Episode 5: Cultivating A Healthy Sense Of Self
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Episode 5: Cultivating A Healthy Sense Of Self
Have you ever wondered what the key to living a truly rewarding and fulfilling life is? I will be sharing with you the prerequisite for living the life of your dreams and how to find it. In this episode, we’ll be focusing on developing the foundation for living an ideal life, namely developing a healthy sense of self. Without a healthy sense of self, it’s as if you’re building your life on quicksand and you continuously need to struggle to try and keep yourself afloat. If you can relate to that experience, then I’m glad you’re here. We’ll be talking about how to establish a solid foundation on which you can continuously build and grow throughout your life. We’ll start by helping you understand what it means to have a healthy sense of self. Why so many of us struggle with developing one and how to discover your own? With a healthy sense of self, you’ll be amazed at how all aspects of your life will change for the better.
Healthy Sense Of Self
In terms of learning to live a meaningful and rewarding life, discovering a healthy sense of self is the most important prerequisite for finding true contentment. What does it even mean to have a healthy sense of self? A healthy sense of self means that you have a deeper awareness of who you are, not just the roles that you feel are the accomplishments you may have achieved. Instead, you’re aware of your core values, strengths and weaknesses, key aspects to your personality and how your mind naturally works. Not only do you have a deeper understanding of these things about yourself, but you also have an unconditional acceptance of who you are. It’s not of your behavior, but of you as a person. The more you get to know yourself, the less you end up wishing you were fundamentally different or like someone else. Instead, you learn to appreciate your strengths and talents and also accept your weaknesses.
Database Of Your Mind
True contentment is found by understanding and accepting who you are and then spend time developing your gifts, talents and strengths in order to share them with the world. Unfortunately, in our society, many people struggle with finding a healthy sense of themselves. One of the reasons for this is that many of us have lost sight of who we are and have fallen into the trap of finding ourselves by the database of our mind. In order to understand what I mean by your true self and how it differs from the database of your mind, I need to bring you back to the day you were born. If you think about the day you were born, what was there on that day? There was what we call a unique consciousness or an awareness that came into the world and started checking out these big people in your surroundings. That unique consciousness is the true essence of who you are or the real you.
Unfortunately, this self is an entity that many of us lose touch with over the course of our lives. Ironically, the database of our mind, which was always supposed to be a tool for us to help us manifest our true selves is often responsible for this disconnect. When your unique consciousness enters this world, it arrives with two incredible tools at its disposal, your body and a database of your mind. Our minds are incredible data collecting and problem-solving machines, but we need to remember that their first priority is our safety and survival, not our happiness. Many, if not most people, go through their lives being unconsciously led by their mind thinking that their mind will naturally lead them towards contentment and meaningful life. Sadly, the exact opposite is often true. Our mind would gladly sacrifice our happiness in order to keep us safe and help us survive.
It’s so important to learn how your mind works because many times it’s what is standing in your way or even sabotaging your ability to be fully content in this world and live the life you’re truly meant to live. For those of you not familiar with this show, before I go into some detail about the database and how it ends up leading us astray or trapping us, I like to introduce the metaphor of an acorn which I used to more fully explain the concept of our unique consciousness. An acorn comes into this world with the full potential of an oak tree. To what extent that acorn manifests its full potential depends upon what kind of soil it lands in, how much water and sun has access to and how many other trees are overpowering it.
The same is true for a little baby. The day we enter the world, each of us comes with a unique set of potentials that only we could bring to the world. Contained within our infant bodies are all of our physical, intellectual, athletic, artistic and music potentials just waiting to be nurtured. To what extent we manifest those potentials depends largely upon the environment we grow up in or those we later create for ourselves as adults as well as to the extent to which we get trapped by our minds. It’s also important to note that no matter what, an acorn is never going to grow up to be a maple or pine or any tree other than what it was intended to be, an oak tree.The more you get to know yourself, the less you end up wishing you were fundamentally different or like someone else. Click To Tweet
Similarly, too many of us not only lose sight of what’s in our acorn, but we also go on a wild goose chase trying to live our lives being with other people. An endeavor that is truly as fruitless as a young oak tree spending all its time and energy trying to be a nearby maple or pine. This tendency is one example of the many ways the database of our mind ends up trapping us. Therefore, our next step is to start examining this database a little bit more closely so we can begin to understand the many ways in which it all too often limits us from fully developing and finding contentment in this world. On the day you were born and your unique consciousness entered the world, the database of your mind had relatively little information in it. From the moment of birth, your mind quickly and dramatically started collecting information in order to help you navigate this world.
Two Memory Systems
As Dan Siegel explains, there are two memory systems that our minds use to get information into the database. The first is what most people are referring to when they say they’re remembering something. That memory system is called our explicit memory. Our explicit memories are our conscious memory. Therefore, when we’re remembering something from our explicit memory, we are aware of the fact that we’re remembering it and that there’s a distance between that event and the present moment. In order for us to do that, at some point in time, we had to pay conscious attention to what it was we were remembering. In terms of timing, this memory system doesn’t come fully on board until around age two to four when language comes on board. That is why we don’t have conscious memories from the first year of our life. Our explicit memory is our conscious memory.
