“Make your self comfortable.” “Suit your self.” Even “Self growth”--we use the word “self” a lot but does anyone know what it means?
Christians think they do. They say God gives it to them, it’s like the soul, it’s what God gives people at birth so they can choose freely whether or not to become Christians. But what about those of us who aren’t Christian? What’s our self consist of?
Does it matter? Well, it’s hard to grow something if you don’t know what it is.
Science can’t help us. The self isn’t the kind of thing you can study with science. You can’t weigh the self or measure it, you can’t break it down into elements or atoms. We have to look somewhere else. Maybe instead we can look at how the self got made. Knowing how something got made will often tell you how to fix it.
Most of us who aren’t Christian, we’ve a new creation story—evolution. This creation story says the self evolved, along with the rest of us. That’s how it got made.
Does that solve the problem? Unfortunately, no. Right there we run into a wall. Our main theory of evolution, Darwinism, is just part of science. It’s just more physics, it doesn’t tell us anything about the self, it doesn’t give the self any role in evolution. And that can’t be true, just look how we’ve impacted the evolution of almost all other living creatures, through our own self-expression in creating science and technology. If our self can do that to other creatures, just imagine what it must be doing to us. That’s a clue to how important the self must be for driving evolution.
Fortunately there’s a second theory of evolution, called Lamarckism after a biologist called Lamarck. He said evolution is driven by something like an intelligence inside living creatures that comes up with new ideas for how to solve problems. Ideas that succeed get built into those creatures and appear automatically in them from then on.
No one knows how that works. But examples of it happening have recently been found. So we’re entitled to think of evolution as involving something like a self.
Now we’ve a new answer to the question, what is the self. It’s the power behind evolution. It’s as grand, as creative, as evolution itself.
Think this doesn’t affect you? Think you don’t know anything about evolution? I doubt that’s true. I expect you’ve heard that living creatures are “adapted to their environment.” That’s the language of Darwinism and it’s become commonplace. And what it tells us is, don’t expect much of your self. All you can expect of your self is, you’re merely “adapted” to your environment. You’re no more than you need to be just to survive and reproduce.
But your self is much more than that. How much more? Just look around at nature. See how immensely creative evolution is. We’ve that creativity inside us.
We can draw and paint. We can sing. We can invent mathematics and science. That’s only the beginning. There are boundless talents in the self just waiting to be discovered and developed.
Seen this way, the study of evolution suddenly becomes much more important. From it we could learn how to tap into evolution’s awesome creative powers to enhance our own self. The first step is the most important – expect more of your self.

Author's Bio: 

Shaun Johnston publishes books on evolution and the self under the imprint "Evolved Self Publishing" (www.evolvedself.com). His latest title is "Self Improvement Through a New Approach to Evolution," a 110-page large-format handbook illustrated throughout with drawings and cartoons. It introduces a new theory of evolution and explains how to apply this theory to self help.