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.
We need the mask of ego to stay on as otherwise, we fear we might be:
- Lost in past trauma, emotional pain, and negative experiences
- Forced to face our difficult emotions
- Have low self-esteem, self-confidence, and low sense of self-worth
- Incapable of navigating through life
- Unable to be likable and acceptable by others
- Incapable of maintaining our relationships
- Unable to maintain our careers
- Isolated, depressed and embarrassed
There are many other reasons why we choose to wear the mask of ego whether consciously or unconsciously. However, it is crucial that we drop our ego if we wish to liberate our true selves and attain spiritual growth.
Ego is an obstacle to spiritual development
“The wearing of this mask is a pseudo-automatic response,” explains The Self. It further explains “The mask is a filter that keeps out everything that doesn’t encourage the ego’s needs and wants. Thus the filter keeps out truth and reality – and God. It keeps out God – Divine Consciousness, Spirit, Source or whatever word you prefer.” As our ego prefers to be in charge and feel superior to our true self, it desperately tries to convince us that we need this mask to stay on. But it can also affect our spiritual growth.
The mask of ego prevents us from exploring our truest selves and embarking on a spiritual journey by hiding:
- Inner peace
- Unconditional love
- True happiness
- God of the universe or the divine source
- Emotional freedom
- Meaningful relationships
- Purpose of life
“All ego does is edge out our greatness,” explains executive leadership coach and bestselling author Lolly Daskal. She adds “The language of ego creates fear and judgment. It pushes you in the direction of making other people wrong, even though you know that self is about inclusiveness. Ego can even separate you from yourself with damaging thoughts like I am not good enough or I am not deserving.”
The only way we can overcome the shackles of the ego and find our way towards spiritual growth and freedom is by learning to unmask the ego and manage it effectively. Daskal writes “To manage our ego we must understand it intellectually, behaviorally, and emotionally.”
Discovering our true self
“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” – Eckhart Tolle
“When we start to become more in tune with our true self, which is the part of us that OBSERVES the ego, not the ego itself, we realize that a state of peace lies within us,” explains Nikki Sapp. She adds “This peace transcends all concepts & ideas of who we think we should be.” As we explore and understand our true self more, we begin to realize that what we believed us to be was simply based on an illusion created by our ego.
Luminita Daniela Saviuc, blogger and creative lead of product development at Mindvalley, says “There is a big difference between your authentic self and your ego, the false self.” she believes that “when you are true to yourself and when you live life from an authentic place, you can’t help but be happy, cheerful, content and loving at all times.”
When you begin to exist within the realm of your true self, you can tune into peace, tranquility and happiness that was not available to you in the dimension of the false self. As you start taking off the mask of ego, you can feel all the stress and anxiety fading away. Although it may be a bit scary and difficult to unmask your ego initially, eventually it will be more than worth it. You will feel what life is supposed to feel like by understanding who you are truly meant to be. Not playing a role or following a script. But following your heart and being your most genuine self.
“Self is what will emerge if we allow it to. And allowing it to means simply to drop the mask and just be,” explains The Self.