Identifying with the Self: Part Two 

 I had a counseling session with one of my clients.  She is a cutter and was questioning whether or not she would be getting any better in her life.  She was comparing herself with others who also receive therapy and who seem to be getting better faster. My client thought she was not improving like she should and asked about the concept of PTSD and resistance to treatment.

I try to explain to her that PTSD involves living in the past after a traumatic experience… versus learning from the past without necessarily reliving the past.  When we experience PTSD , we tend get stuck in the past and not move forward.  When the pain is avoided then we continue to experience PTSD and continue to relive the past and experience an emotional cycle which is nourished by substance-abuse, self harming behavior, and depression.

On the other hand, when we learn about the past, we develop new skills and we develop new ways to cope with the upsetting memories.  One of the ways is to talk about it, process feelings, write about it, and accept the fact that the pain was done.   When we choose to develop new skills and process feelings by accepting the pain, then we begging to acknowledge that it was a difficult time in our life and be able to move forward with new skills.

And then there was the question of why she is still cutting when she’s in her 50s now, when most of the cutters are either teenagers or young adults.

Then a lightbulb turned on in my head. I asked my client who she would identify as and she could not answer the question.  She first said “I’m already in my 50s why am I asking this question now? ” Then I asked her to not think about her current age but to focus on the question itself : who am I?

The observation that most cutters are teenagers or young adults gave me the idea that, since she has always been dependent on others to tolerate her who she is and what to do with my life, that sounds almost like what teenagers and young adults do in the early lives.

Basically my client is experiencing what most teenagers and young adults experience : finding their identities in life, facing the unknown after depending on the parents.  My client said she always depended on her parents and she was taking care of and nourished as a child even during her adulthood.  This can explain why she has difficulty identifying who she is now in her 50s. I explained that most of us experience the same identity crisis in different times of our lives. Most of us identify with what we have been assigned to be, for example our names, our ethnicity, our gender, and our religion. But we ultimately face a time in life, usually during young adulthood, where we start questioning  our assigned entities and find our own identities. And maybe that’s what my client is experiencing at the present moment.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, we mostly live inside our heads. Inside our thoughts and perceptions. We rarely get out of our thoughts and face reality. We don’t usually live in the present moment.  But we rather stay living inside our heads.  Inside our minds. But we rarely step aside and start perceiving ourselves as we really are.

Have the rest of us done the same thing in our lives?  Have we taken the bold step of “peeling the onion” all the way until we find our true selves?

In my own experience , that “true self” remains a mystery.  It remains a great part of the unknown, which is why I tend to ignore it and replace it with all the entities I have been taught to identify with.

I have learned to identify with being a Hispanic middle age male, an American, a mental health professional, a  Florida resident, a parent, a husband, a son, and many other entities.  All of these I can question and deny if I choose to.  What I have not identified with as much is what can never question or deny.

My true self.

But what is the true self?  Is it simply being human? Being a person? After all, isn’t that what we all have in common? Identifying with being Human beings ? Anything else could be used to separate and segregate us.  But being humans could only keep us united.

Life summarized 

This existence seems to be merely an awareness based on fabricated thoughts and individualized perceptions we call “reality” that dictates most of our behaviors.  This overall existence called “life” is mostly preferred over the notion of “death” because we usually don’t want to acknowledge the inevitable end of this perceived existence.

We choose what we believe, many times without realizing it, and continue our existence as if what we believe is an ultimate truth.   We deceive ourselves with fantasies and illusions that nourish our egos and makes us feel secure and important… but it is all an attempt to distract us from our destiny: death.

We tend to want to belong to some kind of group and community , creating societies, in order to feel secured and protected (trying to recreate the experience inside the womb).   But we often fail to realize and accept the fact that we are simply deceiving ourselves.  Unconsciously afraid of facing the reality of our mortality.

And because of this profound fear, we continue our journey of biased perceptions attempting to maintain a state of awareness we call “happiness”, not realizing that it depends solely on circumstances that we choose to cherish.

This existence is slowly decaying and shutting down.  This awareness will eventually cease to be present and we will  not even know it has happened.  All we can be aware of is what is experienced at the present moment.  Right now.

Think about it.

 

 

 

Life lessons (so far)

In my forty two years of existence I have  learned to live one day at a time.  I have reached a moment of existential crisis where I have started to question the basic belief system I have taken for granted.  These are the lessons I have learned (so far) in this existence we call life:

Be yourself (without trying to please others )

Be compassionate

I came alone in this world so I’ll be leaving on my own as well

I don’t owe anybody anything

I dont own anything , not even the body I find myself in.

The self may not even exist or be real

Be patient

Technology is mostly a misused instrument

I don’t have to explain anything to anyone if I don’t want to

Religion is a hoax (So is politics )

Detaching myself from thoughts and beliefs  that trigger old feelings of fear and sadness is the key to peace and joy.

It’s basically all in me head.

We love life mostly by identifying with the fabricated ego.

We hate death mostly because it is the path to the unknown (and its inevitable)

Identifying with a false entity, either an upsetting memory of past event (abusive past), a particular ethnic group, a disease or illness, political view, a belief system, an organization, or a fashion (just to name a few)  is what determines most of our personality and attitude (ego)  and, therefore, our behaviors.

This false identify can be changed with practice.

I will keep you posted on any other lessons on life.. thanks for reading .  

Trophies

 

What kind of trophy have you given yourself or wish to have?  We don’t have to participate in a sport game or any tournament in order to receive a trophy. They come in all forms.

We enjoy having trophies about pretty much everything in life.  We give ourselves a trophy when we adorned our homes  with pictures, wear fancy clothes, and hang certificates.  We also give ourselves trophies whenever we receive compliments through greeting cards and raises.

Our egos are nourished  when we receive or give ourselves any of these kinds of trophies.  They are basically extensions of our egos.  And they help us feel special and inflated.  It encourages the false self that we like to identify with. Our trophies help to hide the flaws, the limitations, and the imperfections that shape our human nature.   It prevents us from having to look our selves in the mirror and be honest about our intentions.    Our trophies make us feel distracted and proud.  It makes us feel supernatural.

But what is the ultimate outcome of our trophies? Nothing at all. Because they are just a tool that amplifies our illusions. Our fantasises. They are empty decorations that will remain useless once we depart this earth. But in the mean time, we continue to fool ourselves by believing we are special and invisibles, through our trophies.