What if There is No Authentic Self?
In every moment, when we take away that part of us we’ve always thought was the real us (but isn’t) — what’s left is simply the pure flow of infinite potentiality.
I had a bit of an insight about our “true self” some time ago, which I’ll try to put into words here. I hope it makes some semblance of sense.
Here’s what I’ve seen…
As human beings, we are so wedded to our personality. Our individuality. Our identity. That part of us that seems to make us who we are. Our uniqueness. Our specialness.
Yet these aspects of us are also often our downfall.
When we believe our individual traits, ideas and thoughts are who we are, we are forced to defend them at any cost.
And boy do we!
Speaking for myself, I’ve always been highly attached to and identified with my personality. I have generally liked who I was (or thought I was) at any given time. And I’ve always loved expressing myself in my own unique manner.
I believed my personality was THE REAL ME.
I thought it was WHO I AM.
And I have to say, I was highly invested in that belief! In fact, I spent a lot of my life thinking about it. I’ve gone so far as to high five myself many times for being so awesomely authentic! Heck, I’ve even written articles about authenticity.
However, right now in this moment…
I’m not sure I even have an authentic self.
I’m starting to see that authenticity or what I thought of as “my true self” isn’t actually a thing. And it certainly doesn’t have a personality.
Which has me wondering…
What if all our thoughts about our true self were really just a trick of the mind?
A veil that covers what we really are. (Notice I did not say “who.”) A smokescreen to make us think we’re something that we’re not.
What if all our ideas about ourselves are actually…
Just another ego identity trick!
As soon as we think of and picture our true authentic self as “a thing” — we’ve got it wrong.
There is no “form” to what we really are.
And while I knew that my identity was malleable and changeable (because mine had changed so much), I was still missing a key piece of the puzzle.
My identity (regardless of what it looks like in the moment) is not me!
In other words, all the time I’ve spent thinking about my individualism, uniqueness and personality was for nothing. Because it doesn’t actually exist.
There is no real me.
There’s no such thing as my true self.
Nor do I have an authentic being that can act authentically.
Which is kind of scary for someone like me who’s been so identified with how “special” I am.
But it’s also kind of freeing.
Being less (or not) wedded to my personality seems like it should make it easier to do things that don’t fit with my identity. It also seems like it should be easier to pay less attention to the voice in my head who I always thought was me. (Just because it sounds like me doesn’t mean it is!)
There is, of course, a paradox to all of this.
I do believe we are here on Earth to give life to (and play) our own unique and interesting character. We’re here to create and express ourselves in a way that only our messed up mixture of madness can do. No one else in the Universe has the same expression of humanness that we do. Nobody else can create in the same exact manner that we do.
We all have own special uniqueness that sets us apart from others. The good, the bad and the ugly.
And that’s all great!
But it’s also good to know that everyone (and everything) in the Universe is exactly the same.
In every moment, when we take away that part of us we’ve always thought was the real us (but isn’t) — what’s left is simply the pure flow of infinite potentiality. Nothing more, nothing less. And that, my friends, is what we really are.
Jill Whalen is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety. She speaks to businesses and organizations, and personally mentors individuals, coaches and leaders to help them uncover their natural well-being and happiness. Sign up for Jill’s Newsletter to stay abreast of her latest content.