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Sometimes people act differently according to the crowd they are with. Thus, someone who might be really outgoing with his friends might present as very shy with his co-workers. In reality, we all have different versions to ourselves and are somewhat different at home, at work, with friends and within the community. As human beings, it is natural that we adapt ourselves to the environment that we are in. This may happen consciously or unconsciously, whereby you are either making a choice to be different than your usual self or due to some reason, your behaviour changes without you even realising.

When you think of wearing a mask, this is usually done as part of a dress up costume where you want to hide your real face and possibly look like someone else too. However, besides the physical masks there are also emotional masks which a person can wear in the attempt of hiding their true personality, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, wearing a mask helps you function in your daily life and get through the days. For example, you have a colleague at work whom you cannot stand but if you had to be honest and direct about this you would have several clashes and going to work would become unbearable. Thus, you decide to wear a mask with this person and at least try to be on friendly terms with them.

Wearing a mask becomes a problem when you stop being true to yourself and end up living the life of someone you are not. This may also involve lying, in which you can get caught up and lead to undesirable consequences. Some people are afraid to show their true selves because they think that they will not be accepted by other people. Thus, they make a new persona which they think will be more likeable. The problem is that the person is not being true to themselves and living up to an unauthentic life can be very exhausting. Being yourself is very important for a healthy mental wellbeing. Of course, you can always improve but accepting yourself is the first step for others to accept you as you are.

If you realise that you tend to wear a mask to cover up your true self, remember, that you can take this off. You choose when and where to wear it. In some situations, it might protect you whilst in others it can become problematic. The moment you realise that you are losing yourself, is the moment when you need to take a step back and reflect on what is happening in your life. Ask yourself, why do you need to put that mask on; what are you trying to hide? Being able to live your truth can be more liberating than you think and therefore as they say; the truth can set you free.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.