“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” — Judy Garland
In the realm of life lessons, I have been torn by irreconcilable, two-headed desires: where one part is objective, factual and social, the other part is subjective, personal and dream-like.
I’m temporarily returning to the topic of clarification dilemmas because yesterday’s blog on trust and engagement implicates the way we arrive at our judgments — particularly the way we discern our true versus false-selves. If trust and engagement is primarily about holding and containing image values (via imagination), then how our memory ‘calls up and selects’ may distort our awareness of our true feelings. Remember: memory and imagination each have different ‘recollections.’
The purpose of judgement clarification bears repeating: To put yourself on the path to where you want to go. Often in a reverie of clarification, we come in contact with our edges – those places where ‘who-we-are-now’ brushes up against that ‘which-we’re-not-aware-of.’ And that’s exactly the place where a “false self” can hijack us.
First let me be clear with my definitions.
- True self is the imaginative self that aligns with the potential your original being. The reverie of your true self accepts the problem of not knowing and is willing to take a risk to discover something new.
- False self is the more limited self that aligns with the strategies of our past. We are never fully let go of the strategies that have worked in the past for we honor who-we-are-now by admitting the “viability” of these tried-and-true alternatives.
So how do you discern the more limited ‘false self’ from the imaginatively fuller ‘true self’? Remember that two-headed desire? — one part is objective, factual and social, the other part is subjective, personal and dream-like. Side with the subjective, personal and dream-like but only if you can discover something new.
You see, the false-self dilemma most often sides with the social. The lure of social achievement conflicts with our need for play; the drive for recognition conflicts with the embodied dream of what we are meant to do. And as a result, our efforts tend to feel like shadows. The scripts we learned in youth no longer serve. The person we are (or were) is pushed under ground and forced into hiding. Our false self is given recognition, praise, and honor. And that becomes our acceptance of easy inevitability. No risk taken.
Let me offer an example: Jason needs to finish a report. He’s been waiting for material for over a week. The due date is tomorrow. What’s he going to tell his boss? In the past he has “blown up” at the person holding up his progress, he has “blown up” at himself, and he has curried favor with his boss by offering an alternative, or an explanation. It would be easy to “blow up” again; it would be easy to “bait and switch” again, it would be easy would be to deny his participation. But with none of those options does Jason learn anything new. The result is more important than the learning. To learn something new, Jason must think about his involvement and obligation; who does Jason most want to be?
Imagination holds the key, but it is most often not our familiar flights of imagination. Only the ones that really challenge our vulnerability seem to count. And even then, we don’t know what will happen. We still have to exercise trust and engagement. Thanks for listening!