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Do You Know Your True Self?

Do You Know Your True Self?

Are you a fairy, a ghost, batman, a pirate, witch, goddess, a favorite movie star, or a monster? It’s that time of year when we put on our masks and become whoever we want, or maybe someone we think we really are.

What aspect of yourself will you be expressing? One year we were two geisha girls in tight kimonos and white make up. For Ed it was a chance to experience the feminine; for Deb it was a moment of stepping into someone else’s shoes and realizing how restricted such a lifestyle can be, which made her confront places she was restricting in herself. Another year Deb went as a lotus pond wrapped in a blue sheet with pink paper lotus flowers pinned all over, while Ed was am Indian holy man in orange robes and a turban, so as not to take the spiritual journey too seriously.

Does dressing up in a costume enable you to act out your secret fantasies? One year we were invited to Dublin to be on Kenny Live, a popular Saturday night television show, and we arrived at the hotel where we were staying to find ourselves in the midst of an over-50′s costume party. We got stuck in an elevator surrounded by every type of she-devil you could imagine, and the fantasies were pretty outrageous! It was hilarious.

Does expressing different parts of yourself highlight parts of your personality that normally never see the light of day? Do you feel you’re releasing some pent up hidden part of you that you need to express?

Or does it show how you normally hide behind false images and labels, such as race, religion or profession? We tend to identity with the content of our lives, yet beneath all the labels is our essence, that which we truly are. Can you find who is there without the masks or the façade, without all the many images of yourself? We so identify with the masks we may lose sight of what lies behind them. But the labels are only a part of us, not the whole of us, and we need to honor our whole being.

Try the questions below to get reconnected with who you really are:

Naming the Masks

Find a comfortable place to sit quietly. Have a pen and some paper with you. When you are settled, begin by making a list of all your big labels, the ones that are most obvious, such as race, age, mother, father, child, brother, sister, religion, job, profession and so on. Build a list that would tell the outside world who you are.

Then make a list of all your personal labels, the ways in which you see yourself, such as your physical health, size and looks. Move on to your emotional and mental labels, how you see your personality, strengths and weaknesses. This is a list that says how you see yourself and how you are seen.

Then make a list of all the parts of yourself behind the labels; the inner you that few people ever see. This may start negative, such as insecure, frightened, angry, sad, depressed and so on. But then focus on the positive, such as caring, loving, generous, kind, aware.

Now read your lists through a few times. Can you find the real you, in amongst the labels? Can you find a you that hides behind the masks? Are there ways that this inner you can find expression in your life? Write down any ideas on how you could bring this more hidden part of you into your life, so that you can begin to let go of the labels and the masks and live more authentically.

****

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change. See more at Revolutionary Mindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: EdandDebShapiro.com

74 comments

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9:44AM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Thank you!

7:24AM PST on Nov 27, 2013

I know everything about myself and no masks here...

3:10AM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Nice article :)
And thanks for inspiring all in here :)

11:39PM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

At the end of the day, at some point, you wind up with yourself. Like what you see? If not, work on changing it. You have the power, it's a personal choice you alone own, keep at it until you can live comfortably with you, that's primary ... everything else is secondary.

6:19PM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

Masks can protect as well as hide. I am very thankful for my protective masks, but think I may have relied on them to the point parts of me got forgotten, or left by the wayside. Spending my remaining years gathering myself together, discarding the bits of flotsam no longer needed. Rediscovering possibilities...

5:11PM PDT on Oct 26, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:38AM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

I can see through your masks

11:41AM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

We assume a false identity due to pressures from friends, school, parents, and our judgmental society which stresses conformity. We want to be accepted, so we pretend we are something else rather than who we truly are. Many alliances, friendships, marriages, partnerships disintegrate when we reveal our true selves. Other people want us to be like them to reinforce their confidence that they are the ideal person. America leads the world in the phony contest, we have been considered to be the most superficial, naive, and shallow people in the world. I am an American by birth.

4:23AM PDT on Oct 19, 2013

Some wear masks of many... some wear not any...many slick and tricky are as shifty as a politician. We all wear hats of many, but as for me; a mask is not as pretty as the real me.

12:37PM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

I wonder what it says about me that I hate costume parties and masks? The people I knew who were so into them I had a hard time relating with. Hmmmm. I need to do the exercise I think, and see what comes out. You're never too old to learn something new about and improve yourself. Being authentic is the only way to go, so peel back those layers LOL!

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