In the world of psychology and self realisation there are two terms that are often mentioned. And these are known as the true self and the false self. One usually comes to understand what is true about oneself, as a consequence of becoming aware of what is not true. By seeing the contrast or space between these two options; it becomes possible for one to gain a clearer perspective.
Where Do I Begin?
This sounds like a fairly simple approach, but what if one has no idea of what there false self is? And what if one has no awareness of oneself? And perhaps there is just a sense of something not being right in one’s life.
I have come to see that there are general patterns that are in operation here and that by becoming aware of these common patterns, it is then possible to pinpoint what is true and what is not true about who one is.
And as with most things in life, this is a process and doesn’t happen overnight, but with perseverance and patience amazing things can happen.
Something Is Not Right
Although the feeling that something is not right can be sensed, it might not even be as specific and as clear as that. There could be a feeling that life is just happening and that there is a disconnection between what is happening and what one would like to happen.
This is if one is aware of their feelings and in tune with their needs and wants. Here one could just feel emotionally numb and even experience moments of depression.
This is an experience that one can have at any time of their life. And perhaps this is what has created occurrences like the ‘mid life crises’ in our society.
It would be easy to assume that someone with a false self is neither confident nor empowered; this is not always the case. The false self can come across in two ways. Someone with a false self can come across as confident and empowered; just as easily as they can come across as unconfident as disempowered.
The individual that is the high achiever and highly confident may appear to be the antithesis of the low achiever and may seem to be extremely different, but this could be a cover up. And the only reason that this behaviour exists is to defend against facing what is actually going on within.
Their sense of self seems to be very strong and can come across as though they know who they are.
Other people are likely to admire and validate these people. With society often giving them all types of awards and accolades for what they have achieved.
Here we can come across an individual that is not empowered or confident in their abilities. And when it comes to their behaviour they can be perceived as the followers of the world and not the leaders.
Their sense of self appears to be nonexistent and that they have very little idea about who they are or what they want from life.
And unlike the high achiever; this person is unlikely to receive anything like what the high achiever does in terms of approval and validation. In comparison, this person may feel ignored and insignificant.
On the surface the low achiever has nowhere near the kind of joy and admiration that the higher achiever gets. We have all seen the pop star or the film star that can at one moment appear to have it all and in the next moment they are checking into rehab or some kind of clinic.
So what we see within each of these extremes is that one has become cut off and alienated from what it is that would make them happy and fulfilled. Their real feelings, wants and needs are being largely ignored. And how appearances can be deceiving and that the face that one shows to the world is not always accurate in how one feels inside.
It is clear that one of these sides gets significant approval and acknowledgment from others and the other option does not. One can have a whole personality; way of behaving and relationships that don’t express who one truly is on the inside.
The Invisible Prison
What is it that stops one from looking inside, and getting in touch with what they want and need to feel connected to themselves? I believe that this is because of the invisible prison that ego the mind creates.
The ego mind main priority is to be safe and that usually means keeping everything the same. It is through this familiarity that it feels safe. And what is perceived as familiar and safe, is usually created during ones childhood.
If one has not looked at what happened in those younger years and has no awareness; it is highly likely that one will regress to those stages in their present life. And in these situations ones survival would have been based on gaining the approval and acceptance of ones caregivers.
It is here that one’s own feelings, needs and wants can become repressed and lost. One of the reasons for this is that one’s own caregivers had been out of touch with their own inner needs and this was probably because their caregivers were the same. So the caregivers end up being emotionally underdeveloped and use their child as a way to fulfil their own needs. The child then has to ignore these needs to take care of the caregivers needs. By doing this the child receives acceptance and approval and ensures its own survival.
So where as the low achiever may have been used to fulfil the caregiver’s needs in a way that was directly related, the high achiever may have taken care of the needs that were indirectly connected. By this I mean that the child gained the acceptance and approval of the caregiver by fulfilling their needs in a different manner.
Perhaps the Childs high achievement covered up the family’s feelings of not having achieved enough, and then used their child to improve and cover up their own dysfunctional image.
The Adult Child
And once these associations have been formed, it then becomes natural for the child to grow up doing what gains the most approval and acceptance of other people; all at the expense of their own forgotten wants and needs.One may even feel guilty and ashamed if they were to follow their own needs.
Of course the present situations may have very little to do with one’s own survival, but unless one has the awareness to see that there is a difference, one will regress and perceive the present as if it is the past.
In each of these scenarios we can see that one’s own development was affected through ones caregivers not accepting them for who they are. And at the root of it all, this is likely to be consequence of their dysfunctional childhood. This has probably been passed on from one generation to another.
What one can do is come to accept oneself and get back in touch with these repressed wants and needs. This is possible through awareness and by realising that one is not the mind. And these memories of the past have to be looked at and processed.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, 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.