The "Masks" We Wear & Why We Need to Remove Them

Apr 07, 2022

Let’s talk about masks. I'm not talking about Halloween masks or masquerade masks, and especially not those medical masks we are forced to wear at the moment, but the masks we wear every day to show the rest of the world who we want them to see.

What are these masks? Why do we wear them? And why we need to remove them!

What is a mask? A mask is a face that we show to the rest of the world that we're okay on the outside, whereas we may actually struggle behind that mask. It can also be called “Masking”, where we hide a negative emotion and replace it with a positive one, even though we don’t always feel it.

Many people often hide behind their masks. They may be hiding their shame, embarrassment, depression, or anger issues, for example. Maybe they feel lonely or feel like a fraud or a failure. They may be struggling with life in general or struggling with the expectations placed upon them by others or society, of who they are meant to be and how they are meant to act as a person in today's world.

There are times, we may feel judged or even ridiculed if people saw that we were struggling. So, to protect ourselves, we keep that mask on to hide our feelings and our emotions.

Put simply, we wear masks to hide our pain, our perceived weaknesses and negative emotions.

Let me just make one thing clear. Masks are really important. We have to wear them…WHEN they are needed. They allow us to deal with traumatic and tough situations or events at that moment. Emergency responders, armed forces, those people are trained to deal with these events and situations and believe me, as an ex-police officer, they will be wearing their “Mask” at that moment.

Police officers, paramedics and firemen, have to deal with horrible shit every single day. Go to a murder scene. Go to a drug overdose. Resuscitating a child who nearly drowns. Cutting people from cars.

As emergency responders, they have to be present, take control of the situation, of other people, and be calm and collected. Imagine if they rocked up an emotional wreck, crying, shaking, not being able to think straight. It would be a disaster for everyone involved.

This isn’t to say they aren’t touched by it, emotional shaken and upset and want to cry or run. They are on the inside, but their Mask hides all this and their training takes over and the job gets done.

These “moments” can happen to each and every one of us at some point in our lives. Losing a loved one, someone having a traumatic accident (or being first at the scene), a family member being diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes we don’t have to put a mask on, and just cry it out. But, other times we have to be strong at the moment, often for others, so we put on our Mask and deal with it as best we can.

Later, once that moment has passed, or the person is no longer there, that’s when we take off our Mask and deal with the emotional aspects of the event.

One problem is, that we don’t always take off the Mask and do this. We keep the Mask on and ignore the underlying pain or emotion.

Another problem is, I believe, is that we start wearing our Masks at a young age, probably at primary school. We begin wearing them in order to try and fit in, to stop being bullied, and to try and make sure that we aren't the odd one out.

As a result, we try on different little masks to see which one fits us and how we can best fit into our little community. And because kids can be quite brutal at times, we can become very proficient at wearing our Masks very quickly. It's important that we understand this. We put this Mask on pretty early in life, but I believe the BIG PROBLEM is, that we don't always take the Mask off, are not shown how or forget to take the Mask off.

Being an ex-copper myself, and knowing a lot of currently serving or ex-officers, I can see what happens to these men & women who have been in “the job” for a long time. These officers experience traumatic events, after traumatic events, after traumatic events. And they're expected to be this tough, resilient person, who are meant to deal with this shit every day, are expected to deal with it (emotionally) and just get on with it.

I have seen a lot of them put their Mask on and NEVER take it off. They never get the emotional release, never process the trauma or pain, and maybe never really acknowledge the impact it has on them. As a result, they never get the help and support they need. Just to be clear - I did exactly that.  

All the emotional shit, the pain and trauma build up underneath. Marriages fall apart. Both physical and mental health can be significantly affected. Only 2 weeks ago, another police officer here in WA took his own life. To his family, my deepest condolences. RIP.  

Burying and ignoring, masking it all can have the same effect on us. If we don’t take our Masks off and deal with our pain, our trauma, our shit, then it will continue to fester under the surface. It can affect all aspects of our life. Our relationships, our health, our work, our family, our opportunities and wherever else you can think of.

If people refuse to remove the Mask and deal with the shit buried under it all, then often they will attempt to numb their pain. They may numb it with alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, gaming, TV, video games, sport or work.

Relationships can break down. We may shut ourselves off from others. We don't want to be seen as we have a weakness or are struggling…so we continue to mask and numb.

I believe a lot of time we actually wear our Masks because we're expected to behave in a certain way. The expectations of Women today have changed significantly over the past 40 years. Now it is work and have a job and be good at it, or have a career and be successful, and still run a household, raise your children, be a great mum and a wonderful wife, a good cook and be there for everyone else…and look good doing it.

What a load of shit. It's not possible. Each Woman has to find their own groove and find what works for them

And for men, the age-old adage is that we need to be tough and hard. We need to be the breadwinners, hardworking beer drinkers. We don't show our emotions or our feelings. We don’t show our fears. We don't cry and we don't show our weaknesses. And heaven forbid we go and ask for directions.

That's just not who we are. We are emotional beings underneath this hard shell that we are expected to show. We have to open up. We have to stop trying to live up to the expectations of society or other people. It’s impossible.

It's time…to stop putting on that Mask and saying, “Look at me, I’m Fine. My life is great. I'm fantastic. Look how wonderful my family is. Look how great my job is.”  If that’s the case, then fine, but if in reality behind that Mask the relationship is breaking down, that we are depressed, sad and struggling, then it has to stop.

To understand this a little deeper, each person must first acknowledge they are wearing a Mask. Then they must realise what Mask they are wearing.
(Please note: You may wear more than one Mask, but there is always one that you wear more than the rest – this is your primary mask.)

There are many different types of masks, I have listed a few of the main ones for you below. Which is your primary mask?

  •  The bully
  •  The know-it-all
  •  The social butterfly
  •  The Superman or Superwoman - who can do everything. They never need any help.
  •  The cool cat - the Fonzie type character
  •  The tough guy
  •  The perfectionist
  •  The victim – blames everyone apart from themselves
  •  The class clown or joker
  •  Mr or Mrs Invisible - hiding at the back of the class or meeting trying not to be noticed.  Don't say anything, don't speak up.
  •  I'm busy – always busy
  •  I'm okay

For me, “I'm okay” was always my go-to. I'd go to work every day and I pretend I was okay. For 30 years, I suffer from depression. I'd come home from work, after pretending all day that I was “Okay” and I'd be exhausted.

This is one of the main problems about wearing a mask and not taking it off, and not dealing with our shit. It is BLOODY EXHAUSTING. Being professional at work is one thing, but pretending to be up and happy all the time when you feel broken, depressed and like a fraud, took its toll on me. It was exhausting and just exacerbated my entire problem.

It’s really important we understand we HAVE to take our Masks off. Again, first, we must be aware we are wearing a Mask, what Mask it is and that we must remove it.

Removing our Mask will allow us to deal with the issues buried underneath. Whether it is from a trauma, an emotional event, being hurt or rejected, losing a loved one, being bullied, assaulted or sexually assaulted, whatever the underlying issue is, we need to deal with it.

We need to STOP MASKING who we are. We need to be ourselves. We need to be vulnerable. We need to deal with our pain. We need to stop hiding who we truly are because each of us is truly amazing, powerful, unique and magnificent people in our own right.

So, let's be magnificent.

I ask you…
What's your mask?
What are you masking?

It's time to take off your Mask!
It’s time to be you.

“Behind every mask, there is a face, and behind that, a story"
- Marty Rubin -

What’s your Story?

Peace, Love and healing

Dr Brett Dellar (Chiro)

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