Getting Beyond the Persona – the Protective Front

In my work I sometimes find myself exploring the fronts that people have developed, the shells they have built around themselves, possibly from the very beginning, the sense they have learned and developed that for their own protection things must be kept secret. There may be many reasons why someone develops a protective front, they may have found that the worlds they were born into were not naturally protective enough, and that they have to adapt themselves and develop personas to keep parts of them hidden. It can feel like If they reveal the innermost workings of their minds there will be trouble, as a consequence, and sometimes from a very early age they learn to lock these parts of themselves away in a private room of the self.

It is possible to function fairly well in the world while keeping these more sensitive sides private. In doing so we find ways to protect the vulnerable bit of self, but we lose certain access to our creativity and spontaneity. it can look like we function as though nothing is amiss, but really we are not firing on all cylinders. It can become second nature for us to live like this and over time we can lose sight of the fact that part of us is missing, that we have locked this bit of us away. We can even forget that this has happened. Our lives continue, but in this rather underpowered way, we have lost sight of the fact that there is more to us that could be joining in. In time the effects of this way of living start to show themselves. We can start to become listless, irritable and lack focus, possibly depressed, and generally become a bit unwell.

Our relationships suffer because we are just not fully alive to the people we are with. It makes us less attractive. It makes it harder for us to know what we really want. Every so often we may catch a glimpse that there is more to us than we are able to connect with, we may have dreams that suggest this, we may find ourselves enjoying things that surprise us. We may find the sudden wish to tell someone ‘this is not me! There is more to me than this!’ There is more to us than we seem to know, but how do we find a way to open up and access, and bring more of our spontaneity and creativity into our lives and relationships?

Opening up these aspects of ourselves requires patience and care. We are trying to follow a delicate thread out of the labyrinth that we have built up around us. Originally we needed it for protection, for the secure retreat it gave us, now we want to emerge from it. Our stating point is that we know there is something missing, that life could be more fulfilling, that we could be giving more to relationships and career, that we could be demanding more from life. We know that there is more to us than the mask people see.