The True Self – Myth or Reality
There has been some publicity recently around some research that suggests that there is no such thing as the true self. The true self is the Holy Grail of counselling; it represents that sense of self wherein we are truly able to be ourselves in every moment of experience. The Counsellor will be aiming to help the client divest themselves of anything that fuels inaccurate assumptions about their immediate environment of experience.
The conclusion of the research demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the true self starting from a hypothesis that what is meant is that one is born with a ‘self’. This is not what is understood by Counsellors as the True Self. At the point of birth, arguably the point of conception, we simply represent potential based upon our unique DNA combination. The true self evolves from our experience and what we come to believe about ourselves in our world; a self that is not anxious, or threatened but content and confident in themselves in the world.
This ability to be in the moment and content in the moment is a function of complete awareness of ourselves. The role of the counsellor is to help the client first become aware of their ‘false’ or ‘conditioned’ self’. This usually arises from a greater awareness of feelings on the basis that behaviour and feelings are inextricably linked. If the Counsellor can assist the client to become more aware of their feelings then they will become more aware of the derivation of the actions which in turn generate feelings. If feelings are anxious or become symptomatic of depression the Counsellor will help the client to look closely at whether the feelings are consistent with moment or base upon assumptions that may be derived from bad experiences in the past..
Eventually when the client is able to distinguish between the pressure of their external world and determine to live by their internal values they will become more content and become their true self.