We use the term ‘personality’ frequently but what does it actually mean?
Personality is not easily defined. There are numerous personality theories and as many definitions of ‘personality’, so we’ll stick to the simple. We could define personality as the behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a person.
The word “person” comes from the Latin word “persona,” which means a mask. We do indeed from time to time project and display different ‘personas’ – depending on situations, relationships, moods, etc. We present many selves
– the self that we would like others to think we are,
– the self we actually think we are,
– the self we are afraid we are, and then, of course,
– the core essence that we really are – the Real Me, The Real You.
Here are a few exercises you can try to answer the question – Is my personality a mask or does it reflect the Real Me?
1. An awareness exercise : Close your eyes, take few deep breaths, put your thoughts on hold. Who remains? Do you feel comfortable with this person?
2. A meditation : Read this passage from Barry Long slowly and let it speak to you.
A long, long time ago, when human beings were not so fixed in their physical bodies as they are today, there lived a man (or was it a woman?) who made for himself a marvelous mask – a mask that could pull many faces. The man used to put on the mask and entertain himself by suddenly accosting people and watching their reactions, Sometimes the mask would be laughing, sometimes crying, some times grimacing and scowling. His victims were always shocked at the sight of such an extraordinary, unnatural, unfamiliar face even when it was smiling. Whether they laughed or cried made no difference to him. All he wanted was the excitement of their reactions. He knew he was himself behind the mask. He knew he was the joker and that the joke was on them.
At first, he’d pop out with the mask on a couple of times a day. Then, as he got used to the excitement and wanted more, he began leaving the mask on all day. Finally, he saw no need to take it off at all and slept in it.
For years, the man wandered through the land enjoying himself behind the mask. Then one day he awoke, feeling a feeling he’d never felt before – he felt lonely, cut-off, something missing. Jumping up in alarm he stepped out in front of a beautiful woman and immediately he fell in love with her. But the woman screamed and ran away, shocked by the frightening, unfamiliar face. “ Stop,” he cried, “It’s not me!” wrenching at the mask wouldn’t come off. It was stuck to his flesh. It had become his face. the man, through his fabulous mask, was the first person to enter this unhappy world.
Time went by. No matter how hard he tried to tell everyone what a disaster he’d brought on himself, no one would believe him. No one was interested in listening anyway, because they’d all copied him. They’d all put on masks of their own – to get the new excitement of playing at being what they were not. Like him, they’d all become the mask.
How the man eventually put a stop to the masquerade and returned to his joyous being, is the finale of the story; for all fables must have a happy ending. However, only when you, the reader, are joyous and free of unhappiness now will the story truly come to an end. For you are the man or woman in the mask.
If you want to seriously undertake this journey towards the Real You, we urge you to record your feelings and answers. You’re welcome to write and ask questions, share your thoughts with us.