As we get ready for Halloween tonight, it is a funny thing to think about all the masks we wear, and why we chose the ones we do. I started thinking about the costumes we will wear tonight and how they will make us feel. Just think about the different masks we wear everyday; the variety of personas we take on in our lives for work, entertainment, in our relationships, even with ourselves. It is a natural thing to don masks.
‘The persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is.”
~ Carl Jung
The persona is like our “psychological clothing.” The aspect of the ego that we present to the world for its approval. It is like a mask and we can hide behind it.The word “persona” comes from the Greek word for the large masks that early Greek actors would use to portray their characters. With audiences in the big Greek amphitheater the nuances of performances could easily be lost. The primary function of the mask was not to hide the actor but give information about the character. The persona is the mask or role that a person plays in society. While it gives information it can be used to hide the ego.
“Anger is nothing but fear with a mask. Sadness is fear with a mask. Jealousy is fear with a mask.”
~ Miguel Ruiz
As a social role the concept of the persona is useful in allowing an individual to move in and out of relationships without being too vulnerable. A persona provides for some predictability of relationship. For example, the personas of doctor and patient or of student and teacher can be useful in knowing what to do, when, and where. Other examples of the persona are: mother, father, husband, wife, lawyer, judge, policeman, baker. A persona becomes a problem only when a person becomes too attached to it and can not put it aside. For example, when someone who is a judge is a “judge” all the time at work and at home. Or perhaps, a teacher who is in her role all the time.
When a person cannot move flexibly between roles, then the persona not only hides the person from others but also from himself. It is difficult for such a person to have appropriate self-knowledge.
~ Dr. Dan Johnson
An overemphasis on the persona not only keeps us from knowing our true selves but also blocks communication that builds beautiful relationships between people.
Maybe we need to move away from our fears and focus on being ourselves in each moment – let’s see how that works for us!