Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sessions with Sue 2

Yesterday we talked about a lot of things, but one very important topic did emerge from our conversation. This was the topic of masks.

On Thursday I went to ACIV's last meeting for the semester, and the guest speaker was a hilarious and intelligent young black Texan named Sean. Speaking from the theme of "faking it", he discussed 3 main masks that people hide behind on a daily basis.

People use the "Fine Mask" when something is wrong or has changed, but they don't want to acknowledge it. (Consider the daily American conversation: "Hi, how are you?" "I'm fine, how are you?" "I'm fine".) These people are isolated and do not allow themselves to be honest with others. This is me. On the other hand, perhaps people do acknowledge something's wrong, but don't know how to fix it. They might employ the "New Mask", going from one new thing to the next new thing, trying to fill their emptiness (Consider friend-hopping, mate-hopping, trend-hopping, always coming up with a new hobby or career, going to conference after conference, reading every self-help book under the sun. This list isn't exhaustive). These people often feel empty or like a lost cause, because nothing seems to be working. People are also known to use a "Good Mask", by which they try to demonstrate that they are good people or are better than others. (Consider attending church, having morals). These people often judge others based on what they personally choose not to do. I am ashamed to say that this is also me.
 At the end of his message, Sean passed out green paper masks to each of us in attendance. He told us to prayerfully reflect on what our individual masks were and then write them down on the green ones in front of us. I was too embarrassed to write mine down, so I took my notes form Sean's message and the green paper mask to my appointment with Sue yesterday, and she had me do the exercise then. I found that my main masks are:
  • Outward positivity/being positive for others
  • Composure
  • Good grades/achievement
  • Being okay with everything and everybody
I rely on these in order to protect myself and maintain a distance between myself and others. Sue explained to me that neither my masks nor my motivations for employing them are inherently damaging or dangerous. The all have good and bad to them. The issue for me is that I let the dark sides of them control my life in such a way that I tend to hide from people and be dishonest with them and myself.

So yeah, that's where I am right now. Sue had mentioned me developing a personal wellness plan, and to start she wants me to write a journal everyday about how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking about my behavior, particularly in regard to ways that I estrange myself from others. We'll see how this goes.

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