What is our real ‘self’?
Are all of us, at a deeper level, just a blob of flesh accompanied by a recorder (brain)?
A recorder that is blank as we are born. Such blankness, one that is devoid of contortions of others’ (and even our own) opinions of ourselves? That state of innocence, the one we see in babies – is that our true ‘self’?
As we grow, the recorder accumulates opinions, thoughts, facts and what not. It is slowly ‘conditioned’ into something! Now, is that ‘something’ our ‘self’? How can something that is influenced by the ‘environment’ be our ‘self’? Unless, of course, that environment itself is our ‘self’.
Now, what is the truth?
Let us keep that question aside for now.
As we grow, we gather experiences. Both good and bad. Sadly, we turn conscious of ourselves too. The world is unforgiving and judgemental, we assume. We will be rejected if we are flawed, we think. We won’t be loved if we don’t put up the best image of ourselves, we think. Oh, that means we cannot allow our flaws to be visible, we panic.
We go to great lengths to avoid exposing them.
Those flaws turn into ‘hidden secrets’ about ourselves. Deep inside, we are aware of it, but we just can’t allow our fragile selves to be exposed. The fear of being judged is very real. Worse is the fear of being ‘rejected’. So we build a bubble around us, where we roam around wearing ‘masks’ that protect us from revealing our secrets!
These masks come in various flavours. Money, achievements, power, love, status, societal adherence, etc. They help us face a judgemental world, or so we fool ourselves. Fool ourselves, because, deep inside we know we are hypocrites hiding behind shiny perfect masks. Worse, these masks do not even serve the intended purpose.
As we scramble from one achievement to another, one bank balance to another, we keep running in fear – not realising that there’s no end to this madness. Before long, we find ourselves in golden cages. Then we wonder what happened to us! That’s when life hits you – mid life crisis, existential vacuum, a feeling of hypocrisy and yet, an unwillingness to allow yourself to fully express it – because here too, you cannot be seen as flawed.
The perfect image you carried all through just doesn’t let you do that. You seethe inside, alone. You have a long list of friends, yet no one to confide in. That’s when depression visits you. Soon, it is deeply anchored in your daily life. Days feel empty. It is strange because on the outside, you seem to have a lot of things going for you. The perplexity is even more harder to comprehend.
That’s when you are forced to take a hard look at life. You realise that all those labels that you find so hard to shed are the root cause of all the pain.
Can you garner the courage to get rid of those?
Could you just stand still for a while? Can you take a deep breath and relax? Can you face your insecurity in the eye and say, ‘I no longer want to run away from it, let me face it?’
When you throw those unnecessary masks away and face your deep insecurities and fears, that is when you can be yourself, without fear or judgement. That is when you can be free.
Can you free yourself?