Your perception of your “self” can play a great role in how well or poorly you do in various endeavors you undertake in your life. I am using the term “self” with quotation marks particularly to pay emphasis. First of all it is important to have an almost precise understanding of the term “self” itself, if not “the self”. Here I have used the term “self” to refer to the topic or to the self in general, whereas the term “the self” is used to refer to a particular self. The self has been a subject of considerable philosophical scrutiny since millennia. Many thinkers have thought and written huge treatises on it. The topic also draws great attention in teachings of various religions. So what does the self mean?
It is your inner personality that distinguishes you from others. The self is something that makes you unique. The strength of your character, things you are good at, your virtues, your fears, your audacity, your goals, your memories and the way you respond to various stimuli on a moment by moment basis in your life forms your self.
This is possibly a brief and a comprehensive explanation of the term self. If you have understood this explanation well, it should not be very difficult to understand your own self. However, the story is not that simple. Bewildered? Even if you are not confused at the moment I promise that you will be quite confused by the time you reach the end of the next paragraph. And if it does not confuse you or shake your beliefs about your “self” or “the self” as a topic, you are either a well read person with an elevated acumen for philosophical thinking or you are a bit too naive to comprehend all this academic mumbo jumbo concerning the self. Don’t mind, many people are like that.
Even if you have tried hard to understand your self, you may be living in an illusion about it. Actually there was an article in The Scientific American Mind recently that was titled The Self Illsuion. According to this article everything you experience in your life is merely an illusion. In simple terms this means that you are living in an illusion no matter whatever perception you have about yourself. A more complex explanation is that the pain you have due to a severe injury is also merely an illusion. Would it be alright to infer from this that your whole existence, or the very fact that you believe that you exist as you are reading this article and your whole being is merely an illusion? You’d rather that this is the right conclusion.
Looking at the self from the vantage point of contemporary philosophers and the article posted in Scientific American Mind is definitely perplexing. However, you can simplify this discourse by making a few ordinary assumptions. You can assume that you are real and that all of your pains and pleasures are also real and consequently your self is also real. Having agreed on these simple assumptions we now try to see on as to what forms a good or a bad self. You will find that things are still quite complicated. Keep on reading to learn more.
Your self deceives you in many ways. You can do a few simple thought experiments to find out the various deceptions it plays on you. Stand in front of a mirror while you are combing your hair and while you are all dressed up in the best clothes you have. You do such a thing everyday. Now listen to that inner voice that tells you all the great and cool things about yourself. That is how your self is being dishonest with you while trying to beguile you about all the good stuff that you are actually not. Do you feel like disagreeing with this judgement? Let us see why you should not.
At once tell yourself to deliver a speech to an audience comprised of arbitrarily chosen people on a randomly and instantaneously chosen article. Think about it very strongly that you have to perform this activity very soon. As soon as you give this command to yourself you will find your self telling weird things to you about yourself and the speech you have to undertake. Indeed, if you do not have any public speaking exposure or if you are a novice speaker, a myriad of negative thoughts must definitely have stampeded through your mind at this moment.
You are getting nervous. You try to find an excuse. You think that you are obviously great but making a speech is totally out of question. You tell people that you are good at cracking jokes with friends but you are definitely not going to make this speech because you believe that there is something really so bad about public speaking that it should not be done at all. You may even say that this whole public speaking is completely crap and that everyone should abandon it.
These are all lame excuses. The truth is that deep inside your self is telling you that you really can not make this speech at all. It is telling you all the bad things about your voice and appearance. It may as well be telling you that how goofy you may look like when you actually stand up on the stage to make that speech. Just imagine yourself standing behind the dice while the clamor of claps from the audience strikes your ears. You think of your self as a dumb donkey, a designer’s dummy standing on the stage with absolutely no clue about what you have to say. You even curse the moment when you stood in front of that mirror and thought about yourself as being something of value. It all started from there.
However, the truth is that your self is playing against you again and telling you all the bad things about you that you are actually not. This is the illusion of the self when you believe with considerable confidence in the assumption that you made earlier that you exist along with all your mental faculties intact and in good order.
The crux of the discourse we have had so far is that your self tells you good things about yourself while in reality that might not be the case. At the same time it can tell you bad things about yourself while actually you are not too bad either. Actually as a matter of fact, by continuous practice in trying to improve upon a few things you can become better and better.
Now try to relax! If you have read it so far, you have made great progress. Even if you have not understood everything in this article, it is alright. The mere fact that you have been reading this article till this point means that your curiosity has drawn your considerable attention to the subject matter this article is trying to cover. You need to be complemented about this. Congratulations!
Assuming that you have understood that your self deceives you in ways that you do not understand well, you have to find some remedies. In this paragraph and in what follows we can try to find a few remedies. First of all try to learn to relax. having a relaxed personality can enhance your performance manifold at many tasks. In order to develop a relaxed personality that you can do many things. However, I presume that meditation is one of the best cures. There are many meditation techniques that are available online and you can choose the one that suits you the best.
The second thing is to work hard. There is no shortcut to hard work. And with hard and persistent effort you can achieve anything you can conceive and that your heart can believe. The third thing is to do what you love to do. This has been emphasized by many gurus and success preachers. It is a self evident truth that there is nothing you can do well than what you love to do.
Having said this, the fourth advice is to try to pursue decent goals and develop humane ambitions. This is quite self explanatory. The fifth thing is to try to learn to be confident. Actually if you pay due heed to the above advice, self confidence will automatically follow. Never mind if you are low on self confidence right now. Just try to console yourself with the idea that everyone suffers from this syndrome time and again. There are a few who are perpetual sufferers and there are many who have recurring episodes of low self confidence. The sixth advice is that while you should not overestimate yourself you should not do the converse as well.
The last tip is to try to understand that your self plays tricks on you. This means that while you should not believe that you are Hercules, you should also not think about yourself to be completely irrelevant. When that happens with you, think that anyone can have these kinds of feelings. Even as I am approaching the end of this article, there is already a plan developing in mind to tell me that how the heck did I manage to write this article at all. Always remember that your best self is when you are cool, calm and confident on the day when you actually have to deliver that speech you were really scared of.