Interacting in a world of masks has been an insightful experience for me. Without visual clues as to the emotional state of those around me, the world seems somehow flatter and colder.

While shopping at Whole Foods today, I realized that in many ways I’ve always worn a mask, shielding my authentic self from the outside world.

In fact, wearing masks of self protection seems to be part of the human condition. They protect us from the fear that our inner pain might be exposed to the outside world.

Sometimes we put on a mask because others expect it of us. Like the checkout clerk who is having a bad day but is forced to wear a happy mask. Why is our culture so allergic to healthy emotional expression, forcing others to dehumanize themselves for our comfort?

Sometimes, we project our most painful masks onto others. Instead of expressing those dark and difficult emotions like feeling “weak” or “unimportant”, we put the masks on those in our lives who will wear them for us. We feel weak inside, so we make our loved ones feel weak. It’s a subtle and terrible thing we humans do to one another.

Most of us aren’t even aware that we wear masks. It’s one of the most difficult personal growth tasks you can sign up for, finding and removing these layers of protection. Exposing your authentic soul to the outside world.

All my life I’ve been wearing masks like this. One such mask protected me from my fear of abandonment. Calcified with age, it caused me to form relationships that were not healthy for me, abandon my own needs in favor of pleasing others, and be dishonest with myself and those that I love – all to avoid a fear that I wasn’t willing to face or share.

I don’t want to wear these masks anymore. I’m ready for a life of greater authenticity and deeper connection.

As the world starts opening up again and we stop wearing our covid masks in public – what of these inner masks will you remove as well, to emerge a more aligned and authentic you?