Relational Masks: Removing the Barriers that Keep us Apart

by Karen Davis

Perhaps you sense an unpleasant distance between you and those with whom you would like to be close. Counselor and author Russell Willingham has written a readable, narrative, and biblical discussion of six barriers that hinder relationships.

Willingham describes six types of people who wear relational masks: The avoider, the deflector, the self-blamer, the savior, the aggressor, and the spiritualizer. Here is a brief glimpse at his insightful descriptions:

The avoider says things like, "What's the big deal? I'll get around to it." Some descriptions of the avoider include easygoing or passive and steady or stuck. To a deflector, life seems like a big joke and he gets nervous if the conversation gets serious.  The deflector will say, "I'm doing great" (all the time.)  The self-blamer sees self as a lost cause, is pessimistic and negative. The savior believes everyone else's needs are greater than personal needs, and the savior rarely has fun. The aggressor uses hostility as a shield. Very practical and capable of seeing the bottom line, the aggressor sees people as tools for implementing an agenda. Finally, the spiritualizer uses favorite phrases such as, "If you prayed and read your Bible you would not have this problem." The judgment and shame the spiritualizer inflicts on listeners prevent relationship.

 These masks are tragic because they hinder relationships. "Everything God has ever done or will do is geared toward the formation of intimate relationships," Willingham says. Deftly he offers wise steps to enable the reader to move from isolation to relationship. Each group receives specific help to address its needs. The advice is not simplistic.

Far from being a self-help book, this short volume offers godly wisdom and an emphasis on spiritual and relational healing.

Target: Those who want to shed masks

Type:   Interpersonal relations

Take:     Very helpful

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