Storytelling in my opinion one of the best ways to engage with people. Some extremely complex topics can be easily communicated through the simplest of narratives. My Story time articles explore such topics through some of my favorite stories and fables.
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen – the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives. I ran mask-less through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”
Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
- Kahlil Gibran
There may be many interpretations to this story, but here is how I understand it. In order to be accepted in society, we have to wear many masks. Masks that make us a more acceptable versions of ourselves. “Losing the mask” symbolizes breaking free of the shackles of society and finding freedom. These individuals who refuse to “wear a mask” and conform to the set norms, often find themselves isolated.
Often we are afraid to be ourselves out of fear of being judged, ridiculed and isolated by others. It is impossible to fully function if we are forced to suppress our true selves. The first step to overcome this problem is to be comfortable with our own selves and face the consequences of being “mask-less”.
Self-acceptance is something that has to be nurtured. Thankfully, it is a skill that can be practiced and developed over time. As humans we tend to focus on our weaknesses. We need to celebrate our strengths and silence our inner critic that holds us back and wears us down. A balanced attitude toward self nurturing reduces the probability of depression, anxiety, and unhappy interpersonal relationships.
A good sense of self-worth enhances feelings of empowerment and confidence.