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Unmasking the truth

“We can never fully hide who we are behind a mask.”

Last week’s article underscored the belief that at times, wearing a mask allows us to break out of our shell and exhibit an unrestrained side we normally wouldn’t want others to see. Interestingly, a few comments pointed out that on occasion, some use masks as a crutch or even worse, how masks can evoke a dark side in others. While there are harmful or negative metaphors which certainly can be associated with wearing them, the article’s intention was to raise awareness that some of us should embrace these masked talents and allow them to shine.

Too often, we are confounded by our own inhibitions and insecurities, leading us to make excuses for reasons to remain in the shadows or behind the mask.

Self-doubt is likely the most common reason for underachievement and disappointment in our capabilities. All too often, we perceive ourselves as ordinary, average, or unexceptional, and any recognizable talent we may demonstrate is something everyone else undoubtedly can do with remarkable ease. This one thought alone is the biggest lie we could ever say to that person staring back at us in the mirror.

When others we know undergo a lack of self-confidence, we’ll attempt to encourage them by saying that everyone is unique and has particular talents. However, the moment we experience a similar struggle, those very same words which rolled off our tongue, never afford us that same inspiration.

Why is it so easy to recognize talents, gifts, and skills in others yet so easily dismiss them in ourselves?

While there are myriad explanations why we act this way, basically, 99% of them boil down to shame – that is to say the negative things we’ve come to believe about who we were and are. From a very early age, we get bombarded with others saying hurtful, damaging, or destructive things to us. In addition, when we’re told those things by people we love and trust, it intensifies those words – and feelings – even more.

One way to overcome these negative beliefs we hold about ourselves, is to “unmask” these untruths we’ve been told, and begin to view ourselves with a different, more positive perspective. Hold fast to the knowledge that everyone is unique. And that “everyone” includes you!

If only the remedy were as easy as taking off a mask, that would speed up achieving more self-esteem. However, there is one key ingredient which will help you in your battle to defeat shame. For most of your life, you’ve most likely believed you were many of those untruths told to you, and because it has been a part of your thinking for that long, it has become habitual or even worse, factual.

But it is not! Learning to change these kinds of thoughts about ourselves doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice. It’s also helpful to remember that when you do slip up, forgive yourself for not remembering to have confidence. Similar to anything which we strive to improve, it takes preparation, practice, and dedication to accomplish. Is there anything as important as self-esteem and confidence?

This week, see if you can catch yourself in moments of self-doubt or insecurity and tell yourself you’re not really that person. It can begin a whole new chapter in your life’s purpose. I look forward to your comments.

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