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Dropping the Mask

by K.C. Lomonaco, Psy.D., R.N.

Happy Fall! I love the mountains this time of year and the changing leaves. What a great time to get outdoors and get some fresh mountain air! It is a good way to clear the head and open the heart, a way to move the body a bit differently and to get that sunshine I mentioned last month. In this month of masks and masquerades I want to briefly discuss our desires to truly be ourselves and how to work on shedding the masks we often hide behind.

While this time of year it is fun to dress up and try on different costumes and different personas, how do we come to truly shine in our own skin? It is true that we all have different faces: we are not the same with our parents as we are with our friends as we are with our bosses or at the gym even. We speak a bit differently, hold ourselves a bit differently, even at times behave a bit differently. It’s not uncommon to have different shades of ourselves and it is in fact perfectly normal. The real question is do all those different shades of you paint the picture you want to see?

Finding your true self takes work and sometimes significant discomfort. Sometimes we outgrow those masks we put on or the people who encourage us to wear them. That means we have to push ourselves to try on new faces, behaviors, and actions, sometimes sitting in great discomfort and emotion to find the people and experiences that truly bring us joy and allow us to feel whole. The suffering in the short term can bring big payoff in the longer term. Emotions, just like all things, will pass. Sitting in the waves of them can be incredibly difficult but remember that they crest and peak and then move out. Imagine sitting in an ocean, a wave approaching. You have the choice to either ride it or let it take you out. Fighting it makes the challenge of it nearly impossible - it will surely take you out. Riding it can be strenuous, exhausting even, but it gets you over it and gives you a period of rest while you wait for the next one. Getting the right support and taking good care of yourself can help you counteract the hard parts of making these changes. All the things I’ve discussed previously can help you heal from the struggle including good food, good exercise, good sleep and good connection.

Putting yourself first, finding your true happiness, sometimes means shedding your masks and taking chances, but the rewards are a life that is truly one of your creation. One where you don’t fit into someone else’s boxes or ideas of who they want or need you to be. One where you get to truly show yourself to the world and the world gets to watch you shine!

As always, reach out if you’d like support or need help getting connected to someone to talk to! Enjoy the trying on of masks this Halloween, but don’t forget who you are underneath! It’s why I love Kali so much, we get to be who we are truly meant to be!

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