- Mental Health
Exploring the Self
Exploring the Self
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
In examining the true nature of oneself, it is fitting to develop some perspective on how someone else sees us. This judgement is of course subjective dependent on the understanding and intimacy achieved with this person, their biases and capacity to be honest without the fear of personal compromise. Given this viewpoint as a guideline, we can then relate it to our own beliefs about us, how we see ourselves considering what we know and understand, about our faults and inclinations. We too are subject to bias, often plagued by deep-rooted deceptions that can hinder our vision of whom we are.
Ultimately not many people know who we are, not even us. It is rare to find a friend that is secure enough and that knows you well enough to recognise whatever they say will be taken in a positive way and will not affect a future relationship. Think about it; if you have such a person in your life, you are indeed fortunate.
How far we are willing to go to share our inner thoughts, are determined by many factors and can be revealing, regarding our true nature, our real self. Who we are, is more often shrouded in layers of repression gathered from early childhood, from parents and then later from other role models and society in general.
We are expected to conform to different behaviours that may contravene our spirit for freedom, fun, and self-expression. This constant repression of our child nature can diminish our ability as adults to express spontaneity, enjoyment, confidence and to develop a feeling of worth. All these aspects impact on our adult life and make self-analysis difficult and fraught with traps and protection mechanisms that endeavour to maintain the maladjusted child within, our true self that is cloaked with fear.
Introspection is a worthwhile exercise providing there is a process and understanding of the hidden secrets of one's past, the potential damage created from childhood experience and the propensities that have emerged because of them. Since most of the problems arise from early childhood it is necessary to look at the needs of a child, indeed a human being.
Survival, Safety and Security- Parents must first provide enough needs for survival.
Touching- This is one of the most important needs to be met. Studies have proved that children who are not touched as babies fail to thrive and grow, regardless of proper food and nourishment. Without skin to skin contact it has been proven also that many physiological problems and diseases arise, whereas cuddled children remained healthy. It is believed that four to twelve hugs a day is needed to maintain health.
Attention- A child must know that it is being attended to, cared for.
Mirroring and Echoing- A child and or adult needs to be validated, as a feeling and thinking human being. Understanding of this is gained through facial expressions, posture, sounds and other movements from the mother. Without these basic needs a child’s physical, emotional and spiritual growth will be stunted. When the mother’s needs are not being met, being impoverished or for some reason needy, she can use the child to satisfy her own needs. The child can then grow up detecting the mother’s needs and begins to provide them, thus stifling the child’s needs and repressing the True Self. The child then grows to adulthood with physical, mental and spiritual suffering.This is the impact from a dysfunctional family environment.
Guidance- For a child to develop normally the parents must offer advice, assistance and any form of verbal or non-verbal help. It also includes modelling and teaching appropriate social skills.
Listening, Participating and Accepting- It is important the child is heard, understood and accepted, is taken seriously and tolerated of feelings and the real self.
Opportunity to Grieve Losses and to Grow- It is important that losses are grieved and the pain and suffering worked through. This ensures growth and that issues are resolved.
Support- A child requires support from parents, role models and friends, to not block the true self seeking, receiving input and creating to achieve potential.
Loyalty and Trust- Support requires loyalty and trust from both giver and receiver. Betraying the true self can create damage to relationships.
Accomplishment- Achievement implies empowerment, power and control. Completing a task is important and should be supported. The feeling of making a contribution, gives the task meaning. People that did not have this guidance grow up with difficulty in completing tasks and making decisions.
Altered Consciousness, Enjoyment and Fun- We all have an innate need for altered sates of consciousness, from time to time. This does not refer to drug use or alcohol but to things like daydreaming, laughing, playing sports, concentrating on a project or sleeping. Most importantly is experiencing enjoyment and having fun, spontaneity a characteristic of the Inner Child, the True Self.
Sexuality- This is a range of potentials including feeling good about being a male or female and discovering a sexual identity. Without sexual identity it is difficult to function at that level and to enjoy the experience.
Freedom- Having the freedom to risk, explore and to spontaneously experiment is a human need. Responsibility is a result of having freedom. Without freedom one can develop impulsive and unhealthy behaviours.
Nurturing- This is the provision of all the above, appropriate to each situation. This requires effort by the nurturer and a surrender and acceptance by the nurtured.
Unconditional Love- This is the ultimate commitment by the parent- to love regardless of anything else, to accept and to support.
Rarely are all these needs met in childhood. It is estimated that only 5-20% of children grow up with the right nurturing and love to enable them to have and maintain successful relationships. This is bleak, but it does give perspective when being introspective and realising that we have subconscious motivations and propensities that can dictate our behaviour. When trying to understand ourselves and what creates some of our behaviours, it is a good idea to examine this list and see what is relatable.
We are all a product of our collective experience and without looking at these needs, it is difficult to ascertain our true self. This is the self within us that has energy, spontaneity, fun, is creative and is ultimately fulfilled and happy. The is a simple step on a journey, but worth the effort.