ve built the right equipment for the game. Like an American football player charging to the goal line because he’s got the right equipment and training to use it.
Click on to the comments and let’s hear your thoughts about the mask.