Many names have been used over the years when it comes to describing that part of someone that is not real or authentic. And one of those names is the false self and many others have also been used such as: the mask that someone wears, the pseudo self and adaptive behaviour for instance.
These descriptions and many others describe what has been formed on top of the real or true self. But, there is also opposition out there to the true self; with some people taking the position that no such thing exists. And this point of view is supported by the outlook that people are constantly changing and how their behaviour can change depending on the environment.
So through these changes taking place in ways that are seemingly insignificant and sometimes significant, the true self is seen as an illusion. And yet if someone is looking for something within that is fixed and never changes, then yes, the true self is surely going to be seen as nothing more than a phrase that sounds good.
This could the mean that a false self doesn’t exist either, and that one is simply behaving in ways that they have chosen. In this case, human beings would be nothing more than machines that have nothing going on within and are completely dependent on what the external world expects of them.
And while one is going to be influenced by what is going on in the external world and by the people that they associate with, it doesn’t mean that they are therefore a blank slate within.
Everything on this planet is in a constant state of change and nothing ever stays the same. And the true self is not something that is always the same and unaffected by life. How someone saw themselves at age twelve is generally going to be different to how they see themselves when they are or were twenty two.
This is to be expected and is a sign that they have grown and developed as a human being. However, just because someone can look back on their life and see that they have changed, it doesn’t mean that this change reflects what is true for them.
It could be an identity that they have become accustomed to and one that gains the approval and acceptance of others. Or it could be one that leads to their innermost needs and wants being fulfilled in most cases.
Here, one would act in ways that lead to them getting their needs and wants met. And these needs and wants are inevitably going to change over time and this means that how one defines their true self will also change.
It would also lead to one generally having people in their life who mirror how they see themselves. So some relationships that one has are going to last for a long time and others are going to burn out before too long.
One perspective is that this is down to a lack of loyalty or that one is unstable. But from another point of view, it could simply show that how one sees themselves has now changed and as a result of this, the relationship no longer validates who they are. So as the other person has stayed the same, one no longer feels the same connection.
And just because someone doesn’t change externally, it doesn’t mean that their identity is causing them to be happy and fulfilled in life. So they could have the same friends for years or not change how they come across and yet this could be nothing more than a mask.
The roles they play have become so familiar and comfortable that they have come to the conclusion that it is who they really are. But while these roles may feel comfortable and a safe way to live, they are nothing more than a false self.
So if the true self is the result of one listening to their wants, needs, desires and preferences for instance, then the false self would be the opposite of this. Ones point of focus would be on the external world and in doing what would lead to gaining the acceptance of others.
Their point of focus would be on pleasing other people and making sure they didn’t step out of line. And this doesn’t have to relate to strangers and people that one doesn’t know very well, it is also going to includes ones friends, family and acquaintances.
What is going on in their body could be a mystery, with their attention being stuck in their head. So their focus is then not on the inner world and what is true for them, it is on the outer world and what is true for others. Or what they think other people expect from them.
And what can stop one from getting into their body and becoming aware of their true needs and wants is when they have an emotional build up. One can end up living on the surface of themselves.
These trapped feelings and emotions can form a false self and through how powerful they are, one can lose all self control and the ability to make conscious choices in their life. And choices that will reflect their true wants and needs for instance.
So how one sees themselves and how they behave around others can be defined by their trapped emotions and feelings. As can their thoughts, feelings and what they say around others. This is likely to happen automatically and one can end up feeling as though this false self is who they are.
The emotional build up can be due to what has happened in ones adult life and go back to when they were children. And as they were not allowed to be expressed during the moments when they appeared, it meant that they stayed in one’s body.
And like parasites, they took over and infiltrated ones experience of life. These will need to be released and as this is done, one will be able to let go of their false self. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.