The Mask of Kindness
Play nice with others.
Think before you speak.
We all remember hearing these statements as children, and some of us may even still hear them as adults. So, we split the last piece of cake, or we allow someone to step in line ahead of our loaded cart at the grocery. That’s being nice, showing kindness. But there’s a dark side that no one addresses. A side I watch showing up in people under thirty five over and over again. I call it the mask of kindness.
Someone wearing the mask of kindness puts on a smile, holds their head up high, and helps the proverbial senior across the street. But inside that kind act is done out of guilt, shame, self loathing, and fear of rejection. Or someone offers to help on the spur of the moment because it’s “the right thing”, but escapes as quickly as possible, then emotionally batters themselves for “being too nice” while chastising themselves for “being a jerk”. I watched it happen not too long ago.
This mask of kindness addresses everyone’s emotional needs except the wearer’s. Sometimes the wearers are easy to spot. She’s the mom staying up til midnight cleaning up after a spouse and two teenage kids while muttering how much she does, how little she’s respected, how she’s so tired she might as well lay down and die.
Sometimes the wearers are harder to spot. She’s the beautiful, talented, single woman who has it all together. She volunteers, teaches Sunday School, organizes blood drives, and feels that she’ll never measure up. She tells herself she’s a complete fraud, that if people really knew her no one would even speak to her. But when pressed, she can’t tell you anything other than she’s wearing a mask.
He’s the guy that drives everyone home, is taken advantage of by people but doesn’t complain, or feels guilty when everyone around him isn’t happy. He blames himself for that unhappiness, even though he has nothing to do with the problem. He’s the guy that says “I don’t know what love means”.
Sounds like real head cases right? Not really. You see, the mask of kindness is the cruelest thing we can put on our souls. It robs of our dreams, our joy, our confidence and a sense of self. It manifests as people pleasing, self deprecation, anxiety, and playing the martyr. But, it’s not the end of the world, just a bad habit of putting yourself on the back burner and never really seasoning the flavor of your heart.
How do we change? How do we drop the mask, get beyond fear, and start living as our authentic self? By showing Loving Kindness to ourselves so we can show it others in an authentic way. That’s what we’ll be exploring each Monday.
Until next week –
Play nice with yourself.
Think before you speak to yourself.
Share with yourself.
Be kind to yourself.
In all you do, craft no harm,