We endlessly discuss and gossip about questions of: What am I? Who am I? What is my self?
Layers of Fear hide answers to these questions. They must be lifted off to live in the essence of an effective life.
First Layer: As this first thin layer is lifted there is a growing awareness that ideas about your self are made-up. They only exist as ideas in the minds that hold them.
It doesn’t follow that ideas are useless, or at all meant to be ineffective. It means that at their core, effective or ineffective, they are not real; they are figments of imagination. They can be easily be made into dark heavy blankets.
So in unpeeling this first thin layer you face a question: “My self, what I am, who I am, is not real! It is just an idea or concept?”
You may shake your head or say: “Thanks. How does this help me live effectively?” Hold this question as the second layer is lifted.
The Second Layer: Hold back each peel as we proceed deeply inward.
If you have even considered that you are an idea, then you will, with fear, begin to more clearly see you don’t know who, or what you are; you don’t know who or what your self is, where you are, or how to make sense of anything. You have not owned that you’re entirely free to make this up. “If this is true, why isn’t it simple to make an effective self?” It ‘is’. And it ‘is not’.
Understanding you can create whatever you want or wish, the first difficulty with ‘is not’ arises with the realization that if you want freedom from the dark you have no choice about taking full responsibility for your construction. This is why the ‘is’ seems so difficult. It asks: “Do you want to own responsibility for the self you have created?”
The external world from conception on provides ready-made ways to avoid responsibility for one’s constructed self: Physical: “Born this way”, “Body/soul is damaged”, Environmental: “Tough life”, “Parents”. This is a fruitless nature-nurture debate. For the degree you choose to avoid responsibility for creating your self, using nature or nurture, you are making-up-a-self sliding into a dark pit of pain.
The Third Layer: The second layer is heavy, yet as you lift the third layer you see it doesn’t mean there is no truth to the fact we begin life with others totally responsible for us. Here you see is where ‘is not’ makes its stand. Given the temptations waiting at maturity, self-deception is the ‘seeming-easy’ choice; or you can ask: “How do I regain responsibility for my self?”
Deciding you want an effective life, you must own the fact that all others including society, religion and culture have put ideas into your mind about who and what you are. “You’re ‘special’. You’re X age, sex, religion.” “You’re bad. You little devil.”
So all your dark, ineffective thoughts, feelings and behavior is exposed when the third layer is lifted. Through your whole life, as you decide to make up who and what you are, you have to deal with the effective and ineffective parts of you that were installed by others before you were responsible for yourself. Even though they were made-up by others, they still have their own ability, to think, perceive and even act AS IF they are really you.
The Fourth Layer: The lifting gets heavier but keep holding the layers up. Are those glimpses of light? Underneath is a further growing awareness that you also began, when not fully responsible for yourself, to slowly but surely make up ideas of who and what others were, based on your experiences and imagination. These parts of your self, others inside you, so to speak, also act AS IF they are real and autonomous. Holding onto guilt, shame and responsibility for the made-up ineffectiveness of others inside you, as part of your own self, is a cause of immense darkness. The power of negative emotions given to these made-up others is held over you only when you don’t alternatively find the light switch of owning responsibility for making them up. You can waste large amounts of creative energy trying to fix these ineffective ‘others’ parts. They can’t be ‘fixed’! They aren’t real!! You can only release in forgiveness and thereby free yourself from these guilty thoughts born of fear.
The darkness now intensifies before the dawn for as you lift this layer you are shockingly aware that what you see outside is what you have made-up inside. Perceiving or projecting these creations onto others outside your self by criticizing, blaming or denigrating instead of releasing them to forgiveness reinforces the darkness of fear. You are letting internal constructions, meant to protect and safely hold you, lead you and leave you, in the dark.
The Fifth Layer: Like ripping off a band-aid you lift this last layer of exquisite pain. Here you decide, “I will take responsibility for what I’ve made, surely the light switch must be there, right there!” But, no, you still have to face and lift off the final two scabs of immense fear and pain.
- 1st: You have to mourn and grieve the made-up ineffective parts of yourself installed by others and then mourn and grieve the ineffective made-up parts of others you created inside yourself.
- 2ndly: You have to face a feeling of dread as you release these made up parts of yourself, BUT, because these parts have made up so much of your sense of who you are, you will feel you are falling into a ‘seeming’ abyss. It feels AS IF your whole self is being annihilated.
But as these layers are lifted the light switch is revealed: “I’ve made up who I am. I own responsibility for it, but not a shred of it is real”. The ‘power’ of money, fame, sex, ambition, drugs, power, roles and all negative emotions are jettisoned. You see your ineffective creation was meant to encircle you with an effective creation of love and forgiveness. You willingly release the ineffective.
The answer to who and what you are arises inside to tell you from Itself, and every temptation a chance to choose again for weakness or strength, truth or lies, peace or war, your will be done effectively in innocence and Love.
Dr. Clark Falconer is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain. He is a practicing Psychiatrist from Vancouver, Canada and the author of the new, critically acclaimed book The Three Word Truth About Love And Being Well.
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