Let me ask you something. How many metaphorical masks do you wear for other people? Do you take them off at the end of the day? Because if you’re choosing to wear these “masks”, that’s one thing. If you don’t realise we’re wearing them, that’s an issue. It confuses the brain & nervous system in a harmful way. Let me explain.
Our operating system (the subconscious mind, inner child, nervous system, whatever you want to call it) sees us as we really are. This means that if we’re trying to be somebody else, a lot of precious energy is spent deciphering how we’re trying to feel, versus how we actually feel. This process happens subconsciously.
It’s hard to be rejected by other people, it feels really yucky. Imagine how our Inner Self feels every day, when we go around trying to be what we think everyone else wants us to be. Of course we do this sort of thing for good reasons. As human we have an instinct to try to fit in. It’s a survival mechanism. But there’s a difference between surviving and thriving.
That’s what I love most about the LGBTQ+ communities and the Indigenous communities. I’m not a member of either of these communities, I can only bear witness to the journeys of other people. I have however spent a lot of energy over the years doing my best to not be myself, so I’m grateful for what these amazing groups have taught me.
The thing is, we can only pretend that we’re someone we’re not for so long, until eventually we need medication. Then that works for a while, until the ‘True Self’ starts to eventually leak out, or in some cases erupting out. By then, our Inner Self is so angry, sad, and confused, that we’re often destructive in some way. In addition, a big part of us lacks maturity because it didn’t get a chance to grow & develop.
An example of this happening on a small scale is when a child must go through a few years of scary or traumatic times, either having to tow the line or stay in line for the well-being of themselves and their loved ones. When life’s back to normal, it’s ideal if the child’s parent can get the child to a therapist, so that together they can help the child catch up on the development they missed out on during the challenging period if their life.
If an adult feels they must hide a fundamental aspect of themselves for years and years, imagine the kind of healing that’s going to take. Remember that there’s an inner child in all of us. Imagine the toll that takes on the physical body, the mind, the nervous system, and the emotions.
It doesn’t take long to convince ourselves of the lies we’re telling others about ourselves. A friend of mine once said, shortly after coming out, “I didn’t know I was gay. I wish somebody would have told me, since everyone seems to be saying that they knew all along”. This fellow had embarked on his journey back to his ‘True Self’. I hope he was supported by his loved ones because this type of journey is really scary.
It’s a disgusting, shameful, confused feeling. We ask ourselves, “What have I done to myself?” “ What have others have done to me?” We feel angry. Then we feel shame for being so angry. We also feel shame because we see that the Inner Self is very angry at us. We see that our Inner Self is hurt deeply, and it’s because of the choices we’ve made. Just because we had to make choices to keep ourselves safe doesn’t mean the Inner Self wasn’t being damaged by those choices.
Once we’re through that terrible part of the journey back to the True Self, we start to feel free, and we can start to feel joy again. We can start to express ourselves in different ways. It’s awkward at first and we go through stages of self expression. We’ll test the waters with the people around us, pushing the envelope bit by bit. We then start to visit places we wouldn’t normally visit. We start meeting different people. Our friend group changes, we lose some friendships and we gain some friendships.
At some point we might realize that our workplace is an unhealthy place for the real us, and a job change may need to happen as we outgrow our current workplace. Or, we may find that we’re more successful in our work, and we may start receiving promotions.
The thing is, the ‘True Self’ is quite a bit larger than the ‘Masked Self’. In the ‘Masked Self’, we shrink ourselves down to fit inside a societal construct, whatever that construct may be. There’s loads of constructs, and loads of narratives. As we step away from that ‘Masked Self’ and step back into our own shoes (which we’ll probably change as well), we start to feel like the old life we were living is too small for us. Or perhaps it’s too fancy for us, or perhaps not fancy enough. Perhaps it’s too complicated and we decide to step into something less complicated. Or, perhaps we leave the simple life and step into a more complex way of living. Whatever way we end up growing, if we’re making our way back to our ‘True Self’, life inevitably becomes more multi-dimensional and more fulfilling.
Let me be clear, challenges don’t go away. Old challenges disappear to make way for new challenges.
As a white settler of Irish, French, and British ancestry, my people have been colonized for centuries. This means that I was born into a society of people who potentially don’t have a clue who they actually are. Most of us look to the movies, the news, and the churches. We look to the “cool” people in the community who seem to be playing their strict societal roles well.
If a community of people are not able to live according to their ‘True Selves’, eventually, sheep start leading sheep. The community eventually winds up being a society of confused materialistic self-absorbed people who are really good at gaining material wealth. Over time, the emotional and spiritual void that resides within the people gets littered with more & more stuff, land, and entertainment (distraction). We genuinely feel that we’re in a state of lacking, which leads to highly materialistic “never enough” behaviour. In other words, greed. The feeling of lack is real, but it’s emotional and spiritual lack. In our confused state, we keep gathering more & more stuff. More & more land. A society becomes an empire, and an empire works to conquer the material world. It learns exactly how it needs to raise its people so that the empire may continue to gain more. It’s a monster with its own set of values and priorities, which it imposes onto its people. Belief systems creep into the collective unconscious of people, as we become more & more vulnerable. To compensate for the vulnerability, we gather more stuff and land.
Why are the people vulnerable? Because the further we get from our ‘True Selves’, the weaker we are. Being in a state of ‘True Self’ is the strongest state we can be in. We don’t have to worry about superstitious things, things that go bump in the night, the opinions of others, the verbal insults of others, etc. We’re larger and more powerful than all of that. That stuff doesn’t bother us, and we’re busy doing other things.
Therefore, it makes complete sense to me when I learned about Two Spirited people. They play an important sacred role in Onkwehon:we life. Those of us who are a little extra different, who struggle more with fitting into societal constructs, those are the ones who are most capable of de-hypnotizing themselves. They’re a bit more driven to speak up about all the spells we’re under as colonized people. They’re more likely to notice that Mother Nature is being her ‘True Self’, and to learn from her how to properly be their ‘True Selves’. This is truly a sacred life path.
In colonial society it’s always been the different ones that have fought back against colonial oppression. They help break the spells that the rest of us are under, the spells that cause us to be jealous, competitive, greedy, and destructive. I’m grateful for the communities of people who insist on living as their True Selves. This month, I’m celebrating big time. Thanks for helping me break some of the spells I was under. Thanks for setting a great example for me.
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