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The Masks We Wear
by Sandra Shahrokh
I remember driving in traffic listening to Brene Browns book, “Rising Strong” on
audible and she said, “Denial of emotion is what feeds the darkness.” This quote
resonated with me in a very powerful way as it confronted my many years of living.
Deny emotion and numb out with alcohol. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Even at a young
age I always had a smile on my face. I knew that to deny my emotions would keep
me safe. Chances are you may know someone like this as well and this may even
resonate with you. The funny thing is that I really thought I had it all together but I
refused to take off what I see now as one of the many masks I wore.
In his book, “The Mustard Seed,” Osho writes, “In Zen it has been one of the deepest
meditations: to find your original face, the one you had before you came to this
world – and the one you will have when you leave this world, because you cannot
carry all these faces with you. They are gimmicks, techniques to deceive, techniques
to defend yourself, they are armors around you.”
It got me thinking about the masks we put on depending on what social situation we
are in or maybe we put on a new mask to escape how we are truly feeling. What
mask do you put on when you don’t want to feel something? Is it one of anger
because you are scared to let someone in? Is it one of happiness because you’re
hiding sadness? Or maybe it’s the one of strength because you don’t want to appear
weak. I can relate to all of these scenarios. The point is that when did we begin to
fear our authenticity? Masks were a powerful coping tool for me until they stopped
working but I do believe they served their purpose and kept me safe. The more
healing work I began to do on myself the more apparent it became that I could no
longer run from my authentic emotions.
Breathwork has been a huge tool in facing all of my shadows. It has stripped away
my armor leaving me feeling raw and vulnerable. I remember completing a
breathwork training and by the second day I walked into the training and
immediately was flooded by a deep sadness. I kept trying to figure it out saying to
myself, “Why am I crying right now?!” Again, trying to control the situation. It was
apparent I could no longer be my container for pain. I could no longer stuff it down
and that frightened me. I still wanted so badly to fight the tears but my body and
mind finally resisted. I think I cried for a couple hours that day and I am so grateful.
Grateful I am beginning to create a life where I can be my authentic self.