“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” – Thomas Szasz
Selfhood – the quality that constitutes one’s individuality; the state of having an individual identity.
Are you living a life that is more aligned with your “authentic” self – who you are – or your fictional, pseudo-self – how the world defines you?
The fictional pseudo-self would be the roles you play. Parent, occupation, nationality, income status, citizen, religion, etc.
The truth is we do a pretty good job on ourselves and each other to keep us defined by the roles we play instead of who we were created to be.
You’ve probably heard before that you can’t do that because you’re a Mom, Dad, married, Democrat, Christian, fill in the blank.
Can you tolerate being alone with yourself without distracting yourself?
Most people can’t do this.
Being alone by yourself forces you to be with yourself.
The self is “the you”, the whole you – all aspects.
Not liking all parts of you, and then not wanting to own up to it is the reason why people will do almost anything to avoid being alone.
The real challenge comes when you recognize there are parts of your being that you want to change, yet for some reason, you just can’t seem to do it.
The egoic mind resists change even when it is in the best interest of the whole “self”.
The ego absolutely, positively does not want to look at the shadow parts of yourself. The parts you don’t want to look at or confront.
By nature, people will do things no matter how ridiculous to avoid having to deal with the shadow aspects of the psyche.
Character building = The Self
Is your word as good as gold?
Do you have integrity?
Are you honest and trustworthy?
These are aspects of character building. You can’t see these things, yet they become apparent in all relationships you have.
Success is often defined as physical traits like a big house, a good career, a nice car and clothes, a fit body and so on.
We can see these things in ourselves and others and we can also get instant gratification with them.
Oh look at that big house, that fancy car and clothes, whoa, look at her body.
How often do we say these things about someone’s character?
Sure, we notice negative character traits in other people, but what about the positive traits?
- Man, that person is solid as a rock, I can totally depend on him.
- You know, I can always trust that person.
- She is an honest person and I appreciate that about her.
- His integrity is impeccable. When he says he’s going to do something, consider it done.
- She is so cooperative, I wish more people were like her.
- I love how positive you are, even when things look bad.
- You are one of the most loyal people I have ever met.
- Your self-control and self-discipline is outstanding.
- She is one of the most compassionate beings that I have ever met.
- That man is so courageous.
We often overlook look these unseen character traits in people because we are so “outer focused” most of the time. It’s time we start building them in ourselves and to also appreciate them in other people.
Remember, when we die, we cannot take anything physical with us. All we have and will ever have is our soul – The person that we are. That’s all that really matters anyway.
The philosophy of the self defines the essential qualities that make one person distinct from all others.
The self is the idea of a unified being which is the source of consciousness. Moreover, this self is the agent responsible for the thoughts and actions of an individual to which they are ascribed.
It is a substance, which therefore endures through time; thus, the thoughts and actions at different moments may pertain to the same self.
So many of us have gotten caught up in the roles that we play and the never ending barrage of personal and social responsibilities, and as a result, we have lost ourselves.
We no longer can remember who we REALLY are.
Being an individual or self is a good thing, because even though we are connected energetically as a collective whole, without the individual self, we will become little more than programmed robots being directed by some higher authority.
Being a self is who we are, yet because of societal programming, most of us live unconsciously through programmed beliefs via social conditioning.
We’re constantly being told who we are by people who don’t have a clue about who they are. It’s like the blind leading the blind here.
I’m not suggesting you become a rebel or law breaker, that’s not where I’m going here.
I’m suggesting you get to know yourself on a soul-level and I’m not talking about religion or spirituality either.
Your soul is something you build every day by being true to who you are. When you negate your true self and its desires, you ultimately sacrifice your soul.
The soul and the self are identical. There is no difference.
Your soul is an artistic creation that you’re working on each and every day. It’s “The You” that you’ve become and are becoming.
However, when becoming ourselves, it’s not a matter of who’s going to let you, but it’s who’s going to get in your way. (Hint -it will be your own ego masking as outside problems).
Do you want to know why people who invest in personal development have such trouble improving themselves?
They have trouble because they are not actually improving themselves. Often times they only manage to change aspects of the self like the personality or the ego.
The ego is the level just beyond the personality structure of the mind. The ego acts as a protective layer; its job has become to protect the “real self” from being seen negatively by other people and also from being taken advantage of.
The ego acts as the organized part of the personality structure that includes defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions. Conscious awareness resides in the ego, although not all of the operations of the ego are conscious.
“The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.” – Alan Watts
Sigmund Freud – Ego
Sigmund Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality testing, control, planning, defense, blending of information, intellectual functioning, and memory.
That’s it. Anything more than that will literally “fry” or break the ego and that is where we see people with fragmented minds and other mental diseases.
