How Your Now Self Was Createdsam
Re-Creating Your Self
By Christopher Stone
Previously, I asked you to write a description of Your Now Self – the person you are right now. That’s because it’s essential to know your self more fully before re-creating any aspect of your life.
This column reveals How Your Now Self Was Created. We’re exploring how the person you described in Adventure 1 came to be. We’re examining several questions: Did you create Your Now Self? Is Your Now Self the real you?
Please note this column is not titled “How You Created Your Now Self. That’s because the person you described in Adventure 1 was largely formed by the influential people from your childhood. In other words, you are not a self-made man or woman; the person you are right now was formed primarily by others, not by your self.
Exactly who created Your Now Self? Here’s a partial list of contributors: Parents. Grandparents. Siblings. Guardians. School teachers. Clergypersons. Friends. Neighbors. The Media. The Arts. Advertisers.
When did these contributors begin shaping the person you know as your self? They began before you were born – most probably before you were even conceived. The creation of Your Now Self likely began with your parents’ first thoughts about what they wanted for their children – thoughts your parents probably entertained when they were children. Classic ideas such as, When I have a kid of my own, I’m going to be nicer than my parents. Or, I’m going to see that my kids have a better childhood than I. And, in a real way, the beliefs and expectations that your grandparents, ancestors, older siblings, teachers, religious, political and social leaders brought to the table, also worked to shape Your Now Self even before you took your first breath.
How did these contributors create Your Now Self? They convinced you to accept their beliefs about your self, others, and the world in general. They defined reality for you. They did it in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways: by example, by repeated suggestion (aka hypnosis), by teaching and preaching. If you questioned their ideas, you often heard something like this: “I’m your parent-teacher-preacher-etc., and I know what’s best for you. Other times, you were asked to accept the beliefs of influential others under the penalty of eternal damnation, or, even worse, a failing grade. Yes, it’s not unusual for even well-meaning, if misguided, authority figures to use fear and guilt to mold you into the person they want you to be. And, even the most rebellious among you were not immune.
In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Evita, the title character sings about how she shapes the lives of Argentine children. “Yes, get them while they’re young, Evita, get them while they’re young,” sings the character Che’, in knowing response. He understands what most adults realize, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” In other words, “Spoon feed your beliefs to children and you shape them in your image – once and for all time.” That is, unless they re-create themselves at some point.
Why did the influential others in your life impose their beliefs upon you? In most cases, it wasn’t because they were bad, controlling people. Chances are they were convinced that their personal beliefs about how life ”works” were facts of life, and not simply their own personal beliefs. They considered it their responsibility to pass these “facts” on to you. If they were guilty of anything, it was ignorance: an ignorance passed on from one generation to another. Quite simply, most people don’t know the difference between their personal beliefs and the incontestable facts of life – of which there are few.
Unfortunately, you may have been born into a family whose personal beliefs were more negative than positive. If this was the case, then many of the beliefs you accepted have not contributed to your health, happiness and well-being. The people to whom you turned for guidance may have been incapable of successfully steering their own lives, much less correctly shaping yours.
Making matters worse, if you were born into 20th Century
Regrettably, the human race is going through a phase – an unmercifully long phase – during which large segments of the world’s population fear personal originality (when it is “sameness” that should terrorize them). That’s why many of the people who helped to shape your life discouraged individuality and rewarded conformity.
And that’s why Your Now Self is most probably a person not of your own creation. It follows, then, that this other-created self may not be the person you want to be, living the life you desire.
Next Up: Your Other-Created Self.
Please send your Re-Creating Your Self comments, observations and questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2008 by Christopher Stone