As science shows us, each human is a unique being, living among billions of other unique human beings.
Beyond our physical uniqueness, is there more to being human?
In our society, the experience of being a unique human is called “self”.
What do we know about our human self based on scientific research?
- Our uniqueness continues through deeper layers of self: physical, mental, emotional, experiential.
- Humans are social animals, interdependent and interconnected.
- Humans are designed with unique creative capacities: to make tools, create languages, music, construct buildings, planes, spaceships…
Learning about the self is a journey into discovering authenticity at the deepest levels of existence.
Why engage in self-discovery?
What is the “self”?
The word “self” refers to your unique existence, being, experience, and expression.
Self-awareness is a capacity to observe your self as an external object, as you would observe any other person.
Multiple layers of self exist…
For simplicity, I present the self as three primary layers:
Core Essence – Experiential Self – Socialized Self
The socialized self is most easily identified by its narratives, stories and meanings, thinking in language and words.
The experiential self contains non-languaged experience and a full range of emotions, including feelings of vulnerability, hurt, and pain.
The essence is the unique qualities and soul design, before socialization and life experiences conditioned the human’s physical body into patterned responses.
What is the socialized self?
From the moment you are born, the people around you begin to teach you how to behave in the environment in which you have arrived. They talk to you in certain ways, use a particular tone of voice and project certain emotions toward you when you do something that pleases them, and express other emotions and facial expressions when you do something that upsets them. They dress you in certain types of clothing (and not other types). they send you to school and tell you what is acceptable behavior at home and school and what is not. They reward good behavior that fits in their expectations and punish behavior that does not.
This is called socialization.
As a human goes through this process of socialization, s/he is conditioned through rewards and punishments administered by others and this continues for the rest of their lives. At first it is the parents and caretakers who apply the rewards and punishments, then school teachers, police, then a boss at work, as well as government officials.
Unfortunately, there are three side effects to this socialization process:
- People detune from the essence of who they really are..in order to fit into the environment they live, so they can feel safe, cared for, and able to perform in ways that is rewarded and not punished by the others. Once people are adults, these rewards are primarily related to finances, because money is needed to buy even the basic water and food needed for survival every day, so money has become a substitute for nature (water and food) in “developed” economic societies.
- They disconnect from their body and feeling sensations. Each child learns how to disconnect from the hurt they feel due to vulnerability and not receiving love, care, attention, warmth, holding, and protection a young child depends on. As a child grows into an adult, the pain causes most people to become less sensitive to feeling their vulnerabilities, hurts, and emotions. They have learned to desensitize and numb, distract, cover over, pretend, or control emotions such as fear, terror, anger, sadness and grief.
- Each person builds a socialized self, a set of strategies to survive and succeed in their society and it becomes a mask they show others. The socialized self develops in response to hurt that is experienced, especially in the first 20 years of life. The socialized self serves as protection and defense system…to avoid feeling pain, shame, and any emotions that were punished. Eventually this “self” becomes all that a person is aware of in adult life, and thus the source of their identity. However, it is a kind of false version of self, designed to cover over the hurt by using control strategies to navigate social life and feel good.
The process of socialization in our human society creates layers within a human being’s sense of self.
To discover true essence requires a willingness to go back through the layers, clarifying the strategies of the socialized self and letting go of many of its protective mechanisms, in order to feel the actual emotions that the hurt experiential self contains. Willingness to feel vulnerable and begin to feel the full range of human emotion are first steps.
The benefit of this journey?
Besides experiencing authenticity and integrity at the soul level, which feels better than any manufactured form of positivity, gratitude, or love, the most common qualities of essence people report as their higher/deeper Self emerges are: calm, clarity, compassion, curiosity, confidence, courage, creativity, connected, presence, patience, perspective, persistence, playful, stillness, silent knowing, wholeness.