How To Respond To A 3 Year Old Screaming Fit The True Self and the False Self – What and Why?

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The True Self and the False Self – What and Why?

If you’re not familiar with the terms “true self” and “false self” yet, you may be wondering what they mean.

The concept of the true self and the false self can be found in many psychological and spiritual circles, and can mean different things in each. The definition I am working with here is the following*:

U true self it is the heart of you that you are, the original you, unshaped by education or society. This is the state in which you were born and it is a state that still exists within you.

This does not mean that finding your true self means regressing to childhood – as you have grown physically, your true self has also grown. However, it is usually strongly guarded by the false self and, at first, could be difficult to reach.

Yours false self it can also be called your adapted self. These are the parts of you that have changed behavior, repressed needs and removed your needs to fit others.

This is an unconscious process that begins very young and is motivated by a basic desire to survive. From an incredibly young age, children can sense their mothers’ needs and adapt their own behavior to meet them, creating the beginnings of a false self.

*NB: I do not see the true self as a “higher self” or something that communicates with, relates to or equates to any divine figure. This is a purely rational exploration, based on planet Earth, not mystical.

Onions

Imagine that people are like onions. At the center is our true self, surrounded by layers that we have developed in our lives as protection. These layers are our false self.

The center of the onion needs these protective layers in order to survive.

Most of us also need our false selves as protection to survive childhood, and we carry these layers with us into our adult lives. Once, they were useful – they helped us survive. Now, however, they are no longer needed and may actually be more of a hindrance than a help.

Practical examples

The above may sound a bit abstract, so here are some examples of situations in which they encourage a false self to form:

1. Western expectations that real men don’t cry and well-mannered women don’t get angry – of course they do.

2. A 2-year-old boy plays with his mother’s necklace out of curiosity and is torn to “Don’t touch!”

3. Girls are given the message that personality and virtue do not mean much, if anything – however, the right weight and ‘look’ will help more in life.

4. An unhappy child is told to stop crying “I’m ashamed of myself. Make a scene. There is no reason to be upset. If a child is upset, there is always a reason and it is always important – however small it might seem to an adult.

None of the above are done. In fact, they are cultural norms.

You are not an onion

As children, our true selves are a kind of background. From day one, we are told not to feel this, that we should feel that and that other people always come first otherwise you are selfish.

The result of this is that we put other people’s feelings before our own, we imbue messy ideas of what is “expected” of us and we repress and reject who we really are deep down.

Now, it’s time to be selfish.

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