Do you know who you are? Do you know which “you” it is that you live from each day? You may be saying, “What are you talking about? There is only one me. It’s not like I have a split personality or anything.” Are you sure about that? If you are like most people, you may not be running your daily affairs like you think you are after all. Chances are, at least some of the time, it’s another “you” who’s calling the shots. You just might have yourself – your true self – confused with someone who isn’t you. Let me explain…
I’ve been there too. It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me recently, and really dug into, that I’ve been able to separate from this “false me” and begin living from my true self – who is “hidden with Christ in God.”
Arrested Development…our own personal sitcom?
Have you heard of the term “arrested development?” No, I’m not actually talking about the comedy sitcom on TV. This is a psychological/emotional phenomenon when a part of one’s “self” is held back at some younger age, usually due to a traumatic experience. Anneli Rufus writes, in an article on psychologytoday.com, “We are stuck in the past not usually by choice but because, like dud popcorn kernels or bonsai trees, we failed to grow. The ones who were supposed to show us how to grow did not. They did not know or were not there. Or traumas he’d us in their grip. Portals inscribed with mystical initiation-signs glimmered, awaiting us, but no: we wandered back the other way or balked.”
I believe most everyone deals with arrested development to some degree. This is one of the contributing factors that make up the “womb” from which the “false self” is born.
(By the way, if this sounds like “psychobabble” to you – I promise it’s not! This is very relevant to our journeys with God and with others, and just for being human to begin with!)
The false self lives in the future and the past – never in the present tense – and always lives in fear, crippling fear. This “self” is the very product of fear. The false self can also be referred to as the ego. We cling to the trauma or joys of the past, and fear that the bad will repeat and the good will never come again. This fear is the root of many unhealthy coping mechanisms, and the birthplace of “sinful” behavior – that which causes harm to ourselves and others, and which violates Love.
The false self develops as a way to cope with hurt, harm, and other ways life doesn’t “work well” for us. We might learn to manipulate, or present ourselves in a certain way. Some become victims of their circumstances, while others are driven to “succeed” or “measure up” through performance. Regardless of what “shape” our false self takes, it is still not the real us.
Your true self is the very image, likeness, and expression of God. The real you is the one who was “birthed” in the thoughts of God in eternity past, out of perfect love, lacking nothing, and immune to fear, offense and shame. Your true self exists in the present tense, is fully capable and aware, and exists in perfect “tune” and oneness with God and others. In the core of your being, you are always your true self, even through you might not be “awake” to this in your conscious mind. If you’re anything like I was, the only “self” you think you know might not be you at all – but the false self that developed so you could deal with the pressures of life.
I have some great news for you. Even though we may not have been given the help we needed along the way to fully grow, or we experienced trauma that has held us back, we are not victims. We are not doomed to live from the false self. We do not have to live from fear of failure, or loneliness, or lack. We do not have to live from fear at all. We have the power to discover and unveil our true self, free from unhealthy coping mechanisms and behavior, and live from the fullness of who we were created to be.
In my next post, I’ll tell you a bit about my journey of (true)self-discovery so far, and share some of what I’ve learned about loving and even “parenting” our false selves so we can grow into freedom.