“How do I find my self?”
To answer this question-first we would have to define “self.”
Defining something has always been difficult for me, but that struggle has translated into developing a varied perspective.
Let’s start with a simple approach; is my “self” what I feel, what I think, what I experience or how I appear? Is it how others perceive me? Is it what others reveal to me or how I connect with others? There may be even more approaches to the “self.” Let’s think our way through each of these hypothetical approaches to the self.
If self is “what I feel”, then it is constantly changing, since we have a variety of feeling tones. So, we may have happy self, sad self, angry self and so on.
If it’s connected with what I think, then it could be: how my mind perceives, processes, and imagines ideas, putting them in language and symbols: The final product is what I say, do, or write.
If self is what I experience, then it could be pleasant, unpleasant, toxic, stifling, despondent, hopeful, hopeless, helpless or uplifting and so on.
If self is my body,then it could be tall, short, white, black, beautiful, ugly, young, old, sick or healthy.
Is self located within myself or outside myself? I think most of us believe it’s something internal—but what if it is external to us, when we encounter others? Could it be like a halo that envelops us , and where all things outside of us converge—people, things, trees, animals, earth, sky and beyond.
The question of defining “self” can be pretty destabilizing! Similar to what the fellow Christians might have felt, when Galileo Galilei denounced“the church’s unchangeable truth,that earth is at the center of the universe.” This is what the leading thinkers on this topic of “self” face!
We want to see ourselves as cohesive and stable at the “core” , much like the pit of a cherry- but maybe it’s more of a scattered concept. Some psychoanalysts have stressed the importance of living through this “multiplicity of selves” rather than trying to encapsulate one’s psychic world into cohesiveness. What they mean in simpler terms is tolerance for “situational” selves and not looking for the continuity of self.
If that is so, then perhaps Jim Carrey in “Me, Myself and Irene” portrayed a universal struggle rather than that of a schizophrenic.
The quest for knowing our self is worthwhile and heroic if we are willing to risk our convictions and the security of feeling solid!
If you would like more resources on “self”and locating one’s self, leave a comment below and I can direct you to some interesting resources.