Think about the roles you have in this journey of life. In “The Mastery of Self”, Don Miguel Ruiz Jr calls these roles, our “masks”. It’s what the world sees when they look at us. It’s what we project out to the world consciously or unconsciously. Each of us has so many, and they change and shift as our lives do. There is an almost unlimited amount of masks. Some masks we may love, and some we may resent. Some we choose, some we are given and some we are born with. With each mask comes obligations, responsibilities, and expectations.
What are the different masks you wear? Some of them will be obvious. However, also think about the ones that aren’t so obvious. Those that may be a little more subtle. For the sake of this discussion it’s helpful to mindfully consider all your masks. It may even help to write them down. Read through the list you create. Think about them. Bring them fully into your present awareness.
As an example, here are my masks;
And probably more...
How do these masks shape your life? How do they make you feel? You may be feeling a variety of emotions. We are nothing if not complex. Add to that complexity, that each person you come in contact with has their own masks. To further the complexity, each person you know has their own interpretations of your masks and their masks. Who decides what the masks mean? Do you decide what your masks represent? Does someone else? Ultimately, if we don’t decide what our masks mean, we will be at the mercy of what others think. With 7 billion people on this planet, that becomes an impossible task. Therefore it is vital that we become aware of our masks, what they mean to us, and how we want them to be portrayed to the world. That is why creating your list and mindfully reviewing it, is so important.
In “The Mastery of Self”, Don Miguel Ruiz Jr takes the idea of masks another step. He brings the reader’s attention to the attachment we have to our masks. Not only do we want to be aware of all our masks, we want to be aware of the power our masks have over us. If you think you are your masks, you are powerless. If you think you will not exist without your masks, you have formed an unhealthy dependence, or attachment, to them. As we become aware of which masks we are wearing at certain times, we can start to create an awareness of how attached we are to those masks. How important are they to us? How important is other people’s perceptions of our masks? Their acceptance of them?
These are the first two steps to awareness; becoming aware of your masks, and becoming aware of your attachment to them. Once you are actively functioning in this awareness, you can start to move into a place of empowerment. In this place, you will able to pick up and put down masks as needed. You will be able to discard masks you no longer want. You won’t be swayed by other’s interpretations of your masks, because you will feel secure in where you stand.
Becoming aware of your masks and learning how to master them, will lead you to a place of empowerment and clarity.
with love & belief, emilie