The other memory system that we have, which tends to make our lives a lot more interesting, is called our implicit memory. Our implicit memories are unconscious memory. When I say unconscious, don’t think for it to repressed unconscious memories. Instead, think of it as a subconscious memory system. For example, if you drove a car unless you’re a novice driver, you didn’t have to think about every step in driving your car or how to get to a routine location. You can thank your implicit memory for being able to do such things. Our implicit memory is our subconscious memory. There are several other key differences between our explicit and implicit memories that we need to be aware of in order to understand how to operate our mind most effectively. First, while our explicit memory doesn’t come on board around age two to four, our implicit memory is there from the time we’re born and most people sit in the field well before that.
From our earliest moments, our implicit memory is constantly collecting information like a sponge. It’s continuously soaking in everything it can from our environment, what we see, hear, feel and experience internally, etc. Therefore, while we need to pay conscious attention to get information into our explicit memory, our implicit memory collects information without the need for focused attention. Another important difference is that when we’re remembering something from our explicit memory, we’re aware that we’re calling up a memory. However, when an implicit memory is triggered, we’re often not even aware that we’re remembering something. Our unconscious mind is doing that all on its own. This is how our implicit memory ends up influencing our lives all the time without us even realizing it.
Our explicit and implicit memories also differ in several important ways having to do with size, speed, and the way information is organized. Most of us would think that our explicit conscious mind controls the majority of the database. The exact opposite is true. Our conscious explicit memory is a mere 5% to 10% of the database. Implicit memory, which operates largely without us consciously knowing what it’s doing, dominates about 90% of our mind. Why would evolution design it so our conscious mind is so small relative to our unconscious mind?
Our conscious explicit memory is much more rational and logical than our unconscious implicit memory. The tradeoff to being more rational is that our explicit memory is relatively slow and it can only take in a limited amount of information. The reality is that our conscious memory can only perceive a sliver of the actual amount of information in our environment. If our species had to rely solely on our conscious explicit memory, we would not have fared very well, especially in the wilderness. Luckily for us, our implicit memories are incredibly fast efficient data collecting machine with the capacity to collect huge amounts of information. It played a crucial role in our survival as a species.True contentment is found by understanding and accepting who you are. Click To Tweet
However, the major drawback to our implicit memory is that it often falls short with regard to being rational or logical. While our explicit memory tends to think about things logically and organize information based on the linear timeline such as recalling events of our life story, our implicit memory collects and organizes information based on associations, which may or may not be logical. If you’ve taken any psychology class, you might recall Pavlov’s experiments with dogs in which he paired a bell with food. The dogs learn to salivate at the sound of the bell because it had been associated with food that naturally caused salivation. That’s how our implicit mind works. At certain situations, that strategy may work very well.
For example, the sound of a growl may be associated with an angry animal and a need for escape is quite logical. However, consider the example of a certain song or TV show that was playing when something upsetting like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend happened. As far as our implicit mind is concerned, that particular song or TV show has become dangerous because of its associations with the painful emotions of the breakup. Hopefully, you’re beginning to see how our implicit mind could easily send us astray. When thinking about the information our minds database may have collected it throughout our life, it’s important to remember that we’re only consciously aware of 10% of the information, which is in our exquisite memory. As much as 90% of the information, it’s not only collected without our conscious awareness, but it impacts our lives without us even realizing it.
This information has the power to influence us so much because it ends up forming the programming of our mind or the patterns in how we think. From the information it gathers, our mind’s first form mental models then core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. Before talking more about these core beliefs and the role they play in our lives, it’s very important to realize that the data in our database does not reflect absolute truth. Instead, it reflects the relative health or dysfunction of our family, friends, teachers, coaches, society and culture more generally. The TV shows we watch, commercials, magazine covers and the information from the internet. The things that we are exposed to on a daily basis. As the database of our mind collects information through both the explicit and implicit memory systems, it starts to use this data to form mental models and ultimately our core beliefs about ourselves, relationships and the world.
These core beliefs play such a critical role in our lives because they serve as the lenses through which we perceive anything including ourselves. Think about our core beliefs as the initial programming of our mind, which leads to that internal voice in our heads that we hear throughout our daily lives and ends up forming the habits the way we think. Our core beliefs and fundamental topics such as our own self-worth and value as a person, how safe we are in the world and whether relationships or a source of pain or comfort and what emotions are all about. Examples of core beliefs include unlovable or, “I’m only lovable if I behave in a certain way.” People are comforting or people are scary and unpredictable. The world is a generally safe place to live or the world is a place to be wary of. As our ability for language increases and our mind starts forming more and more core beliefs, a fortunate phenomenon often happens. Rather than living life in the perspective of our unique consciousness or acorn and using our mind as a tool for manifesting our true purpose, we instead start getting trapped more and more by our minds database. We lose connection with our acorn and the real essence of who we are. We start letting the words of the database define who we are, whether we are lovable, worthwhile, intelligent and what we’re capable of doing.
