The mask of ego prevents us from being our true selves by trapping us in a “false self”.
“If you wear a mask long enough, you begin to forget who you are beneath it” ~ Unknown
Ego consumes everyone
We all have an idea of who we are. But it’s often our ego that defines our identity rather than our true self. You can mistake your ego as your personality or you may call it image, conditioning, outer persona, mind-identified state or even false identity. Irrespective of what you may call it, this is the “false self” that makes us believe that we are what we think we are. But that is rarely the truth. Ego gives us a false sense of self that makes us believe that we are hard working, kind, virtuous and successful.
Although that may be true in parts, when we become attached to this false sense of self we try to live our lives as this “version” of ourselves, unconsciously trapping ourselves in the prison of ego. This mask of ego that we wear makes us persuade others that we are in fact the person our ego makes us believe we are. And the problem with that is we become unable to be our genuine selves.
Author Nikki Sapp explains “The ego is based in concepts, in belief systems, in the “idea of”, not on anything real or tangible. It quite literally depends on our belief in it for its survival.”
Read also: Ego, Enlightenment, And Pain
The mask of ego
Almost all of us wear this unconscious mask everyday as we interact with ourselves and with the world. We allow this mask to define who we are and we identify with this false self so much that we mistakenly believe that is who we are. When this mask is effectively personified in front of our family and friends, we feel validated, confident and happy. Being validated and approved is what makes the mask of ego strong, powerful and well-fitted. “The mask also loves plotting, planning and scheming, and so it is constantly seeking and striving for something, whatever this may be,” explains an article in The Self.
But the mask of ego only makes us play a false role. It provides us a predetermined role and a script that we follow strictly to feel and appear valuable and successful. It gives us a false sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Leadership coach and author Cindy Wigglesworth writes “These false masks are by their nature unrealistic. We can’t live up to them. This can leave us feeling like fakes. We become terrified of being ‘found out.’ So we do even more to look like the perfect mom/boss/whatever.”
However, the false self that originates due to the mask of ego can often result in stress, anxiety, depression, fear, anger and other negative emotions. It can augment our insecurities and damage our relationships. It deprives us and the world of what our true self could achieve.
Why can’t we take off the mask of ego?
The mask of ego allows us to navigate through the challenges of life with more confidence. It enables us to protect ourselves from probable emotional pain and suffering. “We believe that wearing this identity will allow us to navigate the world more easily – even though it may not be fully authentic,” explains transformational leader Rev. Dr. Devaa Haley Mitchell. She adds “So you wear an Ego Mask for a greater sense of identity, security, and importance – or to protect yourself from the pain of the past.”
Taking off the mask of ego would lead us to feeling increasingly frightened, out of control, needy, uncertain, and isolated. Once we have stripped off the false self, we will be left alone to face ourselves and all our emotions that we have avoided till now. And that can be a scary thought for most of us. So we allow ourselves to keep the mask on even though we may become aware of the false confidence it provides. Taking off the mask will be excessively painful and uncomfortable and may even open up old emotional wounds.