“I’m getting to know myself.”
“I’ve lost myself.”
“I learned to come back to myself.”
This week I’m thinking of these phrases, and others like it. When we read those sentences, we intellectually understand the message they’re sending. We know what these phrases mean.
It gets interesting when we really examine them though, a little bit deeper.
All of these examples suggest two subjects.
I am getting to know myself.
I lost myself.
The I and the myself are referring to two different entities here.
They must be, because if I and myself were one, there would be no self to know, no self to lose.
So it gets me wondering: in contexts like this, what’s the difference between I and myself?
When you say something like “I’ve lost myself,” what does that mean?
You certainly haven’t physically lost yourself, because you are still breathing and can see yourself in a mirror.
You haven’t mentally lost yourself, because you still have awareness of your thoughts.
Maybe “I’ve lost myself” is another way of saying, “I haven’t been acting like myself.”
If your self is just your brain and your body, though, you have been acting like yourself. Your actions are executed by the same body you’ve always had. Your thoughts are bouncing around that same old mind.
And yet, so many of us have experienced this – that very real, deep feeling of having lost yourself.
This self that you yearn for is beyond your mind and your body. Those are always, at their core, the same in time and space. So this feeling of losing yourself or coming back to yourself – it suggests something deeper.
There’s this transcendent you that rises above all of the thinking and the feeling and the acting. When you feel like you’ve lost yourself, you are so disconnected from that you. You are stuck in the thinking and feeling and acting, as if that’s all there is.
Some people call this you ‘spirit’ or ‘soul.’ Some people call it ‘the witnessing self’ or ‘the observing self.’ I also like, just simply, ‘the transcendent self.’
When you feel anxious or sad or scared or irritable, notice what you’re identifying with. Are you wrapped up in your thinking? Are you taking on your feelings and actions as your identity?
You must remember, truly, that you are more than your thinking and your feeling and your behaving. Your transcendent you is always there, through thick and thin. When you feel like you’ve lost yourself, remember that you always have a home in this space of witnessing.
[photo found here via pinterest]