|Visit Emily McDowell's webpage here|
‘Finding yourself’ is not really how it works.
You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket.
You are also not lost.
Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are.
‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself.
An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.
I checked out a bit of Emily McDowell's story. In her twenties, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Now, in her early 40s, she authors and decorates what she calls, "Greeting cards and gifts for the relationships we really have." Clearly she is an extraordinary person whose experience changed her life and the way she sees the world. Not satisfied with simply living her own life differently, she helps others to understand or, at least, send more understanding messages to those in life challenging situations.
The quote above says something about the return to self that has been chronicled in this blog. I recognized what I called my façade. At first it seemed that although it wasn't something I liked about myself, I would try to maintain that façade; that was the title of this blog for some time actually - "Maintaining the Façade"
As Emily suggests, I unlearned and excavated myself. In retrospect, I can see times in my youth where I might have challenged the world. Instead, I helped the world bury that true person.
It would be pleasant to think that the person I am now is somehow a reflection of whom I might have been without that conditioning. I am, instead, a reflection of a different sort of conditioning, self-imposed in order to be happy now. Where the façade felt wrong, who I present to the world now feels right and good.
Along the way, I have learned so much and have found family and a partner whom I love and who love me.
By what might be called, in a huge over-simplification, a fortunate set of circumstances, I have returned to myself.
I am home.
I very much like the idea you have exposed that you are now at home in yourself. It reminds me of when I visited Africa, ‘Welcome home’, was oft the exclamation from strangers.
Of course my reaction was to ask what do you you mean! The explanation was to associate their country with the birth of civilisation, from when we came, so as to welcome you back home.
Whilst philosophically, the very idea of an authentic true self barely passes muster, granted even it is an illusion, it can be a very useful measure. Believing in oneself helps anchor your personal identity of self-worth, to shake off the pressure to conform and can lead to one pursuing a less materialistic pathway.
So that either to a lesser or greater degree we all engage in some form of introspection, shaped by our experiences, and our self evolves to be what it is today, quite different to what it was when we started out in our youth. But I get what is meant, as in the facade we adopt, to just fit in, which denies our self as such, to cause all the angst and misery that state can bring about.
Coming home is a great analogy because I do believe that our social conditioning plays a huge role in moving us away from our core identity. It is only when we find the bravery to strip away the imposed facade that we become truly honest again by returning to the roots of who we really are.ReplyDelete
There was a moment when I sensed something like despair in this post; "....I am, instead, a reflection of a different sort of conditioning...." I do not think that the removal, or stripping away, of denial, of conditioning constitutes a different sort of conditioning. Why? Because it is part of the process of becoming more authentic, of drawing closer to the Christic Self. We are not engaged here on building yet more illusion upon illusion in order to feel good about ourselves. Indeed, the path to Truth must pass through a great deal of crap where we feel anything but good about ourselves.ReplyDelete
If it is true that, "philosophically, the very idea of an authentic true self barely passes muster, granted even it is an illusion," one wonders why one ever bothers to follow the path to spiritual recovery. Is it merely to lose oneself in yet another illusion of self-worth? Thousands of people down the centuries would argue otherwise. I argue otherwise!
I don't think one should underestimate the power of the ego to say that your spiritual recovery is an illusion. It is the ego that deals in illusions, that needs its own petty sense of self-worth. The real, authentic self deals in truth, in reality. And you know, deep down, that you are much closer to the loving and lovable self that you seek to reveal. And if you're not there yet, what the hell? You have found the courage to seek the strait way that few find. Look at your fears, and laugh at them, laugh at your ego's attempts to bring you down.
Thoughtful post as always, Miss H. :c) Thank you for sharing!ReplyDelete
A few points in response to what Tom said.
Today there are generally accepted limits to authenticity in philosophy. So it is maintained it is desire for authenticity that leads us to the truth. Becoming authentic is an individual thing - it is a life- long process and not an end unto itself, unless you believe you have arrived at a state of perfection. You become more comfortable in your own skin, so to speak. The extent to which that feels wholesome is of course an individual thing. That is not a matter of substituting one illusion for another, but rather an enlightened journey.
So that philosophically that idea of a perfect authentic self is rejected today, notwithstanding it was acceptable right up until the time of the existentialists, in the aftermath of the second world world war.
But I don’t think anything herein contradicts what you are saying Tom about your’s or anyone else’s spiritual journey, or ideas.
Joanna and Cass, fellow travellers, I so appreciate knowing you both. Hugs and love.ReplyDelete
Tom and Lindsay, the self revealed here is definitely a more loving and (I hope) lovable person. The word "authentic" seems to imply original or factual, neither of which can be achieved in a person who carries around over sixty years of memory from a time when I did my best with what I was certain was all I could have. What I know of my original self might have lived in a very different time. She looks in the mirror today and laughs at who we are now; an artistic woman of a certain age who is mostly boring.
My comment about "another sort of conditioning" came into mind as a result of the awareness that when I first went out as a woman, a lot of energy was devoted to how I presented myself; ego as you say. The person others see before they get to know me is that 'created' woman.
Love to you both as well.