Masks have been part of human culture for centuries, worn for protection, for ceremonies and rituals, in theater, to celebrate and to instill fear – representing so many parts of us across the world and through the ages! What are some masks that come to your mind – maybe the Phantom of the Opera, Japanese Noh … Hannibal Lecter?

What about the masks you CAN’T see?

What are the masks we all wear and, when we do, what are we hiding? These are the questions I’m exploring with transformational coach Cat Williford, my favorite authenticity guru and guest on the Little White Lie Digital Network Show. You can watch the entire interview right here.

Coming from the world of theater and acting, the visual concept of masks came to Cat naturally. Historically, she says, we know thespians literally wore masks. An example is Greek theater where men wore them to play both the male and female roles. Metaphorically, Cat tells us that masks “are what we show to the world rather than who we are. Those rules we’re living by aren’t ours… Our psyches have developed masks to protect us”. Cat assures us that wearing masks isn’t a bad or wrong thing, “it’s just a problem when we forget to take them off.”

How do we identify our masks?

Cat suggests the best way to uncover them and identify where they’re coming from is to look at our life’s timeline. There’s a lot of information to be found in looking back at our lives and some patterns or threads we might pick up. “For me, my biggest one has been the ‘Chief Operating Officer of Control!’ She loves to take charge, take over this, that, and the other thing”. This is not always a bad thing for Cat, but when she took a step back and looked at her timeline, she began to wonder what she was protecting by wanting to be in control all the time.

That definitely resonated with me! I wear the CEO of Control mask too, to the point where I do all the driving in my household because I’m uncomfortable sitting in the passenger seat. I need to drive myself. For me it is a matter of feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin in when I’m not feeling in control of a situation.

I ask Cat what she suggests to help people start identifying their masks – and what do they do once they have?

Cat points out that masks might be different things for different people: “It might be something like the ‘Over-Giver/Pleaser’ (We had quite a few listeners who related to that one!). Or we might be wearing a mask I call ‘Smartypants.’ She’s like, ‘I’m going to be the smartest one in the room. I’m going to prove it to everybody. I’m going to keep raising my hand!’ There are all kinds of masks that we wear out there.”

The key to taking your mask off is to identify what it is hiding, what your psyche is protecting you from.

Cat has found that masks are covering three things, typically originating from our past stories:

  • Our pain – we want to hide our pain. Sometimes we don’t even want to feel it ourselves, so we certainly don’t want other people to see it.
  • Our fear – we fear being out of control, so we try to control.
  • Our vulnerability – we hide our fragility, afraid we might break or get hurt.

Here is Cat’s message to us, which really inspires me and I hope it inspires you too: “You deserve to live free and at choice. I lived for so long under the tyranny of my mask of control. I was joyless for so long, but no one would have known it. What that did was set up an internal naysayer called the ‘Fraud Police’. I was scared to death that as soon as I became me, the Fraud Police were going to come and haul me to jail.”

The thing is that our masks can be really big comfort zones.

“I’m really comfortable being the Chief Operating Officer of Control. She knows how to get stuff done, but she also is very lonely, and doesn’t let other people help her, or think she can ask for or receive help. This is a big-time problem when you’re a business owner. You’ve got to work with a team.”

So, you can stay comfortable, wearing your particular mask and continuing to live an inauthentic you – waiting for the Fraud Police like Cat did. However, as she often warns her clients, “Your comfort zones can kill you. But being uncomfortable will not.” Wow! Cat acknowledges it “can feel risky and scary when you first start to allow that authenticity to roll forward”. But, she so passionately says, “You deserve it! We all deserve it!”

You can follow Cat here:

FB & LI: Cat Williford
FB Page: @TheSisterhoodCircleAdvantage
Twitter: @CatWilliford

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