This Lenten Safari is a declaration that it is time out for continuing to do things that only make us feel good in the short-term; we must move beyond that to do what it takes to be good for the long haul. So, on this second day of our 40 Days 2 Blissful Authenticity, we will briefly look at the core issue of True Self versus False Self.
Now, what exactly is the True Self and the False Self? Well, the famous British psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott was the first to introduce the terms to differentiate these aspects of personality. As you can imagine, the True Self represents a sense of self that is authentic and grounded in a healthy sense of ‘being’ and spontaneity, while the False Self projects a sense of self that is defensive and grounded in an unhealthy distortion of the ego and a need to be in control. We all sport both aspects as parts of our personalities. It’s like our divinity versus our humanity or like Jesus versus Nicodemus as Mark Nepo suggests in The Book of Awakening. In his book Nepo states that, “…we each carry a Jesus and a Nicodemus within us; that is, we each have a divine inner voice that opens us to truth and a mediating social voice that is reluctant to show its truth to others.” While in the wilderness, Satan tried to get Jesus to act out of his False Self, and likewise everyday we face people, situations, circumstances that tempt us to do likewise.
“Thus, in daily ways, whether we live in our True or False Self depends on our willingness to stay real. And so, over time, staying real becomes the work of keeping our actions in the world connected to the truth of our inner being, allowing our True Self to see the light of day.”
- Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
As the whole premise for this Lenten Safari is not simply to refrain but to reform, not simply to pray but to be prepared, not simply to constrain our consumption but to confront our delusions, we have to acknowledge which is our go-to, default self. We have to determine whether we are living a divided life like “Nic(odemus) at Night.” Then we have to “choose for…(ourselves)…(every)day whom…(we) will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) And even “when we catch ourselves in the act of split living, (that moment) is also the recurring chance for us to honor once again what we know to be true.” (Nepo) In essence, it is not about perfectly living in the True Self but humbly acknowledging that we all have a False Self, and armed with that truth, we can make better and more conscious choices to more fully and more consistently embody the True Self.
I know it’s only the second day into the safari, but I have a rather personal question to ask you: Are you ready to get naked . . . before God that is? Listen, this is serious and we’ve all had a lifetime of neutralizing our fears and insecurities only for them to pop up again and again in new, inventive, and even old ways. The reality is that healing only happens when we are ready to expose the place where the sickness is wreaking havoc. We can’t heal from what we continue to hide from.
Like I said before, the safari is FREE, but it will COST you something…are you ready to pay the price?
RECOMMENDED PRACTICE: Before you go to bed, spend at least 10 minutes in silence and recap the day just noticing when True Self or False Self was operating without judging yourself, and without writing it down. Then take another 5 minutes to give gratitude, and writing is permitted for this part.
Tara LaShawn Seabrook is a self-proclaimed “free spirit,” a public, practical, and prophetic theologian; a spiritual and social justice activist; a creative and cultural artist; and a prolific teacher, speaker, and writer. Currently, she resides in Guatemala where she is finishing up a 2-year volunteer in mission commitment with a non-governmental organization before returning to her native Charleston, SC in the spring of 2017. Her book based on her original poem, “I Am She: The Anthology” will be released later this year.