True Self/False Self Part 3: What is the True Self?
RecapSo far, we’ve talked about the false self. This is something we all have, to varying degrees and effects. The healthy false self allows us to function in society by working with the true self to put down personal boundaries and protect it in situations where vulnerability wouldn’t be appropriate or the true self might get hurt.By the time most of us are adults, the true self is buried underneath layers of false self, sometimes to the point where it can’t be felt or seen at all.This isn’t bad or wrong. It just is. However, the false self is not always helpful to us as adults. As we become more aware of our behaviour, thoughts and feelings, it will be easier to differentiate between the true self and the false self.The Origins of the True SelfThe true self is you, unaffected by familial or cultural restraints. Developmental theory says that the division between the two selves begins very early in life, long before we can remember.When born, babies do not view themselves as separate from their mothers. They need their mothers to respond to their needs for survival. If the mother does this, then the baby can develop a secure sense of self during the next phase of development, when it starts to view its mother as a separate being.However, if the baby’s needs are not met then it will never be able to achieve independence. Instead, the false (or adapted) self is created to help the baby get its needs fulfilled using alternative means. The True Self in AdultsDepending on your upbringing and personality, our true selves are accessible with varying degrees of ease. Some people will find it easier to recognise which feelings and emotional states are true self, and which are from history.The true self isn’t an ocean of calm. It is emotionally expressive, able to experience and sit with feelings without necessarily acting on them, even negative ones. There are no such things as ‘bad feelings’. Feelings are feelings.The difference between the true self and the false self, is that the latter is pure you. Not you altered by negative childhood experiences, not you conforming to societal expectations but just you.‘The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.’ -Anonymous