ethernight
true self
November 15th, 2007 03:50 pm
We all want to believe that we have a true self. That deep down inside is the "real" us. We want to believe that we are not defined by our job, our relationship, our fininancial problems and our bad habits. Because deep down inside there is the real "me" and the real "you", pristine and immutable.

Bullshit.

Human beings are highly adapatable creatures, but what that means is that we are deeply affected by our environment, whether we like it, or in fact even realize it, or not.

The way you spend your time defines you. No, not just that few hours per week or month that you may find to do the things your "true" self might want to spend time doing, but all of it. The third of your life you spend at work defines you. The time you spend in traffic. The time at the grocery store.

The people you choose to surround yourself with define you. Have you ever started spending a lot of time with someone, then noticed that you picked up some of their phrases and gestures?

The things you own define you. As much as you may want to believe you are not materialistic, the truth is the things we own become an extension of ourselves. The clothes we wear, the tools we use, these become an intergal part of the way we experience the world.

How you look defines you. It is a simple fact that people are treated differently based on how they look, and people respond to the way they are treated.

You will become your environment. So choose it well.
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From:the_xtina
Date:November 15th, 2007 - 11:58 pm
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Have you read this?
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From:ethernight
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 12:06 am
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I have now. :)
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From:minnesattva
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 12:47 am
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This has always made so much sense to me that, for as long as I can remember, I worried that there was something wrong with me: I never thought I had a secret true self just waiting and dying to get out "one day." Maybe I just lack ambition. :)
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From:a_nemix
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 01:29 am
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For sure we are shaped by the things around us as well as bring those things in that reinforce aspects of ourselves.

I expect that getting to really know someone would fundamentally alter me in the process.
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From:suburban_gypsy
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 03:26 am
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This is all hitting a bit close to home because a couple weeks ago I had to give up contact with someone who has had rather destructive patterns of dealing with things. Not what I needed in the middle of this whole restructuring-my-life thingie.

I've never subscribed to the notion of a TRUE self (you know I'm too hopelessly fluid and relative for something like that), but it never occurred to me that someone would use this notion as an excuse not to identify with everyday aspects of oneself. I guess I looked at it as a motivational tool to validate the large amount of effort and conviction necessary to be try to change oneself. In that way, "If I meditate I will discover my true self" would be akin to, "If I exercise and eat nutritious foods I will become healthier".

I'm probably looking to far into it. Enjoyable post, regardless.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 03:36 am
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You are not your things. You are not your activities. You are not your friends. You are not how people treat you.

If there is no true self, how can the self be defined by posessions?
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From:inushnu
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 06:19 am
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May I?

It is defined by your CHOICES. Wasn't that sort-of stabbed at in the entry? Eh... anyway... each possession/friend/object/idea held are all choices that, then, define a malleable "true" self. So, it doesn't exist EXCEPT in how YOU choose to define it by your choices. Follow?

Here's your homework Anon:

Research nature vs. nurture debates/sites/academic etc.

(You'll find that nurture wins the game over and over.)
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 09:15 am
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"nature vs nurture" in personality and the issue of the existence of a "true self" are two separate issues.

With respect to the first, there is ample and compelling evidence to suggest that genes (or nature) are at least as important as upbringing in determining factors such as IQ and career choice. Here is but one of thousands of articles (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/twins/twins2.htm/). Twins and other adoption studies are a great place to start asking questions of this kind.

But perhaps a better question would be, what do IQ and career choice have to do with the self? For that matter, what does personality have to do with the self? If one adopts the viewpoint that the "self" is volatile and ever-changing, can a "self" even be said to exist?

Isn't it funny when you use a word over and over and it becomes decontextualized? self self self.
From:inushnu
Date:November 16th, 2007 - 09:08 pm
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I had to do a research project in school while studying the human genome. Our topic was whether intelligence could be attributed to a gene. Twins were considered. You know what we found looking through hundreds of scientific/academic journals?

It was a hoax. There is no intelligence gene and it's rather absurd that people try to lock something so nebulous onto a freakin' gene.

People would LOVE to believe there is a "cause" for stupidity or bad manners or W/E but it's environment, culture, rearing, etc.

The "self" is a construct, just like everything else that makes you you.
From:mehninja
Date:November 18th, 2007 - 10:57 pm

I think . . .

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I'm becoming the internet.
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From:ethernight
Date:November 19th, 2007 - 01:38 am

Re: I think . . .

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That explains SO much.
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