Is the Self Really So Powerful? Is the Work of Becoming mySELF Really Worth It?
You were born with a soul—what I call the “self.” I often capitalize the letters to make it clear how crucial it is to discover, honor and act in concert with yourSELF. And that is because it is the center from which you can tap into your intuition, know your dreams, forge loving relationships and achieve the kind of success you truly want.
The self is your birthright. It is your connection to God (or the Universe, for those who choose to see it that way). It is what makes you different from anyone else who is living or has ever lived. It is the reason you have always had a unique purpose in life—a unique destiny to fulfill. It is, at the same time, the reservoir and powerplant for deploying your gifts into this world.
You can’t photograph the self with an electron microscope or image it with an MRI because it is not a material entity. You can’t weigh it. Yet it is undeniably real—and it is indestructible. I promise you that both are true.
If all of us are born with a self (and we are), and if it is so critical to living a life of purpose and joy, then how do we end up living at a distance from it? The answer is that we live through difficulties, often in childhood and adolescence (but also as adults), that make us bury parts of ourSELVES to keep them “safe.” Loss, lack of love, toxic relationships and trauma of many kinds result in this “safekeeping” of the self.
The trouble is that we literally lose track of exactly where, when and why we left our core selves behind—underground, if you will. One of the reasons for this is that when we abandon the self, we do so in the context of pain, and our minds tell us—wrongly—that we had better not think about what was happening in our lives back then. Here’s an example: If a girl has parents who dismiss her artistic dreams, it would be very human for her to need to feel loved by them, anyhow. And that could lead her to unconsciously bury those dreams, in order to appear to be what her parents expect. She might bury them deeply enough to forget all about them. As an adult, rediscovering those dreams will entail revisiting the pain she experienced when her parents failed to embrace her, unconditionally.
Will it be too much pain? No. It never happens that way. Restoring the soul is empowering. Always.
In fact, we overestimate—by a lot—the discomfort involved in reclaiming ourSELVES. It certainly is a process that involves some work. It takes some faith. But it makes us stronger. It makes us whole. It makes us what God intended for us to be.
Dr. Keith Ablow