Finding Your True Self
Who are you really? When you are at home at the end of the day and you are alone for a moment, who are you? It has been suggested that your true self is who you are when no one else is looking.
Are you the bright, energetic person you portrayed at work today, or are you the shy, sullen person you portrayed at a meeting last week? Only you can answer that question. You may not even be able to answer it right now, but rest assured, true self is personal, true self is deep, true self is complex, and true self is important.
When is the last time that you stood before a mirror and honestly, truthfully, completely looked yourself in the face and read the story of your own life? It's not something that you do every day, but have you ever done it?
Have you ever realized that you have more than one “self”? This is not to say that you have multiple personalities, which is a rare condition. But everyone has more than one self. Your selves may include the roles of a mother/father, a daughter/son, a wife/husband, an aunt/uncle, a friend, a traveler, a searcher, a teacher, a learner, a leader, and/or a follower. You may not act the same way in every role or “self.”
Deeper still, you have a public self and a private self. This complicates the issue of self-esteem further. You sometimes see yourself as a public mother and a private mother, a public son and a private son. Your history, your environment, and your own value system shape your different selves. Even without you realizing it, this duality can be very costly. Portraying two selves can cost you in terms of stress, energy, honesty, and self-esteem.
Many psychologists suggest that while we may have multiple selves, that we should focus on being one self instead of many selves.
The Public Self versus the Private Self
People may see you as bright, youthful, happy, carefree, and helpful. Are these really true depictions of yourself, or are they pictures you have painted for them to view? Your public self may sometimes be very different from your private self.
You may be afraid to let “the public” see who you really are for fear of being criticized or embarrassed. You may pretend to be something that you are not just to fit in or, at the very least, to avoid standing out. People with healthy self-esteem have found the way to blend the public and private self to form a close partnership so that the two are not diabolically juxtaposed to each other. That is to say that as a private mother or father, you would not do something that you would not consider doing as a public mother or father.
Two as One
Are you your true self, or are you the self that others want you to be? Do you behave so that others will accept you, love you, invite you places, and call you, or do you behave so that you are happy with yourself? Your self-esteem is damaged when you try to be someone or do something for the sake of others.
When you do something that goes against your inner grain, you know the internal struggle that brews. You know that your true self lost out and your “public self” or “persona” won. Self-esteem is aided when you learn to take the best of every self you have and work to make that your one self, the self to whom you are true.