The Seven Qualities of Self
A Review of ‘Dear Self,’ a Resource for Self-Knowledge
“What is the Self, and where has it been for so long?”
This is the question Erik Lugnet asks and answers in his book Dear Self: An Intro to Self-Therapy Through Introspection and Journaling.
The book is short, direct, and succinct in its description of what happens to the core identity with which each of us is born.
When our parents require us to suppress our childhood needs in order to meet their adult needs, Erik says “we silence our Self.”
The Self doesn’t die, and it never leaves us. It just disappears in an act of self-protection—whether temporarily or permanently is up to us.
Where does it go, and how do we get it back? This is the scope of the book.
As with anything we want to learn more about, we begin our search for knowledge by constructing definitions. We have to know what we’re looking for.
The Seven Qualities of Self
Right away in the first chapter Erik provides a list of the seven qualities of Self, the “deepest, most profound part of our psyche.” It displays the following traits:
While the world around us is moving faster everyday it seems, the Self takes the time it needs to solve issues and it rests when needed.
The Self conforms to reality. It is open to changing its perspective when offered reason and evidence.
The Self does not accept being attacked or ridiculed. Boundaries are important.
When dealing with your inner world, the Self wants truth and discards falsehood. It understands that when dealing with other people, however, withholding truth can be in your interest, if it protects you from abuse.
The Self has empathy. Where other people will laugh to hold down pain, the Self is connected to that pain. It sees it for what it is.
Tying in with empiricism, the Self is always curious and always seeking to expand its knowledge of reality.
The Self is compassionate to victims of abuse and crime.
I might add one more quality to the list: consistent. The Self holds these qualities all the time. The protective parts of us may not, but the potential to be our strongest and best self is always there, if we want it.
If you’re not expressing the qualities of Self, it’s a clear sign that something or someone has activated past experiences from your childhood, and your true self is in hiding.
The qualities of Self are also a useful gauge for understanding whether others are self-connected from moment to moment. If they’re reacting defensively, lacking in curiosity, or ridiculing and shaming you or others, they’re portraying the survival tactics they learned in childhood, rather than the best parts of who they’re capable of being.
Erik’s book provides an excellent primer for beginning to foster your strongest qualities. By following his suggestions, you can begin to answer questions such as: What do you feel? What do you want? What do you know? And how do you gain self-confidence?
It may seem like you’ve searched without direction for a lifetime. Up until now, you may have known that “something” was missing, but you didn’t know exactly what, or where to begin finding it.
Dear Self tells you how to start the investigation — by being curious, honest, empathetic, and so on — using the qualities of Self to find yourself.
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