My Inscrutable Ego and the Seven Selves
One moment, it all makes sense. Life, I mean. The next, it seems as confusing as before. Sometimes more. All my attempts to seek clarity, momentarily succeed and then leave me more confused.
This was me a few years ago. I couldn't stand it anymore. It was draining me from within. I needed a logical explanation for this confusion. Not some metaphysical salve to soothe my internal dissonance. I don’t mind metaphysical explanations to smooth out small imperfections like a putty before painting, as long as the structure is built on something that seems like logic. Yes. I live under the Tyranny of Logic. Sorry, but that’s how it is. It helps me remain calm. At times.
So…I meditated on this conundrum. Even drank myself silly. Used traditional methods to expand my consciousness. Anything that helped. One early morning at around 3 or 4, in a stupor(of what, I cant recollect), I drew seven concentric circles on my sketchbook and scribbled something illegible within each circle and went back to sleep.
Got up later that day and stared at it. Couldn’t remember a thing. Couldn’t decipher a thing. But there was an internal resolution and peace. I knew I was close to the explanation I sought. But I did not want to rush it.
I don’t like to force anything except the last bit of the toothpaste out of a tube. Can’t see it going waste. Those are the last bits of my parsimonious mother’s teachings that refuse to be rinsed out of my system.
Anyway, I did not want to force it out. I was excited and happy like my young self who looked forward to the next issue of his favorite children’s magazine. He knew it was coming. He had to wait and read the latest issue many times over. But he knew that the next issue was on its way.
I knew that I had to wait. Just like him.
And then when I was least expecting, it came to me during a conversation with my philosophical friend. He seemed to be pleasantly surprised.
“Where did you read this?”
“Nowhere. It came out of right here” I tapped my head.
He laughed, “Its good. Write about it. It makes sense.”
That was three years ago.
I have revisited it multiple times and I feel that the time for it to be written is now. Did I tell you that I don’t like to force things. Not worth it. Not at all.
So here it is.
Do you talk to yourself?
Do you criticize yourself?
Do you appreciate yourself?
Do you offer counsel to yourself?
Do you goad yourself?
Do you inspire yourself?
Do you bully yourself?
How frequently do you do this?
Have you tried to count how many of you are there?
I have. Seven. There are seven people(at least) within you. And they bicker with each other all the time. Like siblings living in a small house. They fight with each other for everything. From parent’s attention to a few seconds more in the toilet. They push and pull and argue with each other trying to get the last word in this infinitely long drawn argument that we call life.
Here are those seven. This is the gist of all that I have read and heard and thought and experienced, but I cant tell when and where. See if you can recognize them.
1. What I am — Objective self
2. What I think I am — Subjective Self
3. What others think I am — Subjective Other
4. What I think others think of me — Perceived Self
5. What others think I think of myself — Perceived Other
6. What I want others to think of me — Projected Self
7. What others want me to think of myself — Projected Other
Here is how I explain each of these:
“He thinks of himself as the ‘Gift of God’ on earth(5). Such an Idiot(3). He should know that he is just as ordinary as anybody else and is no special snowflake(7)”
“Everybody thinks I am an idiot(4). I want them to think that I am an intelligent person and not an idiot(6). I know they are smarter than me but I don’t think I am a complete idiot(2).”
I do not know about #1. Not even trying to go anywhere near that. Not at least now. (I am afraid that I will sound like an idiot :))
I am not going to explain each one in detail but I will leave it to you to form your own narrative around your ‘selves’.
We constantly engage in an inner struggle with ourselves. One trying to win over the other. Usually one(or two or more) is more dominant than the other, making the person what they are. Compassionate, people-pleaser, an honest but rude ass, dishonest but gentle, Confident Idiot, True Leader and seven billion other flavors.
There are as many ways of living as there are people inhabiting this world. All these are a result of this internal conflict unique to every person. It is the impurity that gives the glass its color and the person their character. So don’t worry too much about these internal conflicts. Just listen to the interesting conversations that your internal selves have with each other. The person who listens to them with amusement is probably the #1. Who knows?
Feel the push of the spirit within you. You may choose to do nothing about it and choose to listen to any one of your other selves. It’s alright. Do what comes naturally. Don’t force yourself before you are ready. But listen to the spirit. It will push you back to your path — sooner or later.
Resist it. Reason with it. Scare it. Ignore it. Plead with it. Do whatever your dominant self wants to do. But eventually the spirit wins the argument. Just by waiting for you to understand what it is trying to tell you.
You may spend some time listening to your other selves, but it is not time wasted because you were being prepared to understand what the spirit was trying to say. Just as you need to feel the language before you can feel the poetry.
Don’t force things. Listen to your ‘selves’. Be amused. Its worth the wait.
Breathe in… Breathe out…Breathe in… Breathe out…