Hamlet’s Polonius once said “This above all: to thine own self be true”. If you haven’t taken the time to ponder the difference between your True Authentic Self and the False Ego or simply “Ego” you might be in for an interesting experience.
Lets first define the two concepts. Freud defined the Ego as the “psychological components of the personality represented by our conscious decision-making process”. In this case, the definition can be simplified as your “thinking brain” and how you perceive yourself. The thinking brain can be thought of as the constant narrator in our mind. The one that is both reading this and then having a thought like “what does she mean by narrator?” The part about how you perceive yourself would include any labels that you would consider appropriate for yourself such as male/female, short/tall, slender/heavy, ethnic background, educational level/intellect, good looking/not, wealthy/poor, and any other labels that you might not even be aware of.
The True Self on the other hand, is the awareness behind the scenes. That which “listens” to the narrator or thinking brain we defined earlier. The True Authentic Self is that essence we were born with. It is timeless and ageless. If we can remember the old Wizard of Oz movie, The Authentic Self would be the old man behind the machine that was what people thought was the powerful Wizard of Oz. Many cultures refer to it in many ways such as the soul, life force, Chi, etc.
Why would we want to become aware of the True Self and the Ego? The biggest reason would be the ultimate realization that we are not our thoughts, as we had most likely thought all of our lives. We are instead the awareness behind those thoughts. The “monkey brain” as it has been defined, because it often jumps from thought to thought like a monkey swinging on vines, is often driven mostly by fear; fear of people not liking us, fear of failure, fear of not being enough, fear of abandonment and ultimately fear of dying.
The True Self on the other hand has no fear. Innately, it knows it is everlasting, universal, and all love. So it doesn’t care to impress others, be liked, seek success, be alone, it does not fear death. The True Self is whole and complete, and it recognizes that it is part of the oneness with the universe. That is why some people in certain cultures will use the greeting Namaste; the spirit within me salutes the spirit within you, as a knowing that we are all made and part of the One Divine Consciousness. In Christianity; “one bread, one body, one love of all”.
Once one can know from which they are operating from in certain instances in life, decisions can become clearer. For instance, seeking praise for something done, is that something important to the True Self or the Ego? Amassing wealth just for the sake of feeling more worthy is that a need for the Ego or the True Self? The Ego needs to be constantly praised, validated and “not put in a corner” so to speak. The True Self is concerned with soul growth, listening to your intuition and helping others on their journey among other things.
So how do we connect to the True Self? If is often difficult to quiet the mind enough to feel the True Self. Although it is running the show, it o ften lets the brain think it is running the show, again because the brain needs to feel important. So, in those quiet moments when the brain settles such as in mediation or silent prayer, the True Self emerges and we can connect to our deeper sense of self and even strengthen it this way. Other ways we may connect with the True Self is through those special moments that are either jarring or somehow our emotions get tapped. This can be when we witness something beautiful, either with humans, animals or nature. Our mind becomes quiet and then we feel our true selves; often so strongly that it may even bring us to tears, tears of joy or even sorrow. The True Self always knows truth when it sees it.
So meditate, get out to nature, help another being, love, forgive, and no doubt you will not only come to experience your True Authentic Self, but you will also strengthen it so that you can access it more and more often.