Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

How to Identify Your False Self

A guide to dealing with difficult thoughts and emotions

Brian Pennie
Nov 25, 2020 · 5 min read

“I cannot live with myself any longer.”

He suddenly became aware of what a peculiar thought this was. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’… maybe only one of them is real.”

The false self

Are you your thoughts? Are you your feelings? Are you your body, or bodily sensations? No. You are none of these. How can you be if they are always changing?


If I asked you to observe how your body feels, you might take a step back and focus on a specific area, such as your breath, pulse, or chest. If I asked you what you were thinking, you can observe this too. You might be planning for the week ahead, or worrying about money, but it’s possible to observe these thoughts. It’s the same for feelings. If I asked you how you feel, you could take a step back and observe how you feel.

Why is this important?

Many people are anxious and overwhelmed without realizing why. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Next time you feel agitated or uneasy, take a few minutes to mindfully observe your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.

Take-away message

You are not your thoughts, feelings, or physical body. This is your false self, which is simply who you think you are.

Source: Pre-post addiction images from 2011 (left) and 2020 (right)

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