Six Clues That You Might Be Living Behind a Mask

A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended a Halloween party. In addition to the hayride, the food, and festivities, there was an array of costumes for children of all ages. There were masks, wigs, full-body armor as well as an endless collection of light-sabers, fairy wands and Dorothy-red shoes.

 

Yet in the midst of the festivities, I noticed a slight discomfort deep inside. It brought me back to a time in life where I, too, wore a mask. To be honest, I spent years hiding behind a mask of a different sort. I was terrified to let others see or know the real me.

 

My mask was the mask of my imposter, my counterfeit. It was a familiar mask, though. I had grown accustomed to its protection, comfortable with its confinement.

 

My imposter forced me to be everything to everyone, never let anyone down, perform the best, achieve to receive their applause and never, ever say no.

 

How did this happen?  God formed each of us and knit us together in our mother’s womb. He designed our personalities and identities uniquely and sought only to delight in His creation.

 

As we grew and developed, we encountered a broken world full of broken people who began to impact how we experienced ourselves and the world around us.

 

The masks of our imposters began forming long ago as a way to deal with life as we knew it. Our masks kept us safe, protected us from ridicule, rejection, abuse, shame.

 

Yet anything that prevents us from living out of our authentic selves, prevents us from truly living. We cannot experience peace. We cannot be present in each moment.

 

Many individuals have lived behind their mask so long, they do not know it is a mask.

 

So how do you know if you are living out of your authentic self, or if you are living behind a mask? There are six clues that you might be living behind a mask.

 

  1. Do you find it difficult to say “no”? Authentic people have a strong sense of themselves. They know what that can and cannot do for others and are able to respectfully draw boundaries that enable them to focus their energies on what they were actually created to do. If you are saying yes to everything, you will most likely become exhausted and frustrated. You will not have the emotional or physical energy to do the things you were called to do and you will wander farther away from your authentic self.
  2. Do you find yourself editing your thoughts, feelings or opinions depending on who you are with? Authentic people are the same in all environments. They have done the work to know their own thoughts and feelings as well as their opinions and can hold them respectfully whatever their environment.   If you find yourself changing your personality, your vocabulary, your opinions in different situations, you are most likely living behind a mask and will not develop a strong sense of self that will provide a strong foundation for your life. You will be forced to live as a chameleon and that gets tiring after awhile.
  1. Are you a perfectionist? Healthy individuals don’t have to strive for perfection to feel good about themselves. They have learned to accept their strengths and weaknesses. They no longer have to run from their weaknesses. They are at home with themselves, and others naturally feel at home with them. If you feel driven toward perfection, if you are harsh and critical of your mistakes, you will never experience lasting peace. This side of heaven, you will never achieve perfection. Come home to yourself. Let yourself off that hook. Breathe.
  1. Do you live in fear? Authentic people are not afraid. They don’t live in fear about what others think. They are at peace with who they are. They have learned to listen inside, to themselves and God, to discover their identity, their values and beliefs, and are on their journey of living out these qualities to the best of their ability. If you live in fear, afraid of other’s opinion of you, you will never be able to hear or believe God’s opinion of you. You won’t be able to formulate a compassionate and kind opinion of yourself. You won’t ever truly know who you are, nor will you be able to discover or cultivate your values and beliefs because you are more driven to live out someone else’s beliefs lest you offend or displease them. You will never feel the joy that comes in living out what you were uniquely created and called to do.
  1. Do you have a tendency to be defensive? Healthy individuals have already accepted their flaws and imperfections, therefore they don’t have to be afraid of criticism. They are able to reflect to see if criticism is accurate, to own responsibility, and determine what they need to do to in response. If you have difficulties listening to criticism, if you automatically become defensive at the slightest hint of disapproval, you will never be able to feel strong enough or safe enough with yourself to own responsibility for you. You will never be able to heal, to learn, to grow. You will never be able to lay down your walls and defenses that keep you safe. You will never be able to experience yourself as safe.
  2. Do you crave validation? Authentic individuals are not driven toward validation. They do not ask for it. They do not need it. Their validation comes from within. They know who they are, they feel passionately about what they do, and they pursue their purposes based upon their passion. If you are driven to accomplish, to achieve, solely for the applause, the pat on the back, the admiration, you live addicted to other’s validation and become stuck in a performance cycle that never ends. You feel elated and euphoric when it is there, and equally desperate and empty when it is not. God has more for you. There is a peace that is better than anything you can ever perform for, or merit. It is a peace based not on what you do, but based on who you are – even better yet, on whose you are!

 

If you continue to live behind a mask today, there is another option. You do not have to remain confined or limited to that which isn’t real.  You don’t have to live in fear.

