A practical definition of self

“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)
  • Memories
  • 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”.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

2 Responses to A practical definition of self

  1. Pingback: Lacan | Pennsylvania Echoes

  2. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    Boot_strapping it — Getting a sense of one’s
    practical self and Core —

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