The Essential Self vs. The Social Self

In a recent podcast I listened to, Martha Beck the well known life coach shares some wisdom on paying attention to the feelings you experience in your life and if you are living your way or the way others expect.

Martha talks about finding your essential self- this is what you were born to be, it would be the same no matter what society you lived in or who raised you. The social self, she sees as completely in response to the people who raised you and the culture you grew up in that gave you the internal rules for behavior that dominate everyday of your life.

If two selves get along well then great! If not that’s when we have problems she says…

You don’t want to be fighting your essential self forever, you can try and try to fit in with the culture around you but at the end of the day if its opposed to your nature you will start to crack at the seems. For example working somewhere that doesn’t feel in alignment with your soul and bring out the best in you! Martha says this is where you may start to get symptoms and realize that something is wrong- for example sickness, resistance to going into your job etc. Our bodies have intense psychological symptoms for things that are not good for us. We have to listen to what our bodies are saying. When you feel something is not right you want to stop and see where you have violated your nature and go back to that. Take time to dig deep into your deepest desires and what is going to bring you joy.

We are taught not to respond to these feelings and to just go with what society says- many people are often afraid to break the rules of their culture, their norm, and get out of their comfort zone.

So we want a change but for some of us its hard to answer the question,” What do you want?”

Martha says first we need to get past the trauma- anything that divides us from our essential self. She explains trauma in this sense as a blockage, something we feel is stuck in us and perhaps we keep ignoring it.  “People get so traumatized by their own socialization so they forget about their own real desires.” Martha says.

We are perhaps scared that if we disobey the culture /people in our lives by not doing what they expect of us that they are not going to respond well.We have to address the wound. If we don’t, we just spend our days running away from the pain, from what our essential selves truly desires.

The biggest thing stopping us from looking deeply into what our essential selves really wants is our thinking! Negative thought patters and incessant thinking get in the way too often. This is where my passion for Mindfulness comes up again, the practice of “watching the thinker” by paying more attention to our thought patterns and bringing ourselves out of our repetitive thinking by coming back to the present moment- to what is actually happening around us, not to where our mind is wandering.

Martha Beck says about thinking- ” Everytime we think a thought it actually creates an electrical circuit in the brain itself, and when we think it wraps itself in a fatty substance called myelin- which is like the insulation wrapped around electrical cords. It creates this little electrical circuit, and everytime we think a certain thought it wraps with another sheet of myelin and the effect of that is that the belief feels more true and that we think it more quickly.”  These neural pathways send neurotransmitter chemicals and request more of the same thoughts which makes the pathways we have created stronger! We need to remember our brains can be shaped just like our muscles at the gym, we can shape our thoughts and change negative patterns!

Once a belief is so deeply ingrained it can also effect our ability to think of alternatives. This is where the power of asking questions and observing our thoughts can be so helpful and can create a whole different thought path that we may have never even considered. Martha continues At first it is like learning another language, the brain struggles to make even a single connection so you actually have to exercise it, you have to spend time practicing , myelinising a different circuit. Eventually the old circuit starts to wither.”

Check out some of my posts on Mindfulness for inspiration on how to stop overthinking, and how to catch a negative thought before it spirals!

In my next post I continue with Martha’s truly insightful take on how to embrace change.

Have a great day,




2 Comments Add yours

  1. Courtney says:

    Really insightful. Loved reading this post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s