“Authenticity will make you rich!” Tony Robbins
What drives the need for elaborate masks and master performers? How many times have we heard our children respond to our inquiries about their day, or their feelings, with this robotic, conversational brick wall, “I’m fine?” (How many times have we said that to others about ourselves?)
Treatment centers are filled with children and adults insisting they are fine, if nothing else, just out of habit! Sadly, morgues are filled as well, but with the permanently silenced echo of those words … from suicides and accidental overdosing.
The truth is, we have all learned to act perfectly “fine” behind our masks! And then we broadcast that fictional “show” onto our social media.
To transform emotions; what’s REALLY Behind the Mask? Why is taking off the mask so powerful for creating a change?
That was the question I asked the psychologist Susan Jeffers on my radio show, “Triumphs of the Human Spirit.” Susan wrote Dare to Connect and Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway®. Susan’s journey into becoming a well-known personal development author, whose books have become classics, began when she found out she had breast cancer.
“When I found out I had breast cancer and had a mastectomy,” Susan said as she began the interview, “I realized I had a choice. I could say, ‘Why did this happen to me? Woe is me,’ in a negative way, to be a victim. Or I could say, ‘OK, this did happen to me, now how can I make this into something WONDERFUL?’ I took a look at myself and my life and I realized, couldn’t HELP but realize, that I was a very angry woman. Very independent, but with that came a lot of anger. I asked myself, ‘Why am I angry?’ So I picked up a mirror instead of the magnifying glass.”
“Oh, I love that phrase,” I said to Susan. “Ah, in a way, I don’t like that phrase!”
“Sure, well, we don’t like to hear it, but it is the way to our real power; which is our love and the ability to control our own lives. You see, this is why people, men, and women alike, are angry. It’s when we don’t feel in control of our own lives. And what we do, which feels safer, is to blame. And I point out, and certainly, it was true for me, that blame is such a powerless act. It puts all of the control out there somewhere.
“When I did pick up the mirror, behind the anger I saw a hurt and fearful person. And that’s what I really had to work on. And what I learned was that I was angry because anger feels better than helplessness.
“I was angry because of the actions I wasn’t taking in my own life to get what I truly wanted. I was angry because I would often sell my soul to hang on to somebody.
“And I’m sure a lot of people out there will relate to this: it gets us off the hook when we blame. But what happened when I started to really look at this was, I started to take control so that when I was angry, instead of saying, ‘What is he doing to me, or why is he doing this to me,’ it became, ‘Why am I not doing something for myself to help me feel better?’ And invariably, I always found the answer to that question is, ‘What do I need to do in my own life to create what I need?’ And it was amazing what wonderful things it did to my relationships.”
“Susan,” I asked, “you talk about the importance of group therapy, but the truth of the matter is, we all have our dirty laundry and that terrifying fear that ‘if I say this, people are just going to be so turned off to me.’ But really, what does happen when we take the risk and air out our dirty laundry?”
Susan said, “Well, first of all, we usually hear somebody else airing the same thing.”
“Just as bad?” I asked her. “Are you sure it’s just as bad, Susan?”
“Yes, and worse,” she confirmed.
“In your book, Susan, you talk about ‘a life that lacks integrity’. What do you mean by that?” I asked her.
“We’re pretending to be somebody we’re not. We lack integrity. As I became more authentic and acted from integrity, I started liking myself better. The reason I was so unhappy is that I had never found that center of myself, and I was so dependent on the outside world … my husband, my job … and I was always angry because I never felt filled up. So you blame those outside people or things. We put on our ‘masks’ because we don’t feel that we’re good enough. Therefore, if I show you who I truly am, you might not like me. Therefore, I’ll pretend to be somebody else.
“So, you have a world of master performers who really don’t know how to touch one another’s souls, which is where the real level of connection is.”
“Susan, if we were to take off our masks, and if we were to drop our act, could it be that maybe some people then won’t like who we really are?” I asked her.
