In case you haven’t heard the expression ‘are you going to put your face on’ – it’s a northern term for applying your make up. Maybe you, like me, have friends who won’t go out of the house without a full application of ‘slap’ on their faces. I have other friends who, like me, will get on a Facebook live without a single drop of mascara or lippy. Me – well it depends what I feel like on the day.
But for those who won’t leave the house without full make up – I think there is more going on than wanting to look nice for yourself. If you CAN’T leave the house without putting on a full face of make up, there has to be a deeper reason than ‘I want to look nice’.
Maybe it is a deeply ingrained behaviour from childhood where you watched your Mum putting on ‘HER face’ before going out. Perhaps you fear being judged by other women. Maybe you are looking for a new relationship and perhaps you might find ‘the one’ in Tesco, you never know!
Here’s the thing – if the thought of anyone seeing you without full make up is horrifying, then maybe it’s not other people you are worried about – maybe it’s you. Can you stand in front of your mirror and look at yourself with no make up and not cringe? Can you look at yourself without judging the lines, the wrinkles, the grey hair, the bags or dark rings under your eyes, the crooked nose, the big teeth, the freckles, the pimples, the open pores, the shape of your brows, the lips or eyes that are too big or too small, the square jaw or the receding chin? I could go on, but you get my point.
There are not enough people in general and women in particular who can look in the mirror and see perfection. Even at the height of their youth, when everyone around them sees all the good stuff. And yet the fact is that you ARE perfect. You are unique. There is only one YOU and there will only ever BE one you for the entire history of time. And all your ‘imperfections’ are perfect. They are what makes you – you!
If you deconstructed the face of your favourite superstar celebrity – let’s take David Beckham – you will find lots of ‘faults’. If you were really looking you could say his eyes are a bit small, his forehead at the hairline is a bit wide, his eyebrows are a bit patchy at the ends, his teeth are a bit wonky. But you see, he is perfect – just the way he is. All the ‘faults’ are what makes up the face known as ‘David Beckham’, and IF those faults were ‘corrected’ – then he wouldn’t look the same and perhaps wouldn’t be so attractive to so many. Not me of course – a bit too pretty for me. But lots of other people.
The point is – we look in the mirror and we see the imperfections and therefore we ‘put on a face’.
And that’s not the only kind of face we put on is it? Oh no – we are very adept at faces. I bet you have loads. How about ‘the brave face’, that’s the one you put on to show other people how well you are coping with disappointment or sadness. Then there’s the nonchalant face – that’s the one you might use when you REALLY want something but you don’t want the other people to know. For example, at work there is a prize for the best performer of the month and you think it’s you but you are not sure and so you put on the ‘I really don’t care one way or the other’ so you don’t feel humiliated if you don’t get it.
There is the smiling assassin face – this is the face of you trying to appear friendly when someone you really detest is in the room. It is the face that says – ‘how nice to see you(GOD I WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE). Or how about the ‘I’m so pleased with this (horrendous) gift you just gave me’. Or the ‘Well done (you SO don’t deserve that b***h).
Perhaps you have had the ‘I totally (DON’T) understand you and feel your pain’ face. Or maybe you have at times had the ‘Oh that is SOOO funny (I have NO idea why that is funny) face. If you are a parent you will definitely have had the ‘oh that is so lovely (what on earth is that drawing supposed to be?)’ face and the ‘Oh I am so surprised I had no idea you were planning a surprise for me(heard you talking to Daddy about it) face.
And I am betting at some stage in your life you have had the ‘Oh my this is so delicious (oh my god I think I am going to throw up) face.
We wear a lot of faces. Some of them because we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), and some because we don’t want to hurt our own feelings. Mostly because we are afraid. We are afraid of what other people will think of us if we tell the truth. We are afraid they will judge us or they won’t like us anymore.
And that’s all well and good. But you see, for the most part, you cannot hide how you really feel.
It has long been known (1966 Haggard and Isaacs), that your face has micro expressions. These are not anything you can do anything about. In immediate response to a situation your face goes into one of 6 micro expressions. These are anger, disgust, sadness, happiness, surprise, contempt and disgust. Ekman expanded this to include amusement, embarrassment, anxiety, guilt, pride, relief, contentment, pleasure, and shame.
It is almost impossible to control these micro expressions and interrogators are taught to recognise them. But the fact is most people recognise them at a subconscious level. There will be people who you just don’t get on with very well and you are not sure why. It is probably because you picked up on their micro expression when meeting them.
And the plain fact is – that most of the time, it would be better not to put a face on. Because by doing that you are denying part of yourself. You are denying the emotion that wants to come out. Now it might not be appropriate to say to your friend that the dress she just picked out and clearly loves doesn’t suit her – because who are you to judge if she loves it? And you clearly don’t want to tell your child their scribble looks nothing like an elephant, because to them it does and you want to encourage them in the things they love, and it doesn’t matter.
However, when it comes to YOU lying to yourself, then it definitely does. Putting on a brave face, just makes you swallow the emotion that is there, it doesn’t process that emotion. That is like swallowing poison for your body and your mind. Saying you are OK with something just to please someone else when inside you deeply resent it, is NOT ok for your mental or physical health and pretending that not getting the job/separating from someone you still love or your dog dying, is not affecting you is NOT OK, because it IS affecting you.
Unprocessed emotion causes disease, it causes blocks in your life that you may not even be aware of, but it stops you living fully.
One of the things we are doing this week on our WHY’s women retreat in Marrakesh is working on our self awareness. If you are aware of your real feelings, your emotions and your current strategies for dealing with life, then you can begin to release those masks, those faces that you wear instead of loving your true face, your true self.
If you want to live without putting on a face, email me. Let’s talk about how we can help you find your why, and live love and laugh everyday!