When you’re harassed by guilt and self-judgment, you’re vacating your true self . . . and you’re vacating truth. Period.
In my last post, Escape your Jungle, I defined the true self and how it can easily become overshadowed by a bogus self-concept—based on erroneous beliefs about ourselves.
Donna was my example. Her negative conclusions about herself created a strangling thicket which played a significant role in her depression and life dissatisfaction. Her pathway back to her true self entailed disbelieving those conclusions.
Like Donna, Brad needed to get reacquainted with his true self and identify the lies about himself that he was hanging on to. I’ve mentioned him before on this blog.
Long ago, when Brad was a child, an inner critic started to sprout. It criticized and shamed him the way his father would. And it picked on him exactly the way his siblings did. In time, Brad grew up and left home but his inner critic went with him. That’s too bad. It meant he would continue to experience internal assaults and guilt on a constant basis.
This nasty brute hangs out in our head, taunting, judging, scolding, bossing, and finding fault with everything we wear, think, eat and do. (And the list doesn’t end there.) 😉
Those internalized messages obscure our true self. I remember Brad once telling me, “My true self is foreign to me, so I don’t feel it’s attainable.” Like so many of us, he had fallen into the habit of giving his inner roommate more reality than his true self.
“How do I figure out what my true self is?” he asked.
“We don’t figure out who we are,” I said, “we experience it.”
I had Brad close his eyes and imagine a time when he felt free from guilt. With barely a moment’s hesitation, he said: “Being out in nature.” His voice cracked with emotion as he talked about finding refuge in a woods near his house. He played near a creek, climbed on logs and built a few forts over time. Nothing disturbed his peace. His siblings weren’t there to pick on him and his father wasn’t there to shame or judge him. He felt peaceful and self-confident. He didn’t need his father’s acceptance out there—he was experiencing self-acceptance.
I urged Brad to tuck that memory away and pull it out whenever he feels a guilt-attack coming on. It’ll key him into the truth about himself.
Another client recounts similar feelings while playing a piano . . . when she gets to a space where the music is “effortlessly flowing through my fingers, and the whole world shrinks to nothing—there is only that moment.”
As for me, my earliest true-self memory goes back to the age of five. It was one of those sunny, deep-blue-sky days, and I was outside on my bicycle. Not a soul was in sight . . . just me, the birds and the serene day.
The inner roommate is relentless and doesn’t go away without an entire arsenal being deployed against it. The inner roommate doesn’t use logic. It can’t use logic, but we can and must. We shouldn’t blindly buy into what our inner roommate says about us. How did it get a monopoly on truth anyway? Questioning the validity of the roommate’s accusations involves logic.
In our sessions, whenever Brad said something negative about himself, I questioned it. I demanded evidence to support the allegations. I got ruthless at times! 🙂 Finally, after enough exposure to this, he began questioning his negative self-talk on his own. That was the idea.
I get excited—call it a eureka moment—whenever clients see their inner roommate for what it is and cease to pay homage to it. Such a moment presented itself not long ago when Brad leaned forward in his chair and uttered these words:
“You know what? My roommate’s a liar!”
We high-fived that one! That moment of clarity, by the way, came straight from his true self.
What are some of your true-self experiences? I’d love to hear them!
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.
(c) 2014 Salee Reese