What is real, and what is perceived? Who are we, really? Of course, that question alone is the subject matter of volumes of books and shows like Dr. Phil.

Without getting into a study of one’s inner child or directed self-discovery, none of which I am qualified to discuss, I am just talking basic roles we play and how we present ourselves to those around us.

My proposal for this purpose is that for each role we put on a mask, one we design for each. For example, we have the “dad mask” when with our children.

Then there is the spouse mask we wear interacting with our mate, and this one comes in a couple of models.

One is simply a loving mask, another is mask used to communicate  “that look,” and sometimes, we get to wear that “romantic mask” used to seduce.  Of course there is the “concealer mask,” the one used to attempt to hide stress, worry, and sometimes wrongdoing.

For those in law enforcement, there is that special mask.  The one we wear that disallows the public to really “see us.”  It is a protective mask, behind which we conceal anger, fear, opinion, personal concern, or empathy.  With time we perfect it.

Unfortunately, this mask is more difficult to change, and it has roots that are entwined in our emotions, ability to express normal compassion or empathy.  This mask, can, over time prevent the use of the ones we need to be dad or mom, friend or spouse.

You may remember the movie, The Mask, with Jim Carey.  That mask took control, causing drastic change. It was not easily removed.

The “cop mask” is certainly a defense mechanism we need, like our poker face.  It is essential when confronting a suspect, consoling a family suffering loss, or in the interrogation room.

But like the uniform, vest, gun, badge, nightstick, and taser, it is essential we remove it off duty.  If not, those roots grow strong. We become detached and hardened, and can hurt the ones we love, wounding deeply with that hard look, penetrating words, and suspicious nature that serves and protects us on the streets.

Trim the roots regularly, guard your heart daily, love your family always. When you walk through the door, put on the right mask.

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