Who are you – beyond the one constructed to survive?

Recently, this summer, I spoke to someone very close to me and pointed out something that was difficult to say and difficult for the other person to hear. Sounds like an everyday kind of event, doesn’t it? What was important for me, though, was that I was not speaking from my usual self. To speak up I had to become deeply present in my body and contact a place of courage and clarity that does not exist in what I’m calling “my usual self.” My remarks opened up whole new avenue of closeness and openness with this dear person, but we first had to work with emotions that arose on both sides.

These emotions and feelings—vulnerability, hurt, helplessness, despair—are what my “usual self” was designed to avoid. In a personal inquiry several weeks later, I had the insights that I am reporting to you now. At that moment, I felt the historic importance of building such a self to protect me from attacks from my parents, to ensure that I would get along in social situations like school, and overall establish a part of me that felt somewhat in charge with some sense of power. Naturally, underneath my “usual self” were the strong, somatically felt beliefs that I was powerless and unworthy—you know, the kind of things that parents will say to teach a child, correct a child, or to keep a child in line so that the parents are not uncomfortable or embarrassed, and that the child takes into his body/mind as true.

I did not want to be the target/receiver of these behaviors from my parents, so I brought forward a someone who could be the necessary way, act the necessary way, say the necessary things and avoid everything else. After a while, this persona became the way I’d identified myself. This felt sense of who I was got protected internally by my inner critic and externally by the coping strategies of my personality, which centrally were an acted-out insistence that everyone I interacted with took my persona to be me.

Of course, many of you know the theoretical basis of what I’m writing about. And that knowing can be very helpful. But it’s quite a different matter to directly encounter and step away from the “usual self,” our persona, and find a quiet, centered, unified self who can act boldly and is precisely in tune with what is happening.

It’s a moment of freedom and homecoming.

I’m writing to invite you into your own exploration. Who is it that you are insisting on being that is in fact a constructed persona? (You will find your persona as the one who gets insulted, or the one you are protecting with your defensive justifications.)

The chance to be genuine, powerful and at home in the world begins with this study and ends … who knows where.

New Ventures West