The Bridge Program: Burlington High School
As we move into quarter 3, our students will now be working towards understanding autonomy. In other words, a sense of one’s own identity and an ability to act independently and exert some control over one’s environment.
“Our lives only improve when we are willing to take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” ~Walter Anderson
Almost any emotion or behavior can be used as a mask. Putting on a mask is a way of being invisible. In order to prevent our true inner self from being seen, we wear a symbolic mask over our authentic personality in the hope that we will remain hidden. Maybe you mask insecurity by disliking others or mask sadness by being the life of the party or mask fear by being a joker/class clown (Hall, 2012). These masks can provide some emotional protection, short term, but the costs of consistently wearing masks are high. When wearing a masks, you do not truly feel a sense of belonging, because you are not being true to yourself. One of the most basic needs people have is to feel a connection with others. This can't happen when you are hidden behind a mask.
This week in Bridge, we discussed the importance of understanding our internal masks versus our external masks; our internal masks being what our personality is really like, who we really are, and how we act when we feel the most comfortable (fun, lots to say, quiet, goofy, etc.), while our external mask is the image we try to portray to others each day (happy, calm, brave, etc.). The following "masks" were derived from Karen Hall's article, "Wearing Masks" (2012) in the journal, Psych Central, and discussed this week during modules:
Functional Mask: A functional mask is one everyone needs. This is the one you wear at work or school when you need to look ready for the day's challenges. A functional mask is used at the most necessary times, such as hiding your true nerves before a presentation. With this mask, you are temporarily shielding your true feelings from others.
People Pleaser Mask: The people pleaser mask is used to do whatever it takes to make others happy so they'll accept you and be less likely to hurt you, emotionally. When you have thoughts or feelings that are unique to those of your peers, you ignore these thoughts, nod, and go along with what others are saying, just to avoid being "different." We discussed with the students that this mask is common in high school when trying to establish connections with peers. It is important to know that you can wear the people pleaser mask so often that you lose yourself and who you truly are.
Happy Mask: A way to protect yourself is to act as if your are happy all of the time. Happiness covers our true feelings, but how are others going to know when your feelings are hurt?
Angry Mask: Another way of protecting yourself is to wear a mask of anger. Anger can keep people away from you and protect you from feeling vulnerable (Hall, 2012). Anger can feel more powerful than sadness or fear, and can be used to avoid those feelings and cover up that sensitivity.
What mask are you wearing?