The Self is the essence of who we are. It is not our stories of too much or not enough. It is not filled with shame.
It is us. You. Me. At our core. Beyond the hurts of this life and past generations.
It is not our Ego. It is beyond our Ego and yet the Ego is part of our Self. Our Self is our Shadow and Light, our feminine and masculine, our unconscious and consciousness, our body, mind, spirit and soul. It is the whole of who we are, what makes me, me; what makes you, you.
Our Self is who we are once we have stripped ourselves down to our bones.
We spend the first half of our lives disconnected from our Self. We are fully in our Ego in childhood, young adulthood and on into our thirties. During this first part of our life we concentrate on all the external manifestations of our Ego – home, career, our place in the world, differentiating from parents and other authority figures. When we come to our late thirties and forties, when our ego is pretty much completely developed, we move on to the next phase of life: the re-integration of all we have separated from during the first half of our life; we learn to connect to our shadow, our inner wild woman (or man), the parts of us we have ignored or stuffed down.
We live in a culture that encourages this cycle – for us to spend the first half of our life disconnecting from our body, our mind, our spirit, our soul and then spend the entire second half of our life learning to reconnect to this lost part of us.
It seems after thirty to forty years most of us start to have a yearning for something more that what we have been told is important. We begin to question everything we have be taught, we start to rebuke the expectations and “shoulds” our families and culture has foisted upon us. A few have this yearning at a younger age. Some may seem to develop this yearning for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the struggles of daily survival. (If you are focused on figuring out how you are both making rent and feed the kids this month it is challenging to say the least to focus on “personal growth.”)
So, it could be said that the desire to connect with our Self is part of our developmental process. Or at least, as people living in a patriarchal culture. And if we are more honest, it is for people who have the privilege of having the time and energy to focus on this “next stage.”
Yes it is hard and messy work. It is the work that must be done for us to free ourselves and our brothers and sisters from the oppressive culture we live in. As we are able to self reflect, to connect to our voice, and frankly to stop giving any fucks about what others think of us or whether or not we have “caught up” with the Jones, we are also able to see the many injustices in the world. Including the ones we ourselves have contributed to.
With this self-awareness we can start to do different. Be different. We can speak out against racism, misogyny, bigotry, and oppression and to demand the systems change. We may not in mid-life have the same fervor of those in their twenties, but what we don’t have in youthful energy we can make up for in wisdom, in being conscious, mindful and intentional, with our ability to look forward and back while also being firmly rooted in the present.
The more connected to our Self we become, the less “right” we feel compelled to be. Which translates to being able to learn, to admit our wrongs, to make amends where possible and appropriate and to do our level best to be more mindful and aware of our words and deeds in the future.
I believe this “re-connection” with our Self starts with coming back into our body. Feeling her. Noticing her whispers and sensations. Listening to her stories and wisdom. We are told from such a young age how our body is not our own, how it is not enough, how it is too fat or thin, curvy or flat. We are taught to torture her by withholding food or overexerting ourselves in the name of burning calories. We are told to use her as collateral for love and conditional respect. We learn quickly to leave her during the first beating or rape. We feel betrayed by her, even though we are the ones who have done the betraying.
So, we begin with our breath. And noticing. And soon we can sense emotions as they bubble within before they boil over. Then we learn to feel her, all her gurgles and aches and tingles. We learn to sit in discomfort, not rushing to fix or medicate. We start to listen, truly listen and then hear and next honor the wisdom that she holds in her fibers.
Our body, mind, spirit and soul are all deeply connected. I believe we truly cannot connect to our spirit or soul until we learn to feel comfortable in our own skin, in our body, and to be able to listen to her without effort. To trust her and her knowing.
Reconnecting to our Self is coming home again. Home to our body. Home to our innate knowing. Home to our soul. Home to who we are meant and want to be in this world.
Are you ready to come home to you?
I talk more about this idea of what the Self is and reconnecting to it in this video below. It’s just over 20 minutes long, so go ahead and make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine and settle in.
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This blog post and video are part of a series to introduce my 12-month circle Wild Woman Within :: (Re)Connecting to our forgotten knowing. You can learn more about the circle and request an application right here.
Want to see the other posts in this series? Here’s a list:
Reconnection with our Self (this post)