Formalizing Self.

Give (something) a definite structure or shape.

A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.

The Mind Well shit, I just got beaten at chess. I thought I was good.
The Self I’m afraid I’m not good enough. This is bad. I feel bad. I need to get better.
The Mind The other guy was pro, though. He was way too good for me.
The Mind He seems to be popular in the community as well, let me check him out online.
The Self I’m afraid I’m not good enough. This is bad. I feel bad. I need to get better.
The Mind Oh wow, he’s won state championships. Oh well, not bad, I came close.
The Mind He runs his own two startups as well! Damn, that’s cool, he’s living the life.
The Mind Pays to go to ivy league, I guess.
The Self I’m afraid I’m not good enough. This is bad. I feel bad. I need to get better.
The Mind Dinner plans?

The Mind always tries its best to bury the Self.

“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.”
Billie Jean King.

As of the time of this post (April 2016), I’m 23 and have had a pretty happy life so far. But then, is happiness the end or is it the means to an end? If I feel sad, does that make it an objectively bad state of mind from which I need to eject? What makes sadness unpleasant and happiness pleasant? Is feeling pleasant the goal? What the hell are sadness and happiness anyway? As a result of this disillusionment with my understanding of, and relationship with my own goddamn emotions, I’ve recently been making an effort to try and formalize the concept of the Self. This document is intended as a stream-of-consciousness type log on my interpretations of my Self and the models that I come up with that conform to my experiences of it.

There are tons of abstractions on top of the Self, and this Wikipedia article is a terrific start. What follows is merely my own version, which may or may not be similar to existing ones. None of it is fact; I just decided to model my Self that way because it floats my boat well, y’know?

In fact, if you haven’t, try making your own version to help you understand your Self better! The long introspection and experimenting it takes will lead you to a heightened sense of self-awareness and will put you closer to the one person in the world who knows and cares about you the most: You. I promise.

On Purpose.

The only things worth seeking are purpose and anything that gives us it. Everything else is just an offshoot that falls into place when there’s purpose. Self-awareness is the ultimate purpose, as it lends purpose to something whose inherent purpose we spend a lot of time burying - the Self and its purpose of survival.

If we’re afraid, it’s not because we lack courage. It’s because we lack purpose. Everyone has fear; courageous people just have a stronger purpose that chokes their fear out. A cornered animal is more likely to fight than one that’s free to run, because it has singular and strong purpose. Very few pranksters would prank people in public if there wasn’t a camera following them around. The camera gives them purpose. Crappy example, but you get the idea.

Purpose gives you a clear path and blurs the rest out.

Seek purpose.

Everything is about You. Just You.

The fundamental purpose of the Self is survival. We’re primates designed to survive. Survival happens when the Self takes any and all experiences and inserts itself into it. Got dumped? The Self is mad and wants to fix that. Bodybuilders at the gym make you feel bad? The Self is mad and wants to fix that. Though survival sounds too crude a term, these are survival instincts. The fittest survive, and it’s only natural that we want to climb to the top and be among the fittest.

In short, our Self wants to make everything solely about Us. The more we let it do that, the better our ego functions. The only constant in our life is our own life story, so everything is about ourselves. Our Self already thinks the world revolves around us. Being aware of this is the first step towards knowing when to harness it instead of running away from it.

Consider a common source of sadness today - comparing our lives to others.

Let’s say I’m 10, I’m generally happy, but I’m jealous of the rich kid in class. I go home and cry about his new bike. I’m consoled, but I flip the bird and continue bawling. The world owes me a new bike, and I’d do anything to get it.

Now I’m 17, I’m generally happy, but the talented, bright kid in class depresses me. I hang out with friends, have mundane fun for catharsis, and gratify my sadness away. The world is one happy moment away from being blissful again.

Now I’m 21, and I’ve grown fairly resistant to sadness by learning to focus on my upsides and drowning it in self-absorption. I run into a jacked athlete at a marathon, and that causes woe. I tell myself I’m good at other things and that I’m unique. Or maybe I tell myself that my problems are petty in the larger picture. The world is the oyster of my rationality.

Ironically, though the 10-year old did not have maturity of expression, he had a healthier ego. The 17- and 21-year olds just ran away from their Selves.

