What is the Self?

yellowflowersWhat is the Self? We ask this question and attempt to uncover the why and how of our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, desires and dreams. Are there aspects of Self that are hidden from us? If we were to Awaken, uncover and discover these hidden facets, what would we learn about our Self? Even more poignant is the question of whether who we are at present is the “Real Me”?

Is the Self the same as the self (small “s” versus capital “S”)? If you describe your self to another person, what types of descriptors do you use? Most of us start out by telling others our name, our age, our birth order, our ethnicity, our profession, where we live, who we are partnered with, how many children we have, where we grew up, etc. We might even tell others that we are fun, happy, creative, patient and caring. But do these descriptors really inform others as to “who you are?” Don’t these words tell more about where you came from, what you do, what you care about, and who is in your life? Even if they are accurate descriptors to your conscious mind are they truly emerging from the Self or did we simply learn these things and swallow them whole? From whom did we learn these things? Are they our truths? Have we ever taken the time to consciously examine their origin or meaning?

As we begin to contemplate the nature of self and Self, a definition of each might be helpful. The self can be described as the ego’s description of who we are. These are the adjectives and parts of our lives that we want others to know. The self hides those things about us that we fear may make us unacceptable to others, so we conceal this knowledge from others and often times from ourselves as well. Carl Jung would describe the ego as invested in presenting a persona (or mask) that makes us seem presentable and okay to others. Rarely are the personae that we portray a complete picture because when we operate from our personae, we are constricting our personality to make us more acceptable to others but this doesn’t satisfy us. We feel inauthentic because we are operating from a place of judgment about ourselves and selecting which characteristics will enhance our image to others rather than being true to our nature.

shastaTo live from the Awakened Self requires that we become more aware/conscious of what we are thinking and feeling so that we can just rest in our beingness instead of living our lives as if we are human do-ings rather than human be-ings. We come to realize that maybe left-brained, logical, reasoned living may not meet the needs of our spirit and soul. Truth comes from the heart and not the head. So we begin our journey inward into what has been called “the dark night of the soul.”

We slowly awaken to understand that our lives have been the result of coming into the world with work to do, but not really knowing what that work might be. Awakening beckons us to be still so that we can hear our inner truths rather than hearing what our heads tell us! We learn that we have to unlearn much of what we were taught because we wake up and realize that we have been living a story, a script, a myth—and they aren’t even our own stories! Once we have this epiphany, we can begin the awakening process and consciously catch ourselves when we slip into our games’ our head games. These head games are simply the myths, the personal mythology that has guided our lives up to this point. They were formed from our experiences with our parents, siblings, families, friends, schools, organizations, cultures, society, acquaintances, cities and towns where we live. All our experiences provide us with a story of how we “should be” and what our place is within that larger society. We learn stories about ourselves (whether they are true or not) and live them out, not knowing that we have been duped! What we really came here to do was to be our unique, perfect SELF—to live that SELF fiercely, as Anita Moorjani said after her near-death experience.