Author: Eddie Vela
The persona is the lighter side of the Conscious Ego that is displayed in the world at large. It is the coalescence of all the qualities that are expressed and accepted by others; family; friends; peers etc. Those areas of your character that were given positive feedback when we managed to manifest them and thus, identified with to ensure you to be socially acceptable. The persona is the aspect of the ego that allows you to step into the social world, without worry and without fear. It generates a sense of belonging and the ability to give you confidence and develop further as you gain this positive feedback. It is how we identify in our social environment. It is not necessarily who we are, but it is who we want to be to others and at other times, it is who we want to be to ourselves.
There is no way getting around it, we need the persona aspect of the individual to live properly and have psychological health. But over identification of the persona can occur and can be a burden to ourselves. We get consumed by the convictions of the persona and the social identity we developed that life becomes a stroking of the mask we wear and the social groups or activities that we participate in. It begins to become so imbalance that we see no other aspect but the reputation and status of the Mask rather the Ego(individual) as a whole.
Over identification with the persona is something that happens often, more so if there is a title attached to it. A persona that bares a professional title is often very attractive to men and give too much attention to; it gives much reward and various compensations for their personal deficiencies. It is an over identification of this kind that can result in a tragedy in life. You find one individual that has the capability and the language to show you what is underneath the mask, and a man like that can break you. The realization that the persona you have been cultivating in excess by contrast with the person underneath who amounts to nothing worthwhile is a blow. That is if the individual is finally ready to abandon living in the state of denial and ready to confront him or herself. This denial of one's true self is something Nietzsche observed and called the ‘Internal mask’. We use and cultivate the internal mast in order to hide from the monsters we really are and deceive not only the world but ourselves.
The more we identify with the persona, the more we have this sense of belonging and feel content about our personality in harmony with social norms, values and expectations. But the more we deceive ourselves the deeper we repress the shadow into the Unconscious. The Brighter the mask the more darkness it tends to conceal.
Identification with the persona offer’s easy compensation and rewards in a capacity to ignore such monstrosities, darker self and unacceptable individual qualities. But nothing that is intentionally hidden away can hide forever. We experience little episodes of what we hide and the influence it has over us in subtle but sometimes in destructive ways. Everything we keep repressing is in fact only being fed, breaded and, proliferating in the unconscious, thus, will only result in an unleashing of a monster so untamed and so undisciplined, whereby, the only action the monster that has been for years knows, is destruction.
Although the shadow is made of every quality, we deem unworthy to operate and dissonant with our cultivated social identity, it is a constituent of the individual and what makes it whole. Denial of the shadow, therefore, is denying a vital part of our individuality. It takes a great toll on every individual to begin confronting the darkness that has been breading. More so when you conclude that it is a labor that will never have no end. It is a battle of the person you never wish to become in the own personal hell that you created. It is not a question of ‘why no one is involved in shadow work? Because it is very much self-evident. No one wants to face themselves—for good reason considering the monsters that we are. The better question is, ‘why are people doing shadow work, Considering the monsters that we are’? When it is physically and mentally vexatious as well as fatiguing. What is it exactly that makes us want to rectify this constituent part of individual and taking all the atrocities and personal hell into consideration?