Facing Fear

Facing Fear By Hiding Behind Masks

On some level we are all facing fear - afraid of being seen for who we truly are. Afraid of seeing ourselves for who we really are.Afraid of confronting our limiting beliefs, we avoid facing fear by hiding.

In order to prevent our true inner self from being seen, we wear a symbolic or metaphorical mask over our authentic personality in the hope that we will remain hidden.

Why do we do this?

facing fear

It is fear which creates the mask, and fear which keeps it in place. The mask is hiding our true and most beautiful self from both ourselves and from the world. In its place is a mask of un-beauty.

In order to find our authentic self we must align ourselves with facing fear by digging down to the deepest, most hidden part of ourselves, that fearful place where we dread what we think is hidden.

When we dig deeply enough into our hidden nature we find not darkness but light – and the realization that our safety lies in actually letting down the mask and being seen –
in being our true authentic self.

Facing Fear -
What's Behind the Mask?

What's Behind The Mask? By Nisandeh Neta
facing fear, wearing masks

Have you ever been to a masquerade party, or even watched the antics of masked revelers at Mardi Gras or Halloween? Normal, average people do some pretty crazy things when they are protected by the anonymity of a mask.


We are born into the world naked and exposed, totally vulnerable and dependent on the 'big people' around us.

We absorb everything they tell us, both positive and negative. We internalize other people's (especially parents') reactions to our actions and measure ourselves accordingly. If we break a toy and our mother says, "That's bad", we conclude that we are bad. When we are given the same feedback often, it becomes The Truth.

Since 80% of what we hear is negative, it is little wonder that we develop negative beliefs about ourselves, such as: "I'm stupid", "I'm ugly", "I'm weak", "I'm a failure", "I'll never make it" and my personal favorite, "I'm not good enough."

facing fear, wearing masks

Growing up, we harbor these beliefs, but keep them hidden because we don't want anyone else to know! We create an image of ourselves that is different from (and usually better than) the person we believe we are. We put on a mask that shows the world a different face and we hide behind it for as long as possible.

Most of us do that at one time or another, often when we hit the teen years. We “try on” different masks to see which is the most comfortable, which affords us the most protection from exposure.

When I was a teenager I was afraid that everybody would think that I was stupid. I needed desperately to hide my stupidity. So, I read a lot, accumulating stockpiles of information, and I developed a strong imagination that would help me invent what I didn't know.

And within a couple of years I developed a complete image of "I know it all".

Facing Fear

Have you ever had that dream where you are giving a speech to a crowded room but you are the only one without any clothes? People have a universal fear of being exposed. Hiding behind a mask makes the risk of exposure less frightening.

facing fear, wearing masks

Masks can take the form of "I know it all" or "I'm a nice guy" or "I'm dangerous" or "I'm tough" or "I'm special"... We try to believe that this is who we are, but the early “truth” still lingers: I am not good enough.

So we add layers and accessories that add more credibility to the whole costume—another diploma or award, another car or a bigger house. Gradually, the costume becomes very heavy.

The result?

Mental and physical exhaustion!

We burn out from the effort of trying to maintain a façade. We lose our ability to be spontaneous and enjoy the moment (“I can't dance—it doesn't fit my image”). We end up missing out on real relationships with others—they fall in love with the mask, or we don't let them get close enough to see what's under it.

Facing Fear - So How Do We Remove the Mask?

Facing Fear - So How Do We Remove the Mask?

facing fear

Well, there are basically 5 stages:

  • 1. Awareness
Think about your mask:

How it looks to you and to other people, when you put it on, when or if you ever take it off. Does it look like one of these: Nice Guy, Know it All, Know it Better, Tough Guy, Angry Bitch, Poor Me, Rebel, Misfit, Sickly, Joker/Clown, Martyr, Holy, Mr./Mrs. Busy-Important, Barbie Girl (stupid and sexy), Loner, Listener/Therapist, Preacher...

  • 2. Recognition
Become aware:
Of the costs in your personal and professional life of wearing your mask. See how your relationships are affected when you keep your image up. What limitations has it created? What is it that you "cannot", "shouldn't" or "wouldn't" do because it's not "appropriate" for you?
  • 3. Realization
Realize that your mask is not who you are.
Acknowledge the fact that you created your act for your survival and that probably for a while that was valuable, but it is not necessary any more. In most cases, the mask has served its purpose and now it is only a hindrance to your growth and happiness.
facing fear, opening the door
  • 4.Commitment
Be willing to drop your act
And commit yourself to do doing whatever it takes to become the real you. Some people never take off the mask and lose their identity and soul completely. Why waste the rest of your life pretending to be someone or something other than you?
  • 5. Action
Do whatever is necessary
To become authentically you... Do you hate golf, but play for the sake of your colleagues? Enlist some of them to do what YOU like. Do you hate working for someone else? Take a risk and start your own business…

So, get real.

Lose the mask. You are good enough!

Article by: Nisandeh Neta, founder of Open Circles, an international center for personal-growth and leadership. Visit www.opencircles.nl to learn more about how you can make a difference, through living your dreams.

What is Our Self Identity?
Within us all lies the deep yearning to know and to be known. From this comes the question of self identity, who am I? This question lies at the root of all searching on the journey towards meaning and purpose for our lives.

Read about why we are often unsupported by others as we work towards overcoming insecurity when removing our masks.

I would encourage you to raise your level of understanding about what your personal definition of stress is and how stress affects your health.

These stress quotes also show us how others have defined stress for themselves.

Until you make the unconscious conscious,

it will direct your life and you will call it fate ~
Carl Jung

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