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No one tells you how to unmask

Venetian masks with sparkled and bells displayed as in a shop, up close

Everyone masks to some extent. We mask to fit in, to seem confident, to find love or to endure the workplace. We mask to try on new lifestyles and figure out what we like. We mask to keep the people around us from being inconvenienced by the parts of us we don't think they'd accept.

But some of us have masked so much for so long that we never learned much about who we are or what we truly need. There eventually comes a time when we find it more worthwhile to know ourselves than to keep up the mask and fit in. That’s when it’s time to unmask.

But how?

I’ve been on a massive journey this year to answer exactly that question. I looked for books on how to unmask, I’m still reading memoirs and autobiographies about people who’ve gone through unmasking processes, and I’ve tried out a few different tactics to find my own way. But I realize this blatant truth too:

Looking outside of myself for pathways to unmasking is just another form of masking. The only authentic way to unmask is to start within.

If that sounds scary to you, welcome to the club. It’s terrifying. For a person who has long succeeded by pretending to be anyone other than myself, the risks feel enormous.

  • Will I cut off my trusted routes to success?

  • Will I lose parts of myself I’ve carefully cultivated for years, even decades?

  • Will I turn my life upside down?

  • Will I fail?

At first, the only way to navigate the fear was to remind myself that my so-called successes had led to trauma, burnout and meltdowns – how could living authentically possibly be worse? I found great comfort by immersing myself in my special interests, but I still woke up in a panic most nights because I had no experience trusting myself – it didn’t feel safe to start now.

As I chipped away at my masks, I could feel my anxiety rising. It could be unbearable at times, and it often stopped or slowed me from taking action where I knew I needed to act. The sensation of electricity buzzing through my marrow is still often enough to make me put back on those comfy old masks, and sometimes, it’s almost enough to make me quit the journey completely.

Thank goodness I found nervous system training.

My first taste of nervous system work came as I was learning to accept my high sensory nature this spring. I was introduced to a chiropractor who uses techniques for clearing the nervous system, and after just one session, I was hooked: I had my most productive, resource-intensive week of the year in the days that followed.

I went back for more sessions, and I soon grew an appetite to learn what she was doing. I had to know the method to her magic because it was the most powerful “medicine” I’d ever tried – and I’ve tried plenty (yoga, meditation, therapy, anxiety meds, breathwork, journaling, visualizations, cranial-sacral treatments, acupuncture, energy healing, sound healing – you name it).

Not long thereafter, a talented mindset coach suggested I look up a nervous system training program she’d heard about through a podcast. As of today, I’m nine weeks into the 12-week course. And my life is transforming at a foundational level. Folks: nervous system training works. In fact:

Nervous system training might be the only way to safely and durably unmask.

Now, I have tools and practices at my disposal to meet my anxiety head-on and prepare for it ahead of time so it can’t rule over me.

Now, when I know I need to present in an authentic way that might change how people think of me, I can quiet the self-doubt that tells me to pretend to be someone I’m not.

Now, when I go out, I worry more about feeling comfortable than looking incredible.

Now, when I strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know well, I ask what I really want to ask instead of sticking to the surface-level script I’ve relied on for years. And people lean in! Turns out, people want more of these authentic encounters. Those surface-level scripts might have worked pre-pandemic, but we’re in a new world now, and in this world, you’re expected to show up as who you really are, even if who you really are is not quite what people expect.

Without tools to quiet my protective nervous system, I’d be a mess of debilitating anxiety. But with those tools, I see a whole different version of my future – one that was never possible from behind the safety of my masks.


Ready to build the nervous system resilience you need to live with fewer masks? Message me below to get the October discount code for any of my service offerings.

Mark your calendar for November 10 and join my FREE WORKSHOP on how to prepare your nervous system for the holiday season. Details coming soon, so subscribe to my email list so you don't miss it.

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