Overcoming Your False Self

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how to overcome your false self.

First a quick update:

“Of course, an American  is colorless”
Former Cosby TV show star Raven Symone says an American is colorless; nowhere in the world is citizenship determined by color. What does it mean to deny color and heritage? Read my insights and opinion in the article “Raven Symone Searching for Identity”.

Follow me on Twitter – You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert   https://twitter.com/Behavior_Expert

Now, let’s talk about your false self and how to overcome it.

It’s a simple question, which often stumbles many people: “Who are you?”

Most people respond with name, titles, positions, gender, etc.

Is that, though, the real answer to the question?

What distinguishes you from everyone else?

How do you know what is your real self and what is your false self?

The search for our identity and sense of self begins as early as age 12 when we begin to question  and  rebel against our parents and the search becomes more pronounced in our teen years as we try to establish our own identity separate from our parents. We start to clarify our beliefs, values, goals, dreams, hobbies and passion. (Watch the video of the way school children respond when asked “Who are you?”)

For some people, it is a quest without a clear destination; some people are unable to truly define themselves or clarify what they want in life. However, the greatest challenge is trying to distinguish the real self from the false self.

What is the false self?

In psychoanalysis, the “False Self” refers to a defensive façade, an inability to be spontaneous, coupled with a feeling of being dead or empty.

Here, I expand on that definition to include limiting beliefs and negative emotions.

I teach that we learn 3 ways:

  1. We watch the people around us (usually our parents) and we naturally copy them
  2. We listen to what the adults say and we believe what they say, and often we even repeat those phrases when we become adults and parents
  3. We have specific experiences from which we form conclusions based on our limited interpretation at the time (e.g. if you screamed as a child to get attention, food or to get your own way, then you will have formed the conclusion that the only way to get attention or to achieve what you want is to create drama.)

There is a fourth component to the way we learn, and thus whom we become; this is one of the most critical aspects of our false self:

We absorb the emotions of our parents, usually the parent with which we connected the most or, the parent who was the most dominant person in the household.

In other words, we enter this life open and full of love, similar to an empty vessel or glass. It is the negative programming from our parents, family, media, society, and so forth that fills us and we become our False Self.

Thus, the False Self is the conditioned, programmed part of ourselves; the part which not only learned to survive but which formed interpretations and definitions about love; I refer to this aspect as “Twisted Love.”

Children define love based on attention – the type and quantity of attention – positive or negative attention. If love was given or expressed only when you did something or didn’t do something, then you will form a definition of love based on that. If your parents were sparing or withheld love then you will believe that you deserve a limited amount of love or you will believe you have to work hard to receive love.

In other words, we subconsciously make choices based on the assumptions and interpretations of a child.

Thus the false self comprises:

Emotions that don’t belong to us (the negative and agitative emotions that we absorbed from our parents)

Beliefs that we learned from our parents and society; beliefs that limit us.

Let’s look at these two components.

Write out a list of all of the emotions of your parents. Create two columns – one for dad and one for mom (or adult caretaker.) Under each column identify all of the emotions that each person felt. What emotions did dad demonstrate or exude? What emotions did mom demonstrate or exude?

Now reread both columns, and on a separate page, list out which of those emotions are common to you. Which emotions do you share with your parents?

For example, one client was always anxious for no obvious reason; we determined that she had absorbed the anxiety of her mother who was always worried and anxious. Another client would respond with anger to challenges; we determined he absorbed the anger of his father and learned from his father to respond with anger whenever faced with challenges. A third client suffered from hypochondria; we determined that she had absorbed the emotion and responses of her mother who was always panicking about being sick; her mother was constantly in fear that she, the mother, had a disease or illness of some sort.

These are the subconscious beliefs about what we feel we deserve and what type of world in which we live.

Write out a list of all of the beliefs of your parents. Create two columns – one for dad and one for mom (or adult caretaker.) Under each column identify all of the beliefs that each person had. What beliefs did dad demonstrate or exude? What beliefs did mom demonstrate or exude?

Now reread both columns, and on a separate page, list out which of those beliefs are common to you. Which beliefs do you share with your parents? Consider all areas of beliefs – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.

Under mental, consider each person’s beliefs (mom’s, dad’s and yours) about life in general – work, career, responsibilities, roles and so forth.

Under emotional, consider each person’s beliefs (mom’s, dad’s and yours) about love and relationships.

Under physical, consider each person’s beliefs (mom’s, dad’s and yours) about money, health and other tangible things.

Under spiritual, consider each person’s beliefs (mom’s, dad’s and yours) about God, religion, contribution and morality.

For example, if mom or dad believed that life is hard and that money is scarce, you will notice most likely that you subconsciously believe the same things. The one belief that appears to be common with all clients is the belief that he/she is not good enough and, that mom/dad shared the same beliefs i.e. what did mom and dad believe about their own self-worth? Do you share the same belief about your self-worth?

By completing this exercise, you will be able to clearly identify those aspects of your false self – the emotions and beliefs that you absorbed and adopted which, in turn, hold you back and prevent you from fully enjoying and experiencing life.

This exercise also gives you greater understanding, awareness and potential compassion for yourself and others.

Remember, as the saying goes, ‘A fish doesn’t know it’s a fish until it is taken out of the fish bowl.’ In other words, you have to step out of your world and self and take a look at who you are and how you respond to life to find out who you really are and in order to be able to distinguish your real self from your false self.

Your real self is the part of you that is like a clean slate on which you can create anything; your real self is the part of you that is like a vessel with which you can refill it with love instead of fear, judgment or self-loathing.

I understand and concede that the powerful exercise I shared with you here is only the first step in making real changes – its focus is awareness and understanding. Very soon, I will be releasing a brand new interactive audio program which will aid you in quickly and easily releasing old emotions that don’t really belong to you, and, it will help you to quickly and easily transform limiting beliefs.

Meanwhile, remember that true power comes when you are present in the moment. Be present at all times and become an observer, and then you can choose what you want to do (how you want to respond) in each moment.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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