Your Inner Self: What Makes You ‘You’?
We have many things of our own, but not just physical possessions. We also have our thoughts and feelings, memories, body and our relationships. These are the things that we think of as essentially ours, the things that sum up who we are. All these things can be very precious to us and form a key part of our identity. However, which of these things can you truly say is your's alone, the essential part of your inner self?
What do we have of our own – our possessions?
Our possessions might be ours and we might have a clear right to them for the rest of our lives. However, we probably weren't born with them but rather collected most of them along the way – and probably they will continue to exist and be owned by others after we are dead. So they might be ours for now but it's hard to feel certain that they're part of us. They certainly aren't part of your inner self.
… our relationships?
Relationships are very important to us as well, and some people prize relationships above all other things. And yet relationships change over time. They change as we develop, and they change as others develop as well. Additionally, the relationships that we are born with are usually not the relationships that we die with. So, although we may think they are critical to us, they are not the fundamental part of us.
… our memories?
Our memories can also be very important and can feel like a key part of us. We look back over the things that we've done and the things we remember and we feel like we're in touch with ourselves.
The difficulty with this is that our memories sometimes change. The things we can feel certain happened in the past because we remember them can often be untrue. It doesn't stop them being an important part of us but if they are constantly changing, how fundamental to us can they be?
… Our accomplishments?
it can be tempting to think that our accomplishments are a key part of ourselves. After all, they are the things that generally remain after we have gone. However, these accomplishments don't come from nowhere; they come from our essential nature, our inner self. they are just a byproduct; if they weren't important to us, we wouldn't have done them.
The things we do are part of us, but not an inner part of us.
… our thoughts?
Our thoughts are also a key part of us. The things we think can be highly creative and highly original and may be thought by no other person ever. In this way, they are truly ours. However, there are some difficulties with this position.
One difficulty concerns thinking logically and arriving at a conclusion. Whilst this might be a high-order skill, if someone else considers the same facts and comes to the same conclusion it is hard to maintain the position that these thoughts are unique to us. Further, we can also be subject to the influence of the thinking of other people without being aware of it. The things we think may echo something we read a book years ago or overheard from a half-remembered conversation.
For all our hopes of originality, it might be that the thoughts of other people in similar situations are remarkably – and disappointingly – similar to our own.
… our bodies?
Our bodies are something we have and belong to us alone. However, a great many of us don't understand our bodies well at all. We may understand some parts of them but they are for the most part a mixture of poorly understood systems and untested capabilities, along with processes that we have no control over. How can we call our bodies an essential part of the person that we are if we are so unfamiliar with them and have so little control?
Perhaps for many people, our bodies are merely the container that our selves are located within.
Your feelings – this is your inner self
In my opinion, the only things that can really fully regard as our own are the things that we feel. They are the core of your inner self. The things we feel rise within us as an unconscious response to the things we experience, even when we feel more than one thing at a time.
Feelings manifest as bodily sensations; as tensions in our muscles and skin, as a desire for spontaneous movement and as sensations deep in our gut. We only half understand them and are we usually not very good at describing them. However, we know that they're ours – they rise in us because of our biology and they are fully contained within us.
Finally, the thing that makes these other things – our possessions, our relationships, our memories and our thoughts – seem like something special to us is the way that we feel about them.
This is why exploration of our feelings is a fundamental part of counselling and psychotherapy. It is only through your feelings that you experience your true nature, your inner self.
I'd be interested in your thoughts. Now, read about the difference between moods and emotions.
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