Which “You” is the Real “You?”
Which ‘you’ is it when you are arguing over something that has little real meaning to you? Which ‘you’ is it when you are deeply touched by something that another has done for you? Which ‘you’ is it when you are beating yourself up for something that you did (or maybe forgot to do like pay a bill timely)? Which ‘you’ is the real ‘you?’
The book “Symphony of Selves’ by James Fadiman and Jordan Gruber speaks to the many ways over time and disciplines we have developed this notion of many selves. I find this concept to be rather interesting especially when we look at how each of us interacts in different circumstances — or even more so similar circumstances at different points in our lives.
We come into the world and there are many types of stimuli that come into play. We have the physical aspects of our bodies — genetics, microbiome, brain function, heart function) and what goes into our bodies (foods with or without toxins, air, water, etc). We have the emotional selves which are determined by the way in which we interacted in the environment in which we lived both in the confines of the family and inside the culture in which we grew up. And, then we have the spiritual beliefs or not, as we grow up and choose what to believe in or not. Each aspect has many types of influences on who we become as we grow up — and yet, there is also that interesting concept of change over time.
I had a fairly disturbing incident that occurred yesterday which if it had happened 20 years ago, I would have been a raving lunatic — because I had imprinted some of the more horrifying behaviors from my rather mentally ill mom. But, there was a point in my life when I realized that this was not me and that I needn’t behave in that manner. Of course, many years of learning how to either ‘respond’ or ‘refrain from taking any action instead of an overly and utterly unnecessary reaction came into force at precisely the time necessary. It isn’t to say that I didn’t respond, because I most certainly did — but it was in a measured and rational manner bringing up what it is that was in the other’s own interest instead of becoming the raving lunatic of yesteryear.
There are of course many reasons that one may act in one way versus another — in fact it was noted in the book that certain bugs in the microbiome can be just at fault for a person responding one way to a situation and then a totally different way in a similar situation a few hours later. So, we humans are indeed rather complex creatures to be sure.
The bottom line, is that we are composed of many selves housed in the one body, and depending on our understanding of what makes us act in one fashion versus another we can make incremental or even large changes for the better for how we interact with others. And, that is a very good thing indeed, because one need not waste the emotional energy on issues that can be more healthfully dealt with in a productive meaningful manner.
Learning: I do believe in the theory of ‘many selves’ inside the one body that the authors of “Symphony of Selves” have written about. The most illuminating idea thus far (I am only about 50% through the book) is how we can indeed shift who we are in terms of how we respond to the many interpersonal responses one needs to have in life as we grow into more mature and emotionally stable human beings. It is a choice for most of us and with that choice comes a responsibility to take control of our own interactions with others.
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