Self: Here I Am
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | December 2016 (edited 2017)
The consciousness of self is complex. We are dynamic beings interacting with ever-changing environments. For stability, we need a concept of self. Too firm a concept and we are limited and deceived, to weak and we have no anchor.
The broken soul bounces chaotically between experiences. They may convincingly discuss psychological implications of their behavior, and then ignore the wisdom, behaving in unsuspected and destructive ways. The fluent language centers of their brain appear disconnected from the emotional impulses guiding their behaviors. They lack coherency of beliefs, values and actions. Without coherency, lives become chaotic. Without the inner-stability of coherency, we lose consistency. We become reactionary creatures, not defined by the self but by the current environment. The inconsistency of behavior creates an unknowable self. Until internal controls are established, gently guiding choice toward internally determined goals, the self remains unknown.
The self is complex, even the most coherent person, must face large shadows in the interior landscape of their soul. Consciousness is a late comer to life. Organisms lived and thrived millions of years before conscious existence emerged. Our biological functioning occurs largely without conscious control. The self—an object of consciousness—becomes the anchor of thought and meaning. We conceive of an object acting and thinking—the self. From the fixed point of self, we interpret the world, creating meaning out of the chaos. But the self is dynamic, expanding and retracting with experience. We never comprehensively understand the entire self. Behaviors, thoughts and feelings may spontaneously burst into existence unexpectedly.
But the self can’t exist independently. We are part of a more complex chain of life, leaning, relying and supporting each other. The self can’t exist without the community and the community can’t exist without the collective selves. Individuals must find balance between being internally directed and remaining sensitive to community needs. The ideal self consists of a smooth blend of social connectedness and internal coherences. Internal values to create purpose but implementing enough flexibility to connect with others. Healthy living exists between the rigid structure of purpose and the chaotic flimsiness of impulses.
Lack of coherence leaves the broken soul unanchored, expressing the lack in chaotic appeals for acceptance or emotionless manipulations. Those suffering from emptiness act, say, and promise to win acceptance; but their promises are automatic cries for acceptance and not bound with integrity. Shame covertly motivates their responses. But promises made without the coherence of self lack commitment and are easily broken, nonchalantly excused with the slightest justification. Without the coherence of self, the promises made satisfy the external pressures at the moment, later when different external pressures are present, priorities shift to satisfy the factors of that moment. The external pressure is all that exists.
A personal foundation of self adds integrity to commitments. The self continues to influence behaviors amidst changing environmental pressures, but motivation is securely grounded in long term goals. In coherency, the self exists during the original interaction mindful checking personal values, other commitments and plausibility of fulfilling a promise before consenting to future action. A strong self has flexibility, showing concern for important relationships, and making concessions but not at the expense of personal boundaries. When we waiver, the strong being recognizes their error and makes necessary corrections in a timely manner.
"Those suffering from emptiness act, say, and promise to win acceptance; but their promises are automatic cries for acceptance and not bound with integrity. "
Those who lack loyalty with commitments to others also lack loyalty with personal commitments; emotionally detached from behaviors, the external world of the moment prevails. The wavering soul lacks the essential consistency to have firm convictions. The lack of personal values is the fertile soil of justifications, denial, and deception. Patterns of hurt are excused as expedient for the situation, instead of examined for inconsistency and corrected. People can be mean, disconnected, and violent but never recognize the pain they cause through the vileness of their behavior.
When values are situational-instead of internally determined—we have no consistent guide. We are not free to act but blow back and forth with the wind like a blade of grass.
We need to heal our broken souls, giving firm guidance of internally motivated values. Identify the important characteristics you seek, and constantly examine behaviors for coherence to those values. Broken promises signal danger, screaming lack of integrity. Seek professional and supportive resources necessary to establish coherency of self, becoming a strong force in determining the behaviors of your life, inviting desired intentions to fruition. When we become people of integrity—people of honor, our life changes in powerful ways.