We’re all wearing masks these days. What used to be reserved for scheming bank robbers and playful trick-or-treaters, has now become a must-have in all of our daily wardrobes. Crazy times, huh?
There is a mask, however, that no one should ever wear: a personality mask.
WHAT IS A PERSONALITY MASK?
A personality mask is an external identity that you can “wear” that is different from your internal self. It’s a set of traits that are manufactured rather than organically grown, usually in response to family dynamics, social pressure, or workplace culture.
Masks become most tempting in environments where one type of personality is preferred over another.
WHERE DO MASKS COME FROM?
Let’s say your family was really involved at church growing up, and the Sunday school teachers talked most highly about girls who were soft, gentle, meek, and mild (four words, by the way, that have never described me). What type of mask would you be tempted to wear?
Or maybe you went to grad school where your professors favored the highly academic students with a bent for serious discussions and theoretical perspectives and not much else. What type of mask would you be tempted to wear then?
Or maybe you have a great job in corporate America, where your firm praises and promotes assertive managers with over-the-top ambition more often than any other type. What type of mask are you be tempted to wear now?
THE PRESSURE TO BE SYNTHETIC RATHER THAN AUTHENTIC
There is so much pressure to be someone you’re not.
The struggle to be authentic rather than synthetic is real. I’m not talking about intentionally adapting your behavior in order to do good work or extend kindness and respect to another person. No, I’m talking about drinking the Koolaid and consuming the lie that who others think you should be or could be dictates who you are.
If you’re not careful, especially as a woman with a heart to connect, your desire to be seen, heard, and valued, can cause you to suppress who you are and give in to a personality mask.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.“E. E. CUMMINGS
THE SYMPTOMS OF A PERSONALITY MASK
It’s not easy to discern if you’re wearing a personality mask. While you may think that you know who you are, it’s quite possible that you’re so familiar with your mask that you’re hiding from even yourself.
Symptoms such as restlessness, a feeling of insincerity, job dissatisfaction, or emotional and physical exhaustion can point to a personality mask. Low self-esteem, self-doubt and not liking who you see in the mirror usually signal a mask. One of the strongest indicators of a personality mask is a sense of inner conflict, trying to go in two directions at once. If you regard yourself as a mix of opposing factors: fast and slow, deep and light, or active and passive, all at the same time, I’m probably talking about you.
The most common personality mask that I see in my work as a life and career coach is the Improver/Connecter (C/I or I/C on the DISC) mask. You can take this quick quiz to determine Your Authentic Personality Type.
Improver women often mask as Connecters because Connecters are naturally social and popular-two highly valued qualities in girl world. On the other hand Connecter women, especially bright and capable ones, can mask as Improvers because they want to be seen as competent and taken seriously, acknowledgements that are rare from types that consider their qualities “less than”.
ARE YOU WEARING A PERSONALITY MASK?
The #1 method to determine if you’re wearing a personality mask is to take a personality test. If you take a DISC Personality Profile,
the results will yield three graphs, one that represents your public image, one your private image, and one that defines your stress response. If your private image is a mix of conflicting types, that would be considered a mask. If your results generate a blend of three types, you wear a mask. And if your stress response type is different than your private image, you have a mask. You can view a sample report here. Check out page 13 to see the graphs.
For a quick and dirty test which is absolutely free, check out the Your Authentic Personality Test.
After you download the test, put a check by the words that best describe you. Then tally all four boxes. Be sure to include your strengths and weaknesses in the totals. You are wearing a personality mask if 1. all four totals are fairly equal, 2. three of the four totals are close in number, or 3. your highest total and second highest total are on the diagonal.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE WEARING A MASK
The first action to take if you suspect you’re wearing a mask is to determine what type is the real you and what type is the masked you.
1. Get some honest feedback. Ask a few people that you trust to take the Your Authentic Personality Test on your behalf. If you’ve taken the DISC Personality Profile, have them complete the Action Plan on page 15 of the report. This way you can get an outside perspective on your personality. So often other people see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
2. Learn more about all four personality types. What famous people represent each type? What drains them? What do they secretly wonder is wrong with them? Then decide which resonates most deeply with you. If may have been many years since you felt the freedom to be your type.
Another option is to read What’s Your Mom Type? Discovering God’s Design for You. This book details, among other things, the strengths, weaknesses, and self-care needs of each
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.“MALCOLM FORBES
Once you identify your authentic type, immerse yourself in the beauty of that type. What are your natural strengths? What do you have to offer that is unique? What is great about being you?
For a deeper dive into your personality, especially if you’re a motivated mom, take the Discovering God’s Design for Moms digital course. This incredible audio training will show you how to leverage your authentic personality for the benefit of your family.
By committing yourself to this type of understanding, you will be more likely to love and embrace who you really are, instead of putting on a personality mask.
3. Get support. If you would like help discovering your areas of genius and aligning your life, work and business with your strengths and talents, book a complimentary call. I know how hard it is to see yourself clearly and positively because I, too, once wore my own mask. But change is possible and you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help.
“Thank you for getting me back to my sweet spot in my business. Once again, I can now do what I do best and be unapologetically me.”YOUR AUTHENTIC PERSONALITY COACHING CLIENT
As a certified behavioral consultant as well a professional life and career coach, I provide aspiring female entrepreneurs, career restarters, and life reinventors with direction that is uniquely designed for an inspiring and impactful future. Let me do the same for you.
There is a life to the full waiting for you.
All you have to do is take off your mask and start living authentically and abundantly today.