Persona feels comfortable, like a warm onesie that has the magical ability to look like our idea of the best outfit ever. It’s our personal safety blanket. It is concerned with image, how others see us and how we see ourselves. Whereas, our authentic self isn’t in the least interested in how we appear to others or what they might think of us.
Persona invests in building a desired false story and narrative around us. It uses every means available and these days, social media makes the job easier than ever. An intelligent persona will actively promote the opposite of its truth, appearing self-effacing, empathetic, sensitive, kind, loving, confident and empowered, even affecting spiritual mastery, when the truth is, persona is only ever interested in itself, in feeding the hole within. Deep down, a person in their persona has little or no sense of self-worth but probably won’t know that consciously, in fact, they might believe the opposite about themselves. Everything is calculated to deceive others and ourselves, especially ourselves. We are as clueless as anybody else that we are in persona and not personality, the more we are persona, the more clueless we are.
Please understand, those unfortunate ones amongst us who lost their entire personality in early childhood are victims of deep traumas and wounds that nearly all of us experience in childhood. Only, they had it worse. How bad a trauma experience is to a little child cannot be judged by others, only by the child themselves. To some, moving school or a parental divorce is a trauma, to others, it’s not so much, it depends on so many factors; the resilience of the child, what else is going on in their lives, how well they are supported, how well they are heard, validated and loved. We cannot judge how severely traumatised a child will be from any given information of what was going on.
As a mental health professional (retired), my experience has been that, in childhood, everyday insipid trauma can be pretty much invisible and accepted at the time. And it can cause heavy damage. Criticism, put-downs, not being heard, not being loved, not being liked, not being valued, being controlled, and robbed of one’s sense of self, whether or not other forms of abuse are present, all this becomes constant reality for that little child.
So, when a child who has not yet developed their cognitive processing abilities is faced by this, they try to change, to be what that care giver, the primary influence in their lives is asking of them, imposing on them. They diminish their true selves more and more each day in their search to be what they need to be, to be loved, approved, accepted. But they can never win. Because that care giver is carrying their own trauma from their childhood and doesn’t know how to behave any other way. The child grows up with the new persona they create to survive. That persona replaces their personality, in some cases, personality is replaced completely, there is nothing of the original personality left, only persona.
By the time that little child has grown up, their coping mechanisms may have wiped out many of their early years childhood memories to protect them from the truth. They no longer have an explanation for the way they feel, except, they rarely or ever do feel the pain of their deep wound because persona has taken over. They have developed a complete persona and don’t know any different, don’t know that isn’t their authentic self. The last thing their persona will ever let happen is for them to realise because that would be the hardest blow of all for them to take.
Or would it?
Some believe that people who have lost their personality altogether, who are entirely persona are, more or less doomed to remain that way. This is because the strength of persona means it’s almost impossible to ever face or believe that we are persona and not our authentic self. We would need to accept this and then commit to years of healing, remaining committed all the time, overcoming self-sabotage, deflection and hi-jacking by a powerful persona at every turn. When the entirety of who we are is persona, it’s going to do everything in its power to stop us from waking up to the truth, thinking it’s doing so in our best interests.
We are not persona, we are soul. Nothing is lost, nothing is ever lost, even when we are all persona, our natural personality is still inside of us, our soul is still with us. Our authentic self is not gone, it can never be removed. Nothing was removed, it’s just that the hard shell, the carapace that is persona doesn’t leave any way for personality to shine through. There is always a light, the soul is ever present and as strong and powerful as ever. Everyone can remove persona, everyone can chip off that carapace and remove the shell. Everyone can reclaim their authentic self. It can be done.
To remove persona is the same journey through ‘death of self’ that the shaman takes, to completely ‘kill’ the self, the persona, and reveal what lies beneath, our beautiful truth. We can all take this path to break down whatever it is that we have constructed that needs to be eradicated. Such an initiation may lead to total collapse of self, often creating chaos initially.
We are like a phoenix chick being reborn from the ashes and our persona is the cracked and broken eggshell, falling away and burning up in the white-hot embers. We rise, our wings outstretched in the splendour that is the beautiful and worthy person we always were, our soul, our authentic self. Freedom is possible and authenticity can be embodied.