Me, Myself and I
One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself
– Leonardo DaVinci
Throughout our work as Healthcare Professionals, we often give our patients advice to rest, improve their diet, take regular exercise or take medication. In cases where the patient’s mental wellbeing is suffering, we might suggest tools like mindfulness, meditation, the use of a thought diary and examining, challenging, and reframing harmful narratives and negative core beliefs.
As humans, often when we are offered advice such as this we move into resistance. This is because, although we are ‘stuck’, we are safe. From the perspective of the subconscious or the psyche, we have always been this way. We have survived like this so far, and any change, however beneficial we consciously know that it will be, is seen as perilous by the psyche.
This is the challenge that we all face when we undertake to change our habits for the better.
When we move into resistance, we hear ourselves giving perfectly good reasons as to why the new system will not work for us.
For example: I can’t because of my past experiences, it won’t change my diagnosis, It’s not going to work for me, I’m too tired, I can’t afford it, I might lose out, I don’t understand how to do it.
These reasons for stagnancy are all fairly easy to challenge but the most interesting reason for remaining stuck that we hear regularly sounds like this:
“I won’t be able to do that – I know me. I know what I’m like.”
Who is this ‘me’ that the ‘I’ is speaking of?
If there are two people in the sentence and I am one; then who on Earth is the other?
In an autobiographical section of his large body of work, Eckhart Tolle describes asking himself exactly this question at a very dark moment in his life. What followed was a profound awakening to consciousness and the beginning of his quest to bring his findings to the rest of the world.
Let us explore that question then:
Who is this ‘me’ That I speak of?
It is the ’me’ that cannot and will not for so many reasons. It appears to be a full stop and an immovable object. When we hear this from patients, it is the ’me’ they have no control over, who is separate from them and who’s fault it is that they are doomed to failure.
When we externalise our concept of Self in this way, we can allow it to limit us. We fall victim to it. It is protected from challenge from others because if we, who know ourselves better than anyone knows us, cannot challenge it, then no-one can. The failure is set in stone.
If this is our concept of self, then it is also the ’me’ that we describe to others. The ‘approved’ model. It is the collection of characteristics and labels that we have both given to ourselves and accepted from others throughout our lives. It is our unique view of ‘Self’ including our negative core beliefs. It is who we have agreed to be.
We are wise if we do not admonish ourselves for this behaviour. We do it out of an unconscious drive to be accepted and to fit in. It ensures our survival, and it is inherent to being human.
This ‘me’ is not who we are. It is who we think we are, and it limits us.
The good news is, that as soon as we become aware of this type of resistance, it begins to loosen its grip on us.
When you step into resistance, simple observation is always the place to start.
When you hear yourself claiming that you are not able to do something because you know your ‘self’ too well, or because it simply isn’t ‘you’ notice that you are actually referring to a separate and limited version of Self. Know that this version of self exists only as a construct in your mind.
When you observe yourself engaging in this type of dialogue press pause
“Who is this ‘me’ that I am speaking of?”
Sit with that. See if you can write a detailed description of the ‘self’ to whom you are referring.
Describe her in 50 words. What are her likes/dislikes? Her aptitudes and shortcomings?
Most importantly, what was it about her that made you so sure that she would not be up to the task?
Write it down
Now distil from your descriptions the core beliefs about this version of ‘self’ that were so limiting to the task.
Are they really true?
Now reframe them. Write newly reframed versions of those limiting beliefs that truly resonate with you. These are your truth.
Use the following article for guidance on reframing to help you to do this:
Now place those truths written somewhere that you can see them regularly.
Whenever you find yourself engaging in ‘me, myself and I’ in future, you can affirm your new truth and set yourself free.
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For more information about reframing and self-mastery see our book ‘How to Rise’