First of all, what is the True Self? Here are just two definitions from two different worlds, the psychological and spiritual:
- Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott has an absolutely beautiful definition. “The True Self is a sense of being alive and real in one's mind and body, having feelings that are spontaneous and unforced. This experience of aliveness is what allows people to be genuinely close to others, and to be creative…The False Self is a defense, a kind of mask of behavior that complies with others expectations.” If you go to 2:49 (2 minutes and 49 seconds) of this video, you will see a bit more about Winnicott’s interesting research.
- Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra sees the True Self as the purest part of yourself that has incredible power and wisdom. He has clear guidelines as to what the True Self feels like and it’s qualities. When you are connected to your True Self, you feel secure, accepted, peaceful and certain. Qualities of the True Self are: clarity, certainty (about things), stability, drive towards a deep sense of truth, peace, love. You can learn more about Deepak’s perspective by clicking here. Here’s a video where Deepak speaks about the True Self and the Ego.
I see the above definitions as the same, coming from different perspectives and explaining different aspects of the True Self. I define the True and False Self as follows:
- True Self: Spirit, Love, Constructive self (all mean the same thing). It is what we ultimately are deep inside of ourselves. The less we have exercised our muscles to connect and listen to our True Self, the deeper it is within us, waiting for us to listen.
- Destructive Self: Ego and Fear. This is what is often front and center in our lives and in our interactions. When we come from Ego we attack others. When we come from Fear we care more about others than ourselves. Our Destructive self puts us down and has us play small.
How can we connect to our True Self so that we make sure that is the self we are listening to and acting from? For sure it is a lot of work. It’s so much easier to behave from our Destructive Self. Yet, the more we practice connecting and listening to our True Self, the easier it becomes (until one day you only behave from this place!). This is how I do it:
- I ask myself: What do I want? Why? I am constantly asking myself this question in any situation. I’ll give you an easy example. A while back, I was deciding how to balance a 4-day seminar I had traveled to while visiting family in a different city. I asked myself:
- What do I want? "I want to go to the seminar and spend time with my family"
- Why? “I want to learn new strategies (love)…If I don’t go to the seminar I will fall behind in my learning (fear)…I want to build new memories with my family (love)…I do not want to offend my family by ignoring them (fear)...” As you can see, there is some love and some fear mixed up in these answers. We only want to make decisions from love at all times. So each day, as I attended a session, I made sure I was going because I wanted to learn new strategies, not because I was scared that if I missed a session, I was doomed. And each time I decided to skip a session in the seminar, I made sure I was doing it because I wanted to create a new memory with my family, not because I was scared they were going to judge me.
- I ask myself: What would love do? This builds on the point above. When my answers are all fearful, I ask myself, what would be the response coming from a place of love. It’s like a super-fast, clear connection line to my True Self. Try it right now. Think of a person you might be having a hard time with and ask “What would love do?”. I guarantee that if you drill down enough, you will hear your True Self say “Listen”, “Back off”, “Give space”, “Call and apologize”.
- I look for the truth and light. Many of you know, my spirituality is foundational to me. Thus in those moments that I do not know quite what to do, I ask that higher power (God, The Universe, whatever you may choose to call it), to show me the truth in any given situation. I constantly want to see the truth, even if the truth is something that is scary or not ideal for me. The truth could be that a person you are dealing with is behaving from their own Ego/Fear and that the most loving thing for you to do is to speak with them on another day.
- I meditate. This is a daily practice that allows me to quiet the thoughts and emotions in my mind and connect to my True Self. Here’s my most recent articles: How to mediate (click here), How to build a meditation practice (click here); and the benefits of meditation (click here)
- I practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s going on in our heads at any given moment throughout the day. It is accessed through meditation. Yet, when you are aware of what’s going on in your head, you can make a decision from love and not fear. Here’s an awesome video on mindfulness from Happify and Dan Harris, two sources I am really liking these days!
I truly hope this helps.
I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. Do you know someone who would benefit from getting closer to their True Self? Share this post with them.
Lots of love,