Bashar also states that the ego acts autonomously meaning it acts separately from the self.
Because we live in a stressful world where the fear of loss is prevalent, the ego, and not the self is what people typically present to us every day.
It is also very important that we take an honest look at ourselves. That means all parts of ourselves including the dark spots that we don’t want to look at or admit.
Seeing ourselves as we are, that means all of ourselves; this is the first stage of real, personal transformation.
If we don’t this, than we are going to be stuck on a merry-go-round. Our lives appear to be moving, yet we aren’t really going anywhere.
It’s not easy to take an honest, object look at ourselves; most people will never do this because it is too painful.
But, the ones that will do this will see their lives expand in new and exciting ways.
Carl Jung – The Self
The Self in Jungian psychology is one of the Jungian archetypes, signifying the unification of consciousness and unconsciousness in a person, and representing the psyche as a whole.
The Self, according to Jung, is realized as the product of individuation, which in his view is the process of integrating one’s personality.
Jung considered that from birth every individual has an original sense of wholeness – of the Self – but that with development a separate ego-consciousness crystallizes out of the original feeling of unity.
Jung’s theory of neurosis is based on the premise of a self-regulating psyche composed of tensions between opposing attitudes of the ego and the unconscious.
A neurosis is a significant unresolved tension between these contending attitudes.
Each neurosis is unique, and different things work in different cases, so no therapeutic method can be arbitrarily applied. Nevertheless, there is a set of cases that Jung especially addressed.
Although adjusted well enough to everyday life, the individual has lost a fulfilling sense of meaning and purpose, and has no living religious belief to which to turn.
There seems to be no readily apparent way to set matters right. In these cases, Jung turned to ongoing symbolic communication from the unconscious in the form of dreams and visions.
There are several layers that surround the self. Each one affects the experience of the self in either positive or negative ways.
Generally speaking, the holistic health of each layer decides how the self perceives the world and itself, and how it relates (fits in) to the world.
The Divided Self – R.D. Laing
(Laing contrasts the experience of the “ontologically secure” person with that of a person who “cannot take the realness, aliveness, autonomy and identity of himself and others for granted” and who consequently contrives strategies to avoid “losing his self“.)
Freud insisted that our civilization is a repressive one. There is a conflict between the demands of conformity and the demands of our instinctive energies.
A partial depersonalization of others is extensively practiced in everyday life and is regarded as normal if not highly desirable.
Most relationships are based on some partial depersonalizing tendency in so far as one treats the other not in terms of any awareness of who or what he might be in himself, but as virtually an android robot playing a role or part in a large machine in which one too may be acting yet another part.
The ‘personality‘ and which I have proposed to call the false-self system, is dissociated and partly autonomous.
The self is not felt to participate in the doings of the false self or selves, and all its or their actions are felt to be increasingly false and futile. The self, on the other hand, regards itself as the ‘true‘ self and the persona as false.
The individual complains of futility, of lack of spontaneity, but he may cultivate his lack of spontaneity and thus aggravating his sense of futility.
He says he is not real and is outside reality and not properly alive. Existentially, he is quite right.
The self is extremely aware of itself, and observes the false self, usually highly critically.
But the self may feel itself in danger from the overall spread of the false-self system or from one particular part of it.
When the self partially abandons the body and its acts, and withdraws into mental activity, it experiences itself as an entity perhaps localized somewhere in the body.
We have suggested that this withdrawal is in part an effort to preserve its being, since relationship of any kind with others is experienced as a threat to the self’s identity.
The self feels safe only in hiding, and isolated.
Such a self can, of course, be isolated at any time whether other people are present or not.
But this does not work.
George Herbert Mead Pragmatism
There are four main tenets of pragmatism: First, to pragmatists true reality does not exist “out there” in the real world, it “is actively created as we act in and toward the world.
Second, people remember and base their knowledge of the world on what has been useful to them and are likely to alter what no longer “works.”
Third, people define the social and physical “objects” they encounter in the world according to their use for them. Lastly, if we want to understand actors, we must base that understanding on what people actually do.
Three of these ideas are critical to symbolic interactionism:
- The focus on the interaction between the actor and the world
- A view of both the actor and the world as dynamic processes and not static structures and
- The actor’s ability to interpret the social world.
Thus, to Mead and symbolic interactionists, consciousness is not separated from action and interaction, but is an integral part of both.
A final piece of Mead’s social theory is the mind as the individual importation of the social process. As previously discussed, Mead presented the self and the mind in terms of a social process.
As gestures are taken in by the individual organism, the individual organism also takes in the collective attitudes of others, in the form of gestures, and reacts accordingly with other organized attitudes.
