The Persona You Created to Blend In is learnt at a very tender age. The word “Persona” means “Mask” in Greek. We all learnt that a certain acceptable behavioral pattern exists. A pattern that works well through your adolescent years and early adulthood. Unfortunately, there is an unfortunate ending to this story. If your “Persona” is excessive, your authentic personality “dissipates” and becomes unrecognizable.
The social mask you put on everyday suddenly becomes the determinant factor for you daily pursuits drowning out your real self. In some cases, this has paid off for the performer (yes performer i said) as they make lots of money, climb the career ladder, earn love, admiration among many other things playing their role. However, most times the performers are empty beings who give up total control of themselves without a connection to their deep yearnings, have no self-knowledge and only echo popular opinions to please other performers in their groups.
One way i have learnt to identify major persona cases is through their quick estrangement or victimization of people around them who become aware of their intentions.
EVERYDAY EXAMPLES OF PERSONA ALL AROUND US
In the darkest corner of a restaurant, sipping on strong liquor and eating veggies, That would most likely be me. Let’s get it right, i’m no spook or stalker but for over 20 years, i’ve always enjoyed understanding why human beings act, talk, react and turn out the way they do. This is why this topic is very important to me and for us all. In our present society, there are persona’s all around us. Here are some of the common ones I’ve noticed and come in close contact with counseling people on a daily basis;
Since your persona is the part of yourself that you present to the world or show to the world, your persona or the way people view you is only as accurate as you want it to be. Some examples of different personas i’ve experienced include:
- The Slay Queen/King: Social media influencer with lots of friends, always the life of the party, exotic locations, perfect pictures and expensive things. This reminds me of Hollywood. An individual who wants to come off as accomplished garners a harem of followers who build a “God-complex” around them and constantly aspire to be where they are. This unfortunately is an indication of some deep-seethed hole widening as fantasy is constantly sold as realism. Many have been caught up in this web especially as resources dwindle and those in this class are forced to keep up appearances. .
- The Politician: He wants to come off to voters as a regular, nice guy who cares about normal people. He uses the street slang, language and common metaphors, he appears on TV shows and is congenial and he is always friendly and joking. He has a positive public persona as someone who cares about others. Then we all vote and the rest is sad history.
- The Moguls: A businessman wants others to think that he is very powerful and successful. He drives a fancy car, buys a big house, wears expensive clothing and talks down to people that he thinks are below him on the social ladder. The persona he presents to the world is that he is a rich guy but not very nice or compassionate.
- The Philantropist: The business man in your village who is charitable and kind. He offers lots of benefits and perks to his employees and he makes sure that his business publicly gives lots of money to charities and positive social causes. His persona is that he is a good guy but his wife and children have a different story to tell.
- The Helper: This woman or man is nothing short of a saddist. Anger, greed, envy, rage, anti-social but wants to be viewed as a nice guy so he can get close to his victims. He acts very polite, is quiet and is even helpful. Everyone likes him and he has a positive public persona even though it doesn’t reflect who he really is.
- The Helpless Love-struck Dame/Lad: We see young women/men who fall helplessly under the charms and experience of a much older man/woman. WRONG! Most times it’s the older men or women who fall under the seductive aura of a younger partner presenting themselves as the clueless/naive one searching for real love. The much younger partner then marries a much older partner usually to make up for an emotional or financial lack. Can any of these “love-struck” ones please fall for your village uncle/aunt looking for a hand-out? That would be the ultimate case study for real love! Deep down, these are Gold diggers who actively seek out older men or women .
- The Cool Kid: A child going to a new school for the first time wants others to think that he is popular, cool and unafraid. He dresses in fashionable clothing and he walks in with confidence and says hello to everyone. He is presenting a brave persona of a likable and popular kid.
- Prince/Princess Charming: Everyone online seems to be funny, flirty, smart and assertive. Positive language everywhere and emphasis on their great qualities and attributes. The person is creating a positive public persona of someone it would be fun to date or join in a relationship. Get involved and it promises to be a painful ride of discovery most of the time.
- The Right One: At interviews, everyone who turns out seems to be a go-getter, good dresser, geeky glasses, team player, loves a challenge and enjoys team bonding exercises. Well, this is them trying to create a persona of a professional who is competent and capable of doing the job.
The Shadow (Something You Don’t Want Us To Know About)
The act seems great until it starts clashing with the “Shadow”. Imagine a comedian who deep down is not a people person but has to put up a happy smiley face whenever he is around people or a military officer that carries his strict attitude over to his relationship with his family and friends. The persona becomes difficult to dissociate from the real you over time and this marks the beginning of a journey to your dark side.
Your persona is a tool and you MUST see it as this. If well utilized, it can make your character more likable and easier to interact with. However, waiting for it’s opportunity in the darkness is your “Shadow” (click here to read about it) repressed daily by your persona.
Confronting your shadow will always be your first act of courage. Have you ever heard these words “Man know thyself”? That is a call many do not look into from a deep perspective. Sometimes uncovering unpleasant things about yourself isn’t so nice. It’s more convenient to show them your persona than your shadow self. The kind, warm gentle, benevolent,caring and loving you rather than the ingrate, wretched, aggressive, envious and power hungry you.
Acknowledging our dark side, gives us a ‘rational’ approach to dealing with life as a whole. It gives you a sense of control over your life only a few women and men possess. Your shadow is a part of your personality that wants to be acknowledged but in environments where it is either prayed out, argued out of existence or rationalized into harmlessness, it’s hold on you increases and the more shadows you push into the closet, the more chances there are that one of them WILL take the stage when you least desire.
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THE STRONG PERSONALITY AND HIS SHADOW
Every one know a strong man or woman. I know a couple of them and one thing they ALL do not like is being reminded of those traits that remind them of weakness. This challenges their whole being and reminds them of their helplessness and ineffectuality. So these strong personalities would rather see themselves as heroes who are beyond the concept of good and evil.
Let’s look at one concept that shows us the shadow is always there directing the actions of men from it’s dark place. WAR! every leader in the world wants peace and prosperity for their people yet there are wars popping up everywhere and countries amassing arms and weapons of mass destruction. Our conscious intentions and reality are in a state of disconnect. A lecturer imbibing values and virtues to their student would still in an unguarded moment say harsh words that contradicts his belief system. This is simply due to the fact that the psyche isn’t a coherent entity that you have full control of.
HOW TO POSITIVELY USE THE PERSONA
We must have a psychological understanding of our persona and it’s relationship to the outside world. A military officer has taken on a persona that enables him function with his colleagues, contemporaries and enemies. However, a military man who does not understand when to take off this persona will definitely affect his own relationships at home, with parents and children.
Never let it go beyond a useful convenience. A garment you take on and off. Anything aside from this use will eventually become a trap. If you have become entangled with your persona, I guess it’s time we had a chat.
As always, i hope this piece helped someone somewhere. Having a persona isn’t a bad thing but letting it take over everything and determine what your daily pursuits in life are is the real tragedy. That is what has created many people who have become successful in the wrong fields. Knowledge they say is power but i say in it’s right application lies real mastery.
Written by Obike Temple
A Counselor, psychotherapist, brand-Sage and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.
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