Book by: Mark R. Leary 👆🏾
When you think of self, what comes to mind? Your uniqueness, your smile, your sense of style, your abilities, your secrets, or maybe your DNA strands.
Most of us rarely think about others or the environment, when we think of self. After all it is “self” right, not others 😁. We don’t often think about the impact of our everyday encounters on our sense of self; as we navigate through the aspects of our lives: economic, education, labor, law, politics, entertainment, religion, sex and our mental and emotional processes. Every thought, every overt behavior, stem from our perception of what we filter in, through the senses. From our name, down to this idea of “self” we refer to, in attempt to distinguish ourselves from the rest. We may not constantly think about the influences that led to our educational and career path, our sexual orientation, etc. But we certainly can argue that those decisions are being influenced continuously.
Webster defines “self” as a person’s essential being, what distinguishes that person from others.
If we think about the distinguishing entities often used to define our “self”, what separate us apart, those elements are institutional-based classifications; name, age, body type, identification cards; down to the more intimate items, such as hobbies, preferences and personalities. All of these units are labeled/categorized by others, influenced by others, but most importantly found in others. Even down to one’s soul, which is often argued as a unique entity to one’s self, but isn’t really unique. The theory started in Greek methodology, and have since suffered various interpretations.
I am not arguing against our ability to process our own thoughts and make our own decisions, I simply believe that the differences between “self” and others are time and choices. Most of us go through life defining ourselves through similar aspects, but we live through these aspects in different times and we choose different paths. Without forgetting that we steer through these aspects based on the same life sustaining essentials: air, water, food, shelter , and human interaction.
So before we get lost in our egocentric ideas, let’s remember the words of Suzy Kassem: “One but many”
If you feel that your social class, education, wealth, beliefs, abundance or lack of melanin makes you significantly different from the rest of us, and it somehow defines your sense of “self”. Most importantly, if you believe that your sense of self makes you significantly better than us, then please enlighten me!