MASKS : Are You Wearing One?

Authenticity and transparency are buzzwords in the Coaching Industry, Corporate America, and Political culture. And, there is no doubt there is tremendous value in honing the skill of showing up "real".  But- it's not always that easy.

As human beings we learn at a very young age how to morph into what ever will serve us, protect us, give us more attention, make us more seen or less, make us more likable, lovable, valuable, cool, smart, attractive, acceptable, and enough. We are trained in our formative years to work at “fitting in”. This is when we begin to build our repertoire of personalized masks. Growing up I had slew of them. I had the giggle mask, happy mask, fearless mask, capable mask. As I grew older I added the apology mask, daring mask, I got it all handled mask (a step up from the capable mask).  I had a plethora of masks to choose from and they served me well, until they didn’t. I found myself feeling hollowed out, insignificant, which of course motivated me to create more masks, until my life hit a wall and I was smacked down by my own in-authenticity. My non-transparent, co-dependent nature had created so much exhaustion, and such a deep profound loneliness, that I was breaking out in hives and becoming physically ill. My marriage was the mask of all masks and I was suffocating under it, my Being was dying a slow death. This may sound dramatic but I kid you not, it is how I felt.  I had de-selfed, detached from who I was, so much so I couldn’t remember who I was. That is what happens when we use masks to show the world what we think it wants from us, instead of Being who we are. It is no wonder that often times I will have a client show up to a coaching session with the expression, “I don’t know what I’m feeling, or how I feel about that, or what I want.” It gets tricky to identify what feelings are authentic and what is a projected feeling from what we think the world wants from us. 

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How do you choose to show up?

Are you wearing a mask or are you being transparent?

Are you using your authentic voice or saying what others want to hear…

The way to begin to identify if you are wearing a mask or being “real” is to notice if there is another conversation going on within your Self, while you are performing on the outside. Notice how you feel when the conversation is over, and what thoughts you are having about the exchange. It is that simple, it’s simply noticing where you are in your body. Are you feeling exhausted or energized is another indicator. Even a fierce conversation (Susan Scott, founder of FIERCE, can leave you feeling energized when you are authentic because you are speaking from your truth, instead of making up stuff that is in-authentic and has nothing to do with who you really are.

Ask your Self to step away from the mask, and dare to be you. Train the world to be in relationship with you, instead of the world training you to be someone else.


The capitalized words above are not an editing error.  



Adrift is my soul,
no bearings,
no steady hand from the soul’s knowing, only air

Vertigo spinning out of control,
all one can do is cling to a chair rail

Damp white knuckled nose dive,
pull up, pull up

a pocket of unknown turbulence,
let go…

No choice but to go it alone but, I have the trees and they have me.

Beautiful words won’t change a damn thing.

It is in a dark crevice where scorpion and snake rest waiting to strike,
a flood wrecked bar bloodied with mud debris, as I search for treasure

a blind reach into blackness pulling out a shot glass brimming
with murky pain

Yet, another miracle, no deadly bite.

Can there be hope in a shot glass that once held tequila,

two women saluting to one another’s good graces.

Why not, it is still here, the invisible imprint of what the space once held,
a lingering of what has been lived.

Not even the flood of halloween can erase the love shared here.

I am adrift in unknown air, clenching the shot glass, remembering

I always recover.

~Andrea Willets

For Beverly & Billy Ray, Eye of the Dog Art Center

Life's Arms

I give you to Life’s arms.

Go flap wildly, seeking the winds that will carry you, in your glorious human-mess.

I give you, my greatest lesson in loving unattached,

I give you to adventure…dark corners of unknown soul searching,

Newfound joy on stones warmed by sunlight, as the skin on your back lies across them.

My son, I give you to life.

I wish for you to receive it lustfully; be greedy and indulge, explore, saturate your bones, mind, and soul with the feel, touch, smell, taste, and sound of being a boy becoming a man.

Scream your warrior cry from a mountain peak, view a star studded sky from a canoe, feel the sacredness of a rose petal soft breast under your finger tips, taste the bounty of mother earth, relish every gift.

Open your good mind again and again, be without knowing,

and ask questions.

When you are too much in your head, MOVE and serve others.

Share everything; yourself, your possessions, life will be far richer this way.

Dance, trust your body, it holds the wisdom,

And laugh, laugh until you cry,

Cry until you find exhausted peace…it is within you.

Be delightfully surprised by others and their stories, do not assume anything.

People are most alike in the human condition; we want to belong to someone,
we fear we are not enough, we want to love and be loved.

Yet, our individual stories of how we dance with desire is unique…get curious about the stories.

And know this most importantly, I am with you as I give you to life’s arms, I am always and forever with you dear son.

The truth is you were never truly mine in the first place, no one owns another,
we were blessed to be brought together by the cosmos.

It is my deepest honor to care for you, teach you, be taught by you, and to love you.

Now go find your wind and flap wildly.

(Author: Andrea Willets)