God has so much better for you. God wants to help you remove the mask, to get to know your authentic self and watch him/her grow stronger in the light of His love.

Let’s start with a few facts.  The real you was created in the image of God.  The real you was fearfully and wonderfully made.  The real you is chosen.  You are loved.  You are called according to His purpose.  You have a hope and a future.  You are His beloved.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

When it comes to our identity, there truly is nothing like the real thing!

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Lisa, I love this. I have also lived behind a mask before, and these clues are sure signs that I look for to keep myself from running back!! Thank you!

    • lisamurray

      November 18, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      Bethany,
      When you’ve experienced living behind a mask, and you’ve experienced the freedom found in authenticity, that freedom and peace keeps you from ever wanting to run back. Love having you stop by today! Blessings.

  2. Very thought provoking questions, Lisa. I recognize some areas of improvement for myself in them. Thanks for linking up to Testimony Tuesday so faithfully each week!

  3. Ouch! These are very pointed — and very perceptive — questions. I’m working on #1 these days, always finding it hard to say “no.” I tell myself that it’s because I care so much about too many things, but I’m also aware that I sure do like people to think well of me . . .
    May God give us grace to take off our masks in His presence so that we will be free to stop wearing them forever.

    • lisamurray

      November 18, 2015 at 7:40 AM

      Michele,
      God’s presence is the safest place to begin taking off our masks. With Him, there is no need to hide, no need to pretend. Have a great day!

  4. Great post, Lisa. So thorough, and well written. Number 3 is the one that resonates the most with me. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and, truly, it’s one of the most freeing things to let go of the need for perfection. I wish I would have known how freeing it is, years ago. I agree with you, I am so much more myself without it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. 🙂 ((blessings))

    • lisamurray

      November 18, 2015 at 7:42 AM

      Brenda,
      Thank you for your kind words. I, too, am a recovering perfectionist. How freeing it is to let go and embrace the love God has for me, right in the middle of the imperfect! Have a wonderful day!

  5. Lisa,
    Yes…only in Christ and as we learn to rest more and more in His unconditional love and acceptance for us can we come out of hiding…Great post 🙂

    • lisamurray

      November 18, 2015 at 7:44 AM

      Dolly,
      I always love having you stop by! You are so right – it is His love that allows us to come out of hiding and begin to embrace our authentic selves as both beloved and worthy. We are only so because of His great love for us. Blessings, friend!

  6. Great post! This would be very helpful for teens. The questions are so applicable and easy to relate to. Visiting from #tellhisstory.

    • lisamurray

      November 22, 2015 at 6:33 PM

      I agree, Angela! Teens are just trying to figure out their true identities, but it becomes so easy to hide behind masks because they feel easier or safe in the moment. How empowering for a generation to feel free to discover their true identities and live passionate and authentic lives. Blessings always, friend!

  7. I loved these questions, Lisa and I can relate to the feeling of hiding behind a mask. There’s nothing like letting the real you shine through. What a blessing to read this today and find you on Faith & Fellowship. Hope we meet up again soon!

  8. Wow! What an honest and thought-provoking post! You’ve laid out a great list of questions pertaining to masks.

    I would have to say that God has been in the process of stripping off my mask for awhile now. I still tend to hold out in a few areas, but we have come a long way! Grateful to be living more in more in authenticity!

    I found your post today on FaithnFriends!

    Liked it so much that I tweeted it and pinned it here: https://www.pinterest.com/melredd/blog-link-parties-and-blog-link-ups/

    Hope you have a blessed weekend~
    Melanie

    • lisamurray

      November 22, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      Melanie,
      Thank you for sharing! I love how you reflect on God’s work in your life and how He is healing you and growing you in authenticity! So glad to have you here today. Blessings to you!

  9. It is so much easier to live behind a mask, but not nearly as rewarding. I find that I am working on each of these areas in varying degrees at different times. The toughest one right now is being able to say “no.” The one God has brought me the furthest on is #2 — I’m definitely more comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions than I used to be be. Not perfect by any means, but better. 🙂

    • lisamurray

      November 25, 2015 at 7:35 AM

      Wendy,
      Saying “no” is perhaps one of the toughest tasks for any of us! I believe we are all on our journey and as we become more and more like Christ, we also are becoming more authentic. We are able to lay aside our masks and live out of our belovedness. Blessings!

  10. Great points, thank you so much for your work and for this post! I have become much happier after realizing that God’s opinion of me is the only one that matters. I was stifled for years with worrying about others’ judgments of me, but I can now see how flawed that way of thinking was. Thank you for sharing all your perspective and advice with all of us, visiting from the Mommy Moments linkup.

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