What I have observed over the last decade, without casting blame on the usual suspects… excessive media sources, peer pressure, technological uses with out concern for ethics… is the possibility of many individuals feeling fragmented, polarized or ambivalent. This trend will probably continue for a long time. Some are looking for just a starting point to the address the question “Who am I?”
“Who I am” is a slowly evolving and rigorously tested concept for me. This is the development of the “healthy self concept” which I think is central to my health and wellness management over the years.
The following is a repost from April of 2011:
“In the widest sense possible, mans Self: is the sum total of all he can call his,
not only body and psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and his friends,his reputations and works, his lands and his horses, and yacht and bank account. All these things give him the same emotions.
-William James psychologist, later pragmatist (principles of psychology).
In James definition any physical and psychic interaction one can claim is part ones self.
I would narrow my definition of “self” to:
a constructed organization or gestalt of mind/ body, that may include an integration of:
- Interests – likes, dislikes, concerns
- Values – principles, ideas held as important and meaningful
- Beliefs – that which I hold true
- Sex, Gender, and orientation
- Strengths and limitations (real and perceived)
- basic needs , capacities and drives.
- Biology:- from hormones to Nervous system to Dna
…that is both stable and vital in influencing the processes of how I live and
is permeable and subject to slow change of growth and withdraw, as I live.
Why bother to define an object-like “Self”?…
I have heard fellow newcomers to mental health management, describe themselves as if their personalities were pulled by strong up mood to down mood; Feeling they were different one day to the next, or feeling fragmented….
Wondering if they can find an answer to the important question: “Who Am I?”
My answer would be “I start by stating a few of values, interests, strengths, needs”
these traits tend to be more stable for many people than mood or situation.
Defining ” my- self” is a pragmatic solution, because it gives me a stable answer to question “who am I?” in understanding my expressions and interactions .
Loosely, “Self” is a core or center of being, a way to describe to say “Who I am” with an important sense of control in sometimes fast paced changing world. My self is Me.
Zen “True Self” and Being
In Zen, the “every day Self” or “True self’“, is defined as happening in present moment. It is “Who one is” in the present moment. In Zen the self is also doing. For example If I am riding a bike, My True Self is “I am riding”.
Although , I believe a persons “Being” is best described as: “doing” in the present moment or experience”, It is impractical not to differentiate self from doing or Being, at times, as situations and actions change to rapidly, day to day… moment to moment.
It is important to be able to distinguish self from other (organism from environment) in “Being” as it is to realize the connection. Being is always changing. Action and experience are always changing. “Me” or my self, always changing also but it is more the far more stable components of Being than former.
As I continue explore, defined and refine myself I gain with
- ability to choose “what is me” and “what is not me”
- greater capacity of reason, emotion and relativeness
- greater autonomy in decisions I make
- repeated testing in reality of core components of me
- greater confidence in “what is me”, “who I am”
What I describe as “me” or my self directly influences my real time processes of such thinking, feeling, acting and is affected (and ultimately tested) by these processes.
My self … or “What is me” is just one integral part of ” I am being“, but a relatively stable descriptions in comparison to flux and range interactions and expression.
In practical terms, “What is me” or “myself” differs from “what is mine” in that the self has more importance in “how I am being” and therefore is more meaningful in Being or living.
In conclusion the self or “What is me” is different than “What I possess“. Understanding how “What I s me” influences “How I am being” in the present centered moment, may give a better sense of wholeness and stability in Being and an answer to “Who I am”.