Many of us actually have no idea of the true Self we really are deep within. Instead we have learned to identify with what the Pathwork calls the "mask self". This is the self-idealized version of ourselves we want to believe we are and want the world to see. Our mask consists of the image we wish to project, the roles we play and the beliefs about who and what we "should" be. We play to an audience rather than come to know, accept and express our genuine thoughts and feelings. Often we are unaware that we even wear a mask because we have come to believe that it is who we really are. Some examples of mask selves are "people pleasers", "achievers", "having it all together", being "good", being "cool" etc. Behind the mask we hide our real thoughts, opinions, and feelings, our pain, traumas, insecurities and human struggles with the negative characteristics we are all capable of. This is what Jung called the "shadow self" and the Pathwork calls the "lower self". I choose to call it the hidden self. In order to grow and evolve and reach higher levels of consciousness we must become willing to remove our masks and face and deal with our ego issues, our childhood and other past traumas, our repressed emotion, our limiting beliefs and come to a place of compassionate self-acceptance as well as honest self-examination. We must do the hard work of healing, understanding where we've come from, changing our distorted beliefs about ourselves and others, release painful or angry emotion and confront our self-defeating behaviors.
Our culture has encouraged the wearing of masks. When we are asked how we are we are supposed to say "Fine!" How many of us actually feel fine all the time? Many of us grew up in families where our honest thoughts and feelings were shamed or even punished. We all long to know ourselves and to be known, accepted and loved in a genuine way, for who we really are. The Pathwork outlines a comprehensive process for letting go of our masks and facing the hidden self beneath. It is only by navigating through this territory that we eventually connect with and live from our Spirits. It is not an easy task but the rewards are well worth the challenges of the journey.