With Carnivale season upon us, one can be forgiven in thinking about masks and the masks we wear.
Carl Jung (1928) wrote about the personas or masks we adopt and present to the world as a way to make a definite impression on others and to conceal other parts of ourselves. He argued that these are social creations we develop, (we believe) in order to be accepted by others.
The masks of Venice were a creative way to break free from one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history. Wearing them brought the prospect of equal footing. No one could be identified, assessed and judged so people felt more free to express what they normally wouldn’t.
We wear our masks, selecting behaviours according to the desired impression we want to create when interacting with others. They can shield us from harm and liberate us, provide assurance against vulnerability and help us project an external image which we believe is more alluring, acceptable, appropriate for the setting we are in.
Yet they can also imprison us, making us feel more isolated from others...and ourselves. Relying on them or attaching ourselves to their power, can backfire... because inevitably they prevent us from connecting at a deeper level, having real and meaningful conversations and relationships, and preventing our essence to shine and for true transformation to take place.
We can start by becoming aware of the choices we make about - why and how we are wearing our masks. And bit by bit with courage to disclose what we are truly thinking and feeling, to reveal our concerns, fears, dreams, needs ...and the openness to seek and hear feedback we can gently rid ourselves of them, and expose our real selves.
From what I understand in Venice theatre, “gli innamorati” (lovers/those in love) where the ones that never wore masks...true love as it is being naked, bare, vulnerable, open...
Penelope Mavor is a Senior Consultant at Impact Italia