Many neurologists, philosophers, and everyday people propose that we each have a self. There has been rich and raucous debate across centuries and cultures about what that is. After 15 years' study I propose there are two types of self which regulate your personality and behaviors every day.
If our early-childhood nurturing is enough, we seem to automatically develop a personality subself which acts like a naturally-talented orchestra leader, athletic coach, or chairperson. This subself has clear, realistic wide-angle, long-range vision. S/He consistently makes healthy, balanced minor and major decisions based on the dynamic input of our five or six senses and vocal
In this best case, our complex evolving network of neural computers is directed and coordinated each moment by this highly-skilled true Self (capital S). When that happens, kids and adults report feeling a mix of grounded, calm, purposeful, focused, optimistic, strong, up, content, alert, aware, alive, resilient, centered, resilient, secure, potent, and compassionate. Remember the last time you felt a blend of these?
Enter the (Protective) False (Pseudo) Self
But... if very young kids experience significant lack of wholistic their personalities (brains) seem to develop a different kind of self (small s). Their true Self seems or blocked from developing and directing their actions by other well-meaning but limited, impulsive and personality subselves who want to run the show.
False-self formation and dominance is normal, widespread, and promotes survival vs. growth. It's like a distrustful, disgruntled violinist, tuba player, and lead tenor pushing their talented conductor off the podium and fighting over who will lead the orchestra.
Here's a way to sense who's leading someone's personality (like yours) recently or situationally. For more detail on behavioral symptoms on each of the six common false-self wounds, follow these links.
Common True Self Behavioral Traits
• Alert, awake,
• Generally up and light, (mood)
• Usually realistically optimistic
• Focused, clear, and centered
• Compassionate, kind, forgiving
• Firm, strong, motivated, purposeful
• Calm, serene, peaceful
• Usually has a wide-angle, focus - accepts delayed gratification
• Balances long and short-term payoffs
• Usually patient, persistent, committed
• Appreciative, grateful, glass half-full
• Empathic, sensitive, genuinely
• open, aware, connected, receptive, growing
• Consistently self-nurturing without egotism
• Genuine, honest, open, direct
• Socially engaged and active
• Physically healthy: balanced diet, exercise, work and rest; preventive checkups
• Spontaneously expressive of all emotions real-time, without major anxiety or guilt
• Able to form with others
• Able to judge who to with what
• Usually realistic about life and situations
• Spontaneously able to exchange love
• Comfortable receiving merited praise
• Often able to forgive self and others
• Frequently includes others in his or her
• Seldom gives
• Able to losses spontaneously
• Seeks Self-guided people and high-nurturance settings
• Evolving and living a clear life-purpose
• Work, play, and rest are generally
Source: Stepfamily In Formation
Peter Gerlach, MSW has been a professional stepfamily researcher, educator, consultant, and therapist since 1979. A Stanford graduate, he was an engineer, trainer, and manager for GT&E and IBM for 17 years. He has been a stepson, step-grandson, stepbrother of four, and the stepfather of two girls.
Peter spent two years researching lay and professional stepfamily literature published between 1979 and 1980 for his social work Master's-degree thesis, and has taken over 400 hours of clinical post-graduate training in a wide range of topics since then. He has consulted with well over 1,000 typical Midwestern divorcing and stepfamily co-parents since 1981.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Enlightenment. The Official Guide to Enlightenment is Suzanna Kennedy. Suzanna is an authority on the Planetary and Personal Accelerated Evolution. A powerful change agent and visionary, she facilitates enlightenment for individuals and groups. She is a captivating speaker and author of the book Sacred Union, Pathway to Paradise. Suzanna’s Divine Human Upgrade Program™ guides clients to expand to higher levels of consciousness with grace and ease.
Additional Resources on Enlightenment can be found at: