Saturday, November 11, 2006

Discovering the Forgotten Self

In an industrial, capitalist society, we become conditioned as our functions. Rather than being treated as our whole selves, we are raised to perform functions in work and family life. The most prevalent question posed to children that embodies this concept is, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answer, of course, is a function - "a fireman, a teacher, a writer". Especially with girls, the question regarding family relates to what size of family or what kind of family one would like. Limiting one's being to functions strips us of the ability to actualize our whole selves. Imagine a girl responding, "I'd like to live with my sister until I get old" or "I want to be a person who is aware and kind." The response would be more leading questions to steer her back onto the designated path: "What do you really want your family to look like?", "What else do you want to do?", "Why are you saying that?"

Part of the journey to wholeness and integration is the discovery of what lies underneath self-concepts that develop based on function and identity. Discovering this "other" you is often avoided through a host of preoccupations - obsessive work, games, socializing, or other behaviors - because there is a certain grief in coming to terms with having ignored, denied, or suppressed the entirety of oneself. There can be a growing recognition that 'who you think that you are' is a socially constructed function that is actually very limiting. Going beyond functional identity can be a difficult and painful journey - the realization of the original loss and also the discovery the forgotten self. However, if you can take this road, a new life will begin that is experienced externally as the world being open and inviting, as if seen for the first time.

Ask yourself in the morning, what you were like as a child? Do you remember your whole self before the questions began?