I started making masks to free myself from an old story.
This story was programmed into my brain as a child. It is a story about powerlessness and fear and I kept on telling myself this story, even though I never wanted to. It’s taken a lot of dedication and discipline to untangle myself from the web of this narrative, but I was able to do so when I realized that the joy and beauty I was born with could be mine once again when I let go of this old myth.
Using an Ancient Mexican tool, I sat in front of a mirror wearing a mask and I told this old story from the very beginning to its most recent end – over and over again until it no longer felt true or real. After months of doing this off and on, I took off my mask one day and the thoughts, feelings, events, and people from my past no longer colored my present, and I was able to finally dream a new dream.
You came into this world happy and free of stories – no opinions, no fears, no expectations, and no judgments. But shortly thereafter, narratives dreamed up in the minds of others were soon forced upon you, and more often than not, these stories – ideas, beliefs, opinions, and perspectives – were an affront to the peace you came here with.
You continued to fall into the fog of illusion based on what these stories told you about yourself and about life. And in time, you learned how to pass these stories on to others without even realizing it.
All around you, people – siblings, friends, and teachers, then religious leaders, institutions and governments – lived out their personal narratives of fear and control, and as soon as they could, they downloaded theirs straight into your brain. Like a sponge, you soaked up whatever was being offered to you – all of the standards and external expectations that needed to be met in order for you to belong.
Your mind didn’t have the ability to filter out lies or misinformation. You absorbed everything – the love, anger, criticism, beliefs, and all the energy swirling around you. And it was directly or indirectly impressed upon you that if you wanted to fit in, you had to be and act a certain way, for if you didn’t, you would be rejected and/or exiled from other people’s love and acceptance.
We are all domesticated like puppies – there’s no way around that – but most are domesticated through fear while a select few of us are lucky enough to be tamed by love.
Those bred by fear are done so through punishment and reward. The punishment is rejection and the reward is acceptance all handed down by judgment. As a child, rejection from one’s family feels like a death sentence because what child can survive without them? Therefore you compromise yourself and your natural-born right to create your own life by doing anything to be good, to be right, and to belong.
In time, the judgments that your family or caregivers have about you become internalized and are projected outward onto everyone and ultimately onto God. And long after you have left childhood, an inner judge keeps those beliefs and ideas you adopted firmly in place. It speaks to you, telling you what other people think of you, and what you should be doing to receive approval and acceptance from others.
This is what it means to live the story of others, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone not doing so.
Some are strong enough to fight for their right to be themselves, but most of us have conformed in some way, abandoning who we truly are and rejecting the parts of ourselves that others have deemed unacceptable. The good news is that the lies that were put into your mind by others is possible to clean out and remove. It is not easy feat, however, to unlearn an old story – especially when you know it so, so well. It requires you to surrender attachment to what you think you know and what you believe – which is scary but not dangerous.
When surrender is complete, you can create a new dream and become the author of a new myth – one where there are no rules you must follow, no belief systems you are required to embrace, and no leaders to obey, just the basic tenet to always seek freedom from fear, and to surrender to love and self-acceptance.