The real world is not reality.

Reality is within us where our Self exists, while the real world is outside where our tangible perception and thoughts exist.

Yourself and your Self are two very different entities.

You exist in the real world, and your Self exists within you - alone, unique and beautiful. Nothing can get through to it. Literally nothing that happens in the real world can get to your inner reality unless you choose to let it through. This is most empowering.

So what do you choose to let through? Remember, anything that your Self touches becomes personal, about you, just you. True empathy, for example, is when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel for yourself.

Think. But feel before you think.

Consider a coil spring. It has two states, rest and tension, and one purpose, to maintain rest.

Your Self is your coil spring and your emotions are your masses. While you’re indulging in gratifying thoughts and dopamine rushes in the real world, your inner reality has your emotions desperately trying to compress your coil spring. Tragically, you never let that happen, because your tangible mind has piled up a myriad of thoughts and whatnot on top of the Self. What if you could dig your way through to your coil spring whenever you want to? What if you could experience true emotions without drowning them out in thoughts?

What if when you’re down, you can just, you know, feel down?

Just like a coil spring that wants to go back to rest, the Self wants to go back to peace when it’s under stress. The only way it can do that is by fulfilling the very unfulfilled purpose that caused the stress in the first place. If you got beaten at a sport you love, the Self wants to fix that by re-establishing the part of your identity which contains that sport, which is by getting better at the sport. The mind wants to fix that with easy dopamine.

Thoughts that bubble up from the Self into the mind are pure and motivational - they’re calls for action. Thoughts that are manufactured in the mind are lazy, hacky and insincere most of the time - they’re shortcuts to happiness. Nothing is worse than a compressed Self obscured by a blissfully ignorant mind.

Your Self seeks whatever fulfills its purpose.

The Self builds purpose from the real world, and never seeks things that do not synergize with that purpose. Say, I seek better footballing skills. Footballers inspire me, golfers don’t. Tiger Woods might inspire me with his success and excellence but never with his golf, because golf is simply not part of my purpose. Though I only play football recreationally, my Self has built it into my identity as a very small part, and that contributes to my purpose.

Like I mentioned, the Self can only restore peace by fulfilling a purpose, but the mind does not need to do this, it can go back to peace through meaningless gratification. My Self never seeks alcohol to dunk my problems in, my mind does. Happiness in the mind does not equate to peace in the Self. When we can dig through to the Self and let it work on getting its peace back, that is when we have true peace - peace through restoration of identity. That’s us letting the Self work on its survival instincts - putting our identity, the I, back in place.

That you’re alone is the most liberating thought.

The Self is alone, it doesn’t need others. It doesn’t have needs. Your reality is just you, there is no one else. The mind, in the real world, has needs.

Emotions put you in touch with your Self because they compress your coil spring. And this makes you feel alone. Your Self is aware of this; it’s already a master of being alone and in harmony with itself. But your mind has a hard time dealing with that, so it goes off to fix the ominous feeling by indulging in real world banalities and burying the emotions within.

In essence, we end up seeking from those who are seekers. Validation, acceptance, approval - we’re seeking things from people who are seeking things themselves, and no one’s giving us anything. Essentially, we feel lonely because we’re not getting anything enduring from anyone. What if we don’t ever need anything binding from anyone, and everything we ever seek is either within our own reach or simply an accessory towards a purpose? If we stop seeking from others, doesn’t that mean we stop attaching our identity to things that we inadvertently get from them, positive or negative, anyway?

What if we abundantly give to, instead of seek from? Win-win, right?

Fear is the only weapon you have.

Just like the coil spring, the Self has only two states, peace and fear. Everything you feel, will feel, and have ever felt, is a manifestation of fear. Sadness, insecurity, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, jealousy, rejection, everything. All of these compress your coil spring and threaten your identity, making you feel lonely and doubting your place in the world.

Peace is when your identity is strongly in place. The Self is in perfect consonance with the concept of You. Fear is when this identity is threatened; it is the compressed state of the Self which it tries hard to get out of. Fear is not just your single most important weapon, it’s your only weapon - because it is literally the only palpable state of the Self that kicks its survival instincts into gear. Just like a coil spring that’s never compressed, a Self that’s always at peace is worthless.

