Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Social Mask and Being your True Self

Man and woman with elegant carnival masks


If you cannot trust yourself, who can you trust? All our existence is shaped by our perception, our personal phenomenological world. The exterior world needs to make sense to us; otherwise we either continuously live in fantasy or in constant confusion.

One of the arising problems, however, comes from the fact that we are told and evaluated by everyone (such as, media, school, parents, and friends) what is acceptable in our behavior and attitudes. Organized religion tries to taint and control our perception of “phenomena”, the outside world, by (force?)feeding us spiritual ideas and conceptions, attempting to guide also our life in the “noumena”, our own interior world.

It comes as no surprise that we often end up feeling insecure and divided. There are certain things we cannot or rather should not do or say in the presence of others, hence we need to create our social persona, our social mask that we show others, that we let the outside world see.

Sometimes it is just a more polite and controlled version of our true self; in other cases, it is contradictory to it. In the latter cases, we may experience stress because of incongruity or we may just distance ourselves with the treacherous aid of hypocrisy. It seems all right in either case to play another role, an actor for the social strata, but, in reality, we may be the exact opposite and suffer from it internally.

However, if we can find a way to harmonize our own way of being with our social self (or if at least they are not too far apart), then we may feel at ease with and within ourselves and be at home in our own skin. To be oneself, if by this we mean a 100% congruence of how we feel and a spontaneous expression thereof, may not always be advisable though.

In fact, it could get us into a lot of trouble, especially when the feelings are of an aggressive nature or when they are conflicting or when those actions might be reckless and put ourselves or others in danger. In some instances, it would be better not to act upon those harmful desires. I think that sometimes we need to curb, “sacrifice” or give up certain desires for the sake of overall peace and harmony.

But as long as we are true to the core values of who we are in terms of personal integrity and honesty, and we have an acute awareness regarding the social mask we are wearing; as long as we inherently know that it is just a role society wants and actually needs us to play - both for our own safety and for that of others - we should be fine with integrating those parts into our own fully embodied personality.

2 comments:

amrit said...

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Duni said...

I think living from our 'true self', our spirit vs. our ego-enhanced self is one of the biggest challenges we face in our lifetime.
I find that I am most true to my spirit in the privacy of my own home, while it gets more difficult in a business environment. However, over the years I have learned to let my true self shine through regardless of others' expectations, judgments or opinions.