Tag Archives: Self-discovery

Who Am I? – Relationships ~ by Jaq White

tumblr_m18qllFj2T1qmemvwo1_500Continuing the theme of “Who am I?” today I’m going to focus on relationships. Often in a relationship, we can feel a bit lost. We’re told that relationships are a compromise, but we also need to make sure that we don’t make so many compromises that we end up asking “where did I go?”

We can lose oursleves pretty quickly in a relationship, for many reasons which I’m sure we’re all aware of. We may at some point find that we have agreed to an entire life plan, whether consciously or not, either to keep one person happy or, as a compromise whereby neither person is actually fulfilled.

One clue as to when this has occurred, is when people start to think “I have everything I always wanted but…” or “I am doing what I always wanted but….”

It is likely they may even only use the word “we” instead of “I”. Some people still use the word “we” years after a relationship has ended: “We went there.”  They stop seeing themselves as an individual, and in some cases, their memory only sees the other person, and their feelings about a place or situation is completely based on their memory of how that other person felt about it.

Paulo Coello has summed this up brilliantly in a passage in his book The Zahir.

“Marie, let’s suppose that two firemen go into a forest to put out a small fire. Afterwards, when they emerge and go over to a stream, the face of one is all smeared with black, while the other man’s face is completely clean. My question is this: which of the two will wash his face?”

“That’s a silly question. The one with the dirty face of course.”

“No, the one with the dirty face will look at the other man and assume that he looks like him. And, vice versa, the man with the clean face will see his colleague covered in grime and say to himself: I must be dirty too. I’d better have a wash.’What are you trying to say?’I’m saying that, during the time I spent in the hospital, I came to realize that I was always looking for myself in the women I loved. I looked at their lovely, clean faces and saw myself reflected in them. They, on the other hand, looked at me and saw the dirt on my face and, however intelligent or self-confident they were, they ended up seeing themselves reflected in me thinking that they were worse than they were. Please, don’t let that happen to you.”

This is akin to the Jungian concept of the animus/anima. Author and Psychologist Peter O’Connor explains this beautifully, when he writes that “Narcissistic and idealised longings for paradise exist in all human beings”. He explains that we often project the qualities of this fantasy person who fulfills our every need, onto real mortals with whom we “fall” in love. If we lack self-awareness, we don’t understand that we were or are seeing this person as a symbolic expression of part of ourselves. Some people never realise this, and insist that the other person has “changed” if they begin to express themselves in ways that don’t fit this idealised version.

Another analogy Coelho uses is that of a railway track. The two tracks are always the same distance apart, no matter how the route twists and turns, both have to go side by side, exactly the same distance. Do relationships have to be like railroad tracks? Who says?

As I’ve written in some of my earlier blog posts, when we learn to Know Ourselves, understand ourselves and love ourselves, we learn the purest kind of love, and we can bring that unconditional love into our relationships with friends and with partners/lovers.

Paulo Coelho’s The Zahir is a wonderful example of how one man comes to learn this.

I’ll finish this with some of his words:

“Esther asked why people are sad. “That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”

[if people ask themselves why they are unhappy] “If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

“Esther, however, was the only woman who understood one very simple thing: in order to be able to find her, I first had to find myself.”

Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

Who am I? The False Self and the True Self by Jaq White

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Continuing on from my previous blog post Who Am I? All the World’s a Stage and All the Men and Women Merely Players

In the Natural World, we can observe a harmony that is at the same time both simple, and yet sophisticated.  We see different insects, plants, trees and creatures evolving into their own sophisticated form of life in order to maximise their chance of survival, and to find their own unique place in the eco-system. Different species rely on each other, and sustain each other.

There are of course conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies.

In the human world, things are no different; we are very sophisticated life forms, with  the same conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies. The difference is, above and beyond the natural way of things, we have also created our own very sophisticated conflicts, false hierarchies, and have created a system whereby we cause entire sections of our own species to struggle to survive, in many cases simply to sustain others.

What is the cause of our living  increasingly  out of harmony with even our own species and out of balance with the rest of the eco-system?

At birth we are unaware of any divisions in life, but as we become more self-aware and aware of our surroundings, we learn our name, who belongs to our family, our group, our town, our country. In many respects, this is the same among other life forms, and can be useful for helping us to fit in with our culture and to become a useful and productive member of our own society. However, to these we can add the particularly human traits that we choose to believe to be part of our identity – “I am a doctor” or even things such as “I read this newspaper” and “I go to see these types of films”, “This is my enemy, this is my friend”, “I need this, I don’t need that”.

As we become adults, we are now fully conditioned by our family, teachers, friends and society, and are keenly aware of the qualities we have which are considered weaknesses by society, and those which are considered strengths. We are judged or praised, rewarded or punished depending on our emotions and actions; we learn to ignore or hide the parts of our self that are not approved of, or do not fit in with our culture or society’s conditioning and programming. This is reinforced by so many people around us, that we come to believe that this is all I can be, and we forget or bury the other aspect of ourselves.

In many disciplines, this self is considered the false self. What can make it even more difficult, is if we are also aware that this self we are presenting to the world IS false.  In the outside world, we may think we need this false self to fit in with the system, trying to go about our business within society just as others do but inside, privately we have remained in touch with some aspect of our true self underneath the false self. We may have lived as this false self for so long that we may also not approve of what we percieve to be our true self, due to the conditioning. We even begin to think we are some kind of freak. We have learned not to trust, even doubting those who want the best for us, as we have been betrayed by others when we have confided our feelings or shown aspects of our true self to them. Is there a way back to the You that you already knew before you got so tied up in the physical world, in the expectations of society and the belief that it was the only way to exist or survive?

Yes, this conditioning and programming can be undone; it is a mistake to believe that it can’t.

We can start by unravelling our thoughts, each time we find ourselves thinking “I am this” or “I’m no good at that” “I can only do this in such a way”.  Ask yourself, do you REALLY believe that? And if so, why? Who told you that? or when did you decide that? Our thoughts are made up of stories; our mind contains so many stories from the past that shape our thinking and assumed beliefs – some from events that actually happened, and others that we made up ourselves at various points in our life, for protection or to boost our self-esteem. Because our mind has turned these thoughts into stories, we use this inner library to reference the way we act or approach the present, however much we might wish to behave differently.

By turning an inner light on these thoughts and stories, we can shed awareness on past conditioning, we can expand our consciousness and begin to rediscover and recover our true identity. We can then begin to rediscover the harmony that can be found with members of our own species, to rely on one another, to sustain one another, and even further, find our place within the eco-system. We have a choice.