“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first pathway of Soul Archaeology is through Self Development. This pathway is a journey into discovering Authenticity at the deepest levels of self.

So what is a human “self”?

Let’s start by exploring what it means to be human.

Uniqueness of Self

There are almost 8 billion humans on the planet, and each one unique.

There is no one life form on earth exactly like you!

Your uniqueness shows up in many ways in your physical body, including fingerprints, retina and iris, ears, tongue…

Planet earth is also home to an estimated trillion other species.

So what else makes humans unique from each other and all other species besides the physical body?

Unique Personality

We know that each human being is a unique combination of physical characteristics, attributes and internal qualities, some of which are observable and some are not. The word “personality” is generally used to refer to this set of unique qualities in each person.

Each person’s personality contains patterns they are born with and some patterns they learned from the environment. Research shows about 45% of five personality trait patterns are inherited from parents.

However inheriting patterns of personality (called “predispositions”) does not remove individual responsibility to choose to your actions, such as whether to harm another person.

For example, research on aggression suggests that a tendency to respond to conflict with fighting is due in part to an inherited component (as well as learned behaviors) from parents. Yet, a person still retains a choice in each moment as to whether they yell, swear, or hit another another human being or not. They may feel out of control and playing out the same program over and over again, but in fact there is another quality of being human that is able to become aware of the programming and choose not to act it out any longer: self-awareness.


Self-awareness is a capacity to observe your self as an external object, as you would observe any other person.

But what is the “self” that you are observing?

Now there is an interesting question!!!

Multiple layers of your self exist…

and which part is the you that is observing the other parts of you?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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, connectedpresence, patience, perspective, persistence, playful, stillness, silent knowing, wholeness.