This process is characterized by Mead as the “I” and the “Me“. The “Me” is the social self and the “I” is the response to the “Me.”
In other words, the “I” is the response of an individual to the attitudes of others, while the “me” is the organized set of attitudes of others which an individual assumes.
Mead develops William James’ distinction between the “I” and the “me.” The “me” is the accumulated understanding of “the generalized other” i.e. how one thinks one’s group perceives oneself etc.
The “I” is the individual’s impulses. The “I” is self as subject; the “me” is self as object. The “I” is the knower, the “me” is the known. The mind, or stream of thought, is the self-reflective movements of the interaction between the “I” and the “me.”
These dynamics go beyond selfhood in a narrow sense, and form the basis of a theory of human cognition.
For Mead the thinking process is the internalized dialogue between the “I” and the “me.” Mead rooted the self’s “perception and meaning” deeply and sociologically in “a common praxis of subjects” (Joas 1985: 166) found specifically in social encounters.
Understood as a combination of the ‘I‘ and the ‘me‘, Mead’s self proves to be noticeably entwined within a sociological existence.
For Mead, existence in community comes before individual consciousness. First one must participate in the different social positions within society and only subsequently can one use that experience to take the perspective of others and thus become self-conscious.
Insightful Quotes about the Self and Selfhood
“In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly.” – Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements
“The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.” – Alan Watts
“The Real Self is dangerous: dangerous to the established church, dangerous to the state, dangerous to the crowd, dangerous to tradition, because once a man knows his real self, he becomes an individual.” – Osho
“The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.” – David Icke
“Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What the Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens.
We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.” – Byron Katie
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. – Eleanor Roosevelt
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls.” – Carl Jung
“True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is.” – R.D. Laing
“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss — an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. — is sure to be noticed.” – The Sickness Unto Death
“Children should be taught to question everything. To question everything they read, everything they hear. Children should be taught to question authority. Parents never teach their children to question authority because parents are authority figures themselves, and they don’t want to undermine their own bullshit inside the household”. – George Carlin
“Twentieth century peoples have erected so many psychological barriers against strong emotion, and have invested those defenses with so much of the energy derived from forbidden impulse, that they can no longer remember what it feels like to be inundated by desire.
They tend, rather, to be consumed with rage, which arises from defenses against desire and gives rise in turn to defenses against rage itself. Outwardly bland, submissive and sociable, they seethe with an inner anger for which a dense, overpopulated, bureaucratic society can devise few legitimate outlets.” – Christopher Lasch
“The struggle is not with others, but within us, to do what we are called to do” – John Geddes
“A man fights for a self that is not a true self. It is only a shell, dependent on abstractions that do not serve life itself, but rather its concealment.” – Scott Peck
“So long as we remain in the womb of this externalized and public existence, we are spared the terror and the dignity of becoming a Self.” William Barrett
“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” Ayn Rand
“If things go wrong in the world, something is wrong with me. Therefore, if I am sensible, I shall put put myself right first.” – Carl Jung
“Humans live with fifty feet of solid concrete between themselves and the true world of their soul.” R.D. Laing
“How do you react when you think you need people’s love? Do you become a slave for their approval? Do you live an inauthentic life because you can’t bear the thought that they might disapprove of you? Do you try to figure out how they would like you to be, and then try to become that, like a chameleon? In fact, you never really get their love.
You turn into someone you aren’t, and then when they say “I love you,” you can’t believe it, because they’re loving a facade. They’re loving someone who doesn’t even exist, the person you’re pretending to be. It’s difficult to seek other people’s love. It’s deadly. In seeking it, you lose what is genuine. This is the prison we create for ourselves as we seek what we already have.” – Byron Katie
“Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
“We laugh at sheep because sheep just follow the one in front. We humans have out-sheeped the sheep, because at least the sheep need a sheep dog to keep them in line. Humans keep each other in line. And they do it by ridiculing or condemning anyone who commits the crime, and that’s what it’s become, of being different.” – David Icke
“Your whole idea about yourself is borrowed-borrowed from those who have no idea of who they are themselves.” – Osho
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people”. – Carl Jung
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“Not only do people in the Western world feel separated from others with whom they live and who make up their society, they also feel divided within themselves, riven between the selves they present in relations with others and the individuals they feel themselves to be deep down inside. The armor that protects and separates us from others appears also to drive a deep wedge between our feelings and our ability to express them in public.” – G.H. Mead
“Insanity, a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” – R.D. Laing
“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” Sigmund Freud
“The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.
What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?
But I am done with this creed of corruption.
I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.
This god, this one word: “I.” – Ayn Rand
- Michael Tsarion – The Shadow Self
- Change the Projector of your Reality
- Michael Tsarion – Creative Man vs Destructive Man