“The persona is the mask we wear in relation to the world and others. It is created through a combination of socialization, societal expectations, one’s experience of the world, and the natural attributes and tendencies of the individual. It combines elements of how we want to see ourselves, ideally, and how we want the world to see us, as well as how the world does see us and wants us to be. Our persona defines our social identity; it is constructed in relation to the roles we play in our lives and in our world, how we want to look and be seen. It is the face we wear to be presentable and acceptable to our society. It is not necessarily who we really are, but who we want and pretend to be to others and, many times, to ourselves.”
Often our truth lies hidden beneath a self-imposed exile because it doesn’t fit the ego-self’s image. Recognize your own truth and stop lying to yourself. Many tell themselves that something is okay when it actually is not. Sometimes we even try to enroll others in our self-deception by trying to convince them of our veracity or to even enroll them in the lie by taking it on for themselves. Children often tell themselves the lie that they are loved by a parent when in their heart that for whatever reason they do not feel loved. Both women and men not in relationship sometimes try to convince themselves that they are just fine without one. Not that they aren’t right but some take on the lie that they are when in fact they are not. It is most likely fear that keeps these lies in place and in so doing lock the experience of love away in the cellars of their minds.
“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed” –Carl Jung
The inner lie is a coping skill often told so that we can fit into what the society expects of us or what we expect of ourselves and in the short run can be reasonably effective. The lie helps to create our outward and inner persona designed to meet the expectations of families and cultural norms.
However, self-deception has a limited shelf life. How do we know that? Ever notice how past hurts or fears, angers or things we try to avoid keep reappearing? What’s that about? The psyche never forgets. We may shove certain events, memories, or feelings onto the back burners of our mind and develop a presentation that looks good to ourselves and others so as to be accepted and cope with the present so as to move forward in our lives but these undealt with experiences don’t just disappear. Out of sight is never out of mind. They wait in hiding like coiled snakes beneath the outcroppings of our unconscious mind until something disturbs them and they strike out blindly and wreak havoc once again with our emotions and once again poisoning the moment and our sense of well-being.
These demons or shadows of our unconscious selves do not ever disappear but gain energy in the darkness. This energy is often projected outward onto others politically, religiously and through our prejudices of others. It’s only when we confront them and bring them into the light, acknowledge that they are a part of who we are, and that we can own them rather than project them and work with them to negotiate a peace and compromise that we can then become whole once again and be the “captains of our soul”.
“Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning’s of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
Invictus–William Ernest Henley