The Personality versus the Self

PART III of IV – Walking The Path

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Part I and Part II we discussed Personality as contrasted with an authentic Self and looked at some of the basic differences between the two. Then we talked about the need to slay the ‘Dragon of Shoulds’ that will attempt to dissuade you from even setting foot on the path of self-discovery. Here in Part III, we’ll discuss what might come next as you continue walking the path.

As a note of caution, if you honestly want what ‘everyone else’ seems to have, if you truly want to live as ‘normally’ as possible, then you have no need to slay the ‘Dragon of Shoulds’. Don’t bother because it takes a lot of effort. Do what you’re supposed to do and you’re squarely in the mainstream status quo game. Have fun being a personality if you can thrive on the same compensations and rewards most other people seem able to. In this case you’ll have no especially difficult path to contend with. People go along with things as they are because it’s relatively safe and easy, at least in the short-term. The path of individuation is relatively difficult because you have to continually create your own next steps.

That being said, if you do manage to get past the Dragon, I cannot advise you to do what I’ve done. I cannot advise you to follow the path I’ve followed, as it’s uniquely my own and wouldn’t do you much good in carving out a path for yourself. Yet I have learned a few things along the way that seem to be generally helpful to me that you might find useful as well.

Some might complain that the following suggestions are just another quiver of ‘shoulds’, yet these suggestions are intended to encourage you to accept yourself as you are—fully—excluding nothing. They offer no threats or punitive penalties if you fail to live up to them. Only embrace the ones you like and find helpful. Dismiss the rest with my blessings.

Dragons rarely talk like this—with this kind of ‘live and let live’ attitude—and when they do they don’t really mean it. They’re really ‘Dragons’ adept in the art of deception. Still, you do have to decide for yourself whether I’m representing the voice of the Dragon or the voice of the self.

With these caveats in mind, here’s a short list of things I’ve learned for myself over the years. They represent lessons I’ve learned over and over and still forget from time to time. Feel free to change and adapt them to meet your needs and interests:

  • In judging your personal success, consider how much of what you value most you actually manage to bring into your life and express in the way you live.

  • You will likely wind up not having what others walking different paths have. That’s the nature of walking your own path. Accept this in peace.

  • Deeply appreciate what you have that you truly value.

  • Judge yourself by the standards you value, not by those you reject. This takes practice.

  • Accept that it’s perfectly natural that you haven’t accomplished things you never aspired to achieve.

  • Remember that at times creative individuals don’t appear ‘normal’ and that’s okay.

  • Treat yourself as well as you would like others to treat you—as well as you can.

  • Consider that how you treat yourself is as important as how you treat others.

  • Feel free to say ‘no’ if that’s what best for you.

  • Stand up for yourself and don’t allow people to take advantage of you more than once.

  • Nurture your self-dependence, self-responsibility, and self-acceptance.

  • Champion your own heartfelt values and marginalize values you deeply oppose, yet don’t become a martyr about it. You want to live for your values, not die for them. This can become a delicate balancing act in practice.

  • Keep an eye out for others on the path, as connecting with them can help keep you feeling more sane and centered. Some may seem to be on their own path of self-discovery though they are really not. Some may believe they’re just going along like everyone else, when they are really walking their own unique path of discovery.

  • You don’t know something until you know it—accept this in peace.

  • If you don’t appreciate what you have, start living differently from this moment forward, because you’ve obviously fallen out of step with yourself. In other words, accept you don’t like what you’ve been creating for yourself, right this moment. Change your attitude about what you’ve done and are doing to have reached this point and imagine doing something differently. Start imagining something different right in the moment you realize you want to make a change. You may not be able to act differently immediately, but you can begin to dream and imagine differently, to recast your preferences and desires, in whatever moment you choose to. Listen to the voice of your own sincere discontent. This alone can often set subtle changes into motion.

In summary, we have explored personalities playing it safe and easy, heroic journeys, Dragon fights, creative living, imaginative individuals—many paths for many people. As you live, how you define yourself shapes your behavior toward those closest to you. The path you walk in your life serves as an example to those you care about most….

[Go to Part I] [Go to Part II] [Go to Part IV]