The Crux of Self – Part I

We hear millennials raving about “self-care”, “self-discovery”, “self-love”. We hear the saying “be yourself”.They all revolve around one core thing “self”. Since this entire series is based on self-discovery, I figured I’d reveal my findings on ‘self’ first.

There are numerous definitions and explanations of ‘self’.I figured I wanted to get a broader perspective, so I kept an account of all the definitions I came across.

There is the generic definition where self is defined as “a person’s essential being that differentiates them from others.” Self can also be “an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness.”

In the sphere of religion and spirituality, there is a dividing line when it comes to defining the self . On one end is the ego – which is identified as the superficial/learned self and on the other end the Self /true self- which is identified as the observing self/witness.

As often as not, spirituality links self with seeking for the “meaning of life” and with behaviours that are in accordance with the individual’s core values. Buddhism considers the “attachment to self as an illusion that serves as the main cause of suffering and unhappiness.” Christianity makes a distinction between the true self and false self. The false self is misinterpreted, and perceived to be. “distorted through sin.”

Diving into psychological realms is where it starts getting interesting. Seeking out your ‘true self’ is primarily the ego’s way of attempting “to find out some kind of knowledge or experience.”The dimming of the ego’s presence-when thoughts subside, is momentary -creates room for “a deeper ‘knowing’.” Only in silence, when the ego is not present and acting, can you really tell that the ego is not the true self.It is merely then that it is evident that you still exist irrespective of the ego existing.

Extending the experience of  “no thoughts”, it becomes clearer that the real you/true self is “not the pattern of thought, habitual desires/fears, quirks and personality traits” that we consider ourselves to be. The ego ceases to prevail, and this indicates that the true self is “a deeper sense of presence or being that is constant and ever-present.” When this is reverted and thoughts reappear, so does the ego.

It is then simple for the ego, which is who we normally take ourselves to be, to “co-opt this experience and make the non-conceptual sense of Being into intellectual knowledge.”

The Crux of Self


One quote from Eckhart Tolle

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”

This truly resonated with me. Who am I kidding all of Tolle’s words have resonated with me. But this, reading his words on finding your “true self”, really managed to bring me new perspectives.

Though it might be cliché, I’ve resorted to using the analogy of Russian nesting dolls to represent people’s constituents from my findings. The bigger doll would be the person as a whole. Nested in that would be a false self/ego doll and in that a  true self/ Being doll.

When we work on the growth of the whole person doll the results are evident in our individual values and abilities and is exhibited in our skills and behaviours. Meaning growth that arises from our experience and personal history, cultural identity and personal values, emotional and cognitive intelligence as well as physical and mental health. Working on the growth of the Being doll and the ego doll though is a lengthy process to describe here so I’ll be doing another post on that next time.  I’ll wrap part 1 on self here for now.

Prior to doing this exploration, I was unaware of the depths of self that exist. Now though I have managed to wrap my head around self. It’s really fascinating how many thorough discoveries have been made about self. It’s also really interesting how self-has piqued the interest and curiosity of so many people, including myself.  How much about self-did you know prior to reading this post? Anything you’d like to share about the self that I never mentioned in this post? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments down below.

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