And no, happiness doesn’t exist in the Self. Happiness exists only in the mind because your Self is naturally at peace, and will go back to peace if allowed to do so.

Perfection is an illusion.

The Self knows your purpose, and anything that hinders your purpose is a weakness. Not being rich isn’t a weakness if money is not part of your purpose; that’s simply your mind playing out its insecurities. If your purpose entails a strong physique, a weak physique is a weakness. If it doesn’t, a weak physique simply isn’t a weakness. If you find your Self seeking a strong physique, it’s because that’s part of its purpose.

The Self is stateless; it simply cannot have weaknesses. Weaknesses exist only in your mind and body, and self-awareness helps in fixing them because the Self knows nothing other than to fix things the hard/right way.

Perfection is an illusion because it preaches an objective state in a subjective world.

There is nothing to fix.

“Whatever happens, happens for good.”

Your life is literally just the story of your mind and body feeding real world experiences to your Self so it can build an identity and a purpose, weeding out weaknesses as you go along. When purpose exists, weaknesses exist, so if there are no weaknesses, there is no purpose, and hence no life. There is no bad; anything and everything that happens is part of the story, and the story wouldn’t be complete without it. As a result, you were not, and you will not be, you just are.

There is nothing to fix. Period. Your Self is already faultless, and the weaknesses of your mind and body are what make you you.

Lack of awareness is the only real weakness.

The only objective weakness is ignorance or the lack of awareness. Being blind to your purpose jails your mind and body; self-awareness frees them. Let mind and body play out their desires, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses, and absorb everything from the real world unimpeded, while you filter all your emotions down to your Self - compressing it, setting its survival gears into motion, letting it mould and chisel you. This way, instead of curbing your mind, you get to satiate its desires, while simply having the awareness and ability to reset back to your Self and let it re-establish your purpose at any time.

All your problems are tangible stuff from external life that simply can’t get through to your inner reality, and if you trust your Self with the emotions that you experience, your Self will work in tandem with your mind and body to fix them for you.

Work from bottom-to-top, addressing your Self first before you bring your mind into the pitch, because top-to-bottom is where your mind runs in first and pollutes the field. Keep your coil spring as active as possible. Seek out real world experiences that can potentially fuel your Self by compressing it with emotions. An active, throbbing Self directly translates to an active, throbbing life.

On courage and compassion.

Troy Barnes Let me ask you something. People have been clowning me about this jacket since I got here but if I take it off to make them happy, that just makes me weak. Right?
Jeff Winger Listen, it doesn’t matter. You lose the jacket to please them; you keep it to piss them off. Either way, it’s for them. That’s what’s weak.

Not seeking from others is halfway to couragetown. Purpose is the rest of the way. Your Self already has both, because to your Self, everything’s just about you and your purpose. Even when your Self is under tension, its fear is about internal self-improvement, not about external things. The mind has fears about external things. It likes to brew them, in fact. By addressing your Self before your mind, you’ve already eliminated the possibility of your mind brewing shit up.

Compassion is when you realize that everyone’s living their unique life story just like you, and that you have the power to contribute something to their story. You can acknowledge that everyone has their own weaknesses, and can spot these weaknesses when they manifest themselves in them. If someone tries to ruin your day, you see their anger or lack of empathy and understand that it is simply a weakness they have, instead of letting your day be ruined by hatred.

We only truly hate people from whom we seek; if we seek from no one, there’s no hatred to go around. Hatred is something that’s inherently about someone else; it cannot exist in the self, as the Self is only about you. People who compress your coil spring for you are your benefactors; emotions are a precious commodity for your Self and they’re giving them to you for free.

On art and expression.

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Bruce Lee

Art holds a great parallel to the duality of human nature. There is no good or bad art, there’s only original art and unoriginal art, which isn’t art anyway. Original art comes from the Self, through the mind - it is made by artists for themselves, and it directly affects the Self of the consumer, invoking empathy. Unoriginal art is superficial and comes from the mind - it is doctored to please, and is made for others.

Expression is about free-flowing thought and action. The Self is expressive by nature because it is original and unadulterated. A stronger relationship with the Self can lead to a more expressive mind and body. All art is expressive, and anything expressive is art.