“Oh, absolutely. People bring us into their lives because of our acts. So, sometimes when we change them, they obviously are not the right people for us. On the other hand, as we keep putting out who we truly are, then we seem to draw people into our life who love us for who we really are. In my first marriage, I was the obedient, good wife and tried very hard to play the role that my mother taught me. It didn’t work for me, and eventually, there was a divorce.”
“So, that’s why a lot of us get rejected a lot? Because the people in our lives came to be there for our masks?”
“Yes, so I started learning, and believe me it’s a learning process, how to become more authentic. To find out what I liked, and what I didn’t like, and to put that out there. And then I started to draw people into my life who loved that.”
“How did you get authentic?” I asked her.
“Group therapy. It’s very healing. I was so uptight when I went into the group. I really put on a mask. I was incredible. I’ll never forget the first time I went to a group called Scream Therapy. It was amazing. I was so proper, and the group leader was magical in getting me to open up into screams of rage because I was so angry all the time.
“And my beautiful hairdo went and the make-up was pouring down my face. You know, I just absolutely became real.
“When I looked around the group after I had stopped, I was amazed at what had happened to me. I realized as I looked around the group, that I had connected with other people for the first time in my life. I think I felt twenty-five pounds lighter.”
“Because you had given up the weight of that mask?” I asked.
“Yes, we walk around with the weight of the mask, or rather the role or part we’re supposed to play, and a lot of anger and pain. We’ve got to deal with that. I’ve interviewed a women’s group and it’s so nourishing to be around people who have this ability to be real. It’s beautiful.”
“So, to recap, Susan,” I summed up, “maybe if we’re feeling heavy, so to speak, we don’t necessarily need to lose weight … maybe we just need to lose our masks and all that emotional weight of the pain, resentment and the anger?”
“Absolutely,” she said. “And people will be drawn to the new, ‘lighter’ you.”
No matter how beautiful the mask we design on the outside, if we’re operating from anger and fear on the inside, the mask isn’t really covering anything up, although we would like to think so. And thus we begin our elaborate attempts at perfect costumes and more spectacular masks.
The more armor we create, the less we can authentically connect with others. Meanwhile, our truly magnificent self is hidden inside. It is the work on the inside we need to do, not the mask on the outside.
“Nancy,” my therapist said to me back then when I was resisting going into a treatment center, “the saddest thing about suicide is that people’s lives usually get worse right before the breakthrough to the other side of a better life. Unfortunately, people who commit suicide give up hope during the toughest time, whereas if they had just held on a little longer, their lives would have turned around for the better.
“It’s a cliché symbol, I know, but it is still a powerful metaphor to remember for times like this. Think of yourself as the butterfly trying to emerge and break free from the cocoon; about to complete its transformation and to fly away. Keep going.
“You feel an urge to die because something does need to die. The caterpillar and her old lifestyle, identity and story need to die. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t kill the caterpillar!”
Birthing a new life and letting go always comes with pain. But the only way out is through. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway®. Let go of the old. Keep moving forward. That’s how you transition. That’s how you earn your beautiful new wings.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Dye is a breakthrough mindset coach and resilience trainer helping people to transform the quality of their lifestyles. Nancy was trained in strategic intervention with Robbins-Madanes Training (Tony Robbins and Cloe Madanes) and has over 30 years as a weight loss, peak performance, and sober coach. She specializes in “jumping over” adversity, addictions, diseases, and transitioning through life stages.
With a career in sales and marketing, and having been coached by the top sales trainers in the corporate world, as well as by some of the most elite coaches in the world of sports, Nancy redesigns the inside lives of executives, entrepreneurs, veterans, and athletes.
Nancy is married to Jack Miles, a former Olympian gymnast who is inducted into four athletic Hall of Fames. For one-on-one coaching, or information on her “Mindset to Walk on Fire” workshop, Nancy can be reached at NancyDyeSICoach@gmail.com. www.Elitelifestyletransformations.com