We tend to think of the self as one unit. Something that does not change.
But are you the same person to your boss as to your lover? Are you the same person with your mother as you are with your work colleagues? We present a different self to each of these situations and many more depending on who we meet.
When we experience moments of sadness, anger, joy or melancholy.
We think that the sad, angry, joyful or melancholy person that we are experiencing is who we are.
So are we joyful and sad and angry at the same time? Most likely not.
So who are we?
If I examine the workings of the my mind, I find that there are many selves at work. Just a few examples would be
my analytical self, the one that is trying to describe this.
My writer self, translating what my analytical self is trying to formulate.
My ego, making sure I’m not revealing anything in the writing that would leave me open to attack.
My physical self, running my body, making sure I get enough air, water and heat, commanding my fingers to move in unnatural patterns in order to type this into a keyboard.
My working self, making sure I have all I need to get the job done and making sure I am physically safe and achieving my goals.
My baby self , the one that laughs and gurgles and just wants to play.
My hidden self, the one that does not want me to reveal these thoughts.
My higher self, that feels and understands things beyond this body, The observer of my life. The adventuresome self, wanting to see and experience anything new and different.
My wise self, the one his been around and brings a quiet understanding and compassion to my mind.
All of these may have conflicting goals, My baby self wants to play and my physical self wants some downtime but I have to go to work today and be my working self.
If I don’t find some balance between these different selves, something will have to give, Either I’ll get sick so I’ll have to rest, or I may easily get upset at work because as part of me would rather be playing or I could ignore my working self and just play and rest all the time and maybe wind up homeless, sleeping on the streets and begging for money, something my other selves would probably not go for.
One of our first tasks is to start a conversation with ourselves.
Not a blaming conversation, where each self argues for its pain and point of view but rather a conversation between family members, who have love and respect for each other and are trying to reach an understanding and compassion for each others needs and desires.
Every self within you has same basic core value and that is to protect you. Every self , is trying in its way to help you. So make yourself a list of selves. Put aside twenty minutes and just write them down. Ask “ Who else is in here and wants to be known?” Don’t let the doubter in you stop the flow. Things that seem ridiculous when written down can open to insights about yourself that you may have never known before. This is never a final list, as you explore your interior life, you find more and more selves.
When you have written down a list of selves. Contemplate your list and begin a conversation, Invite one of these selves to have a seat and to tell you who they are and what they are trying to do. Don’t judge, just listen and let them tell you what they need to tell you. Stick to one self at a time and remember that each self is trying to protect or help you and needs to understand that the other selves are also trying to help and protect you. Once you have heard everyone out, See where you can let each self have its time. After a workday, maybe that working self that is still making plans and trying to achieve goals can be let to rest and instead you allow the physical self to do some exercise to release some of the stress of the day and maybe later you satisfy that part of you that needs to play by painting or writing or playing music or playing with your pet. This is a simple example, it becomes more complex because we have other needs as well.
Good hunting! Truth is the best prey