Think about how ironic that is. The database, which was not even there or at least had relatively little information in it when our unique consciousness entered the world, has the audacity to think that it knows exactly who you are. It can sum you up using a few words or core beliefs and the sad thing is, we believe it. As soon as we start blindly believing what the database has to say about us and our capabilities in the world around us, we are trapped. The power over deciding how we approach life has shifted almost entirely from our unique consciousness or the acorn to the database of our mind. The database that was always supposed to be a tool for us to help manifest our unique consciousness and our purpose in the world has now become our master.
Database And Verbal Language
It then proceeds to put us on a wild goose chase by defining our worth and value based on each criterion and telling us what we should do in order to be happy in this world. While it’s doing this, we’re getting further and further away from our unique consciousness, which is the only place where true contentment can be found. The reason the database become such a dominant force in our lives is because of the power he gives to verbal language. Instead of seeing our ability to use words to create our thoughts as an incredible tool for us to navigate and construct our lives, we start believing our thoughts blindly. It’s as if there were absolute truth and we let them define who we are. The database ends up becoming dominant over the voice of the unique consciousness. The unique consciousness or the acorn doesn’t speak in words or language per se. Instead, the acorn speaks in energy shifts in the body. Things were just drawn towards versus things we steer away from.Our minds are incredible data-collecting and problem-solving machines, but their first priority is our safety and survival, not our happiness. Click To Tweet
Our gut feelings, our intuition and our deeper emotional reactions to things that resonate with us. It also speaks in images, dreams and visions we have for our future and our natural talents and abilities. Sadly, because we’re so often preoccupied listening to the words and thoughts of the database, we frequently don’t hear the voice of the acorn at all. At other times, we may hear the voice but it gets trumped by whatever the database is saying. Remember the database is full of programming largely acquired from our childhood. It reflects the views, teachings and this function of our parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, friends, society, media and culture. The unique consciousness is organic. No one program the acorn.
Our unique consciousness was determined by whatever energy, force or higher power brought us into this world. Take a moment to think about what we give up when we choose to let the voice of the database dominate our life. Not only do we lose touch with who you are and our true purpose in this world, but life from within the database looks and feels entirely different from the life where we’re grounded in our unique consciousness. One of the greatest differences involves our self-worth and how we define ourselves. The question of, “Who am I?” The subsequent question, “Do I have self-worth?” They are two of the most fundamental questions need to resolve to be truly content in this world. These are all important questions are resolved very differently or trapped by the programming of our minds database versus when we are grounded in our unique consciousness or acorn.
According to the database, who you are in your self-worth are conditional or dependent upon either something external to yourself or how you compare to others. The database can choose almost anything external to you to base your self-worth on such as intelligence, academic or athletic performance, music or artistic talent, income level, status, popularity, attractiveness or your jean size. The other favorite choice for the database in terms of deciding who you are and your self-worth is how you compare to others. Therefore, your sense of self depends upon whether or not you feel you are smarter, more attractive, more successful or more talented than those people around you. There are obvious major drawbacks to accepting the databases conditional definition of who we are and our self-worth. It breeds almost perpetual anxiety and insecurity.
Think about the database as a sense of who you are like a house of cards. Everything may be fine for the moment if every card stands exactly in place, but heaven forbid one of the cards falls, then it feels like the whole thing could come tumbling down. That’s the sense of fragility that we feel if you are firmly trapped in your database. The database put you on a wild goose chase of finding the “magic key” to eventually being good enough. Even if you achieve one of the criteria that database sets out, for example, you reach a certain income level, you get a certain GPA, you finally fit into certain jeans or get invited to a popular party. You cannot rest too long because the database works on the, “What have you done for me lately,” mentality.
To understand how the database works, imagine you have a big old wooden barrel and you get a huge influx of water. Maybe you get a promotion, make your numbers for the quarter or buy a bigger home. You may feel “filled” or good enough for the moment, but then the reality hits that there are little holes in the bottom of this barrel and the water level starts dissipating relatively quickly. You find you need another hit such as more money or a vacation home in order to maintain your level of self-worth. Unfortunately, you fall into a pattern similar to any addiction needing more and more to achieve a hit of self-esteem, but never being truly satisfied. It’s never enough. You never reached this good enough status that the database is trying to tell. You may have more momentary glimpses of it, but these moments never last too long. As far as the database is concerned, you’re never good enough for very long.
The unique consciousness answers the question of who you are and whether you have worth very differently than a database does. The unique consciousness knows that your self-worth is unconditional and inherent in the fact that you are a unique human being. There are billions of people in this world, but there is no other you anywhere. You have common to this world with a unique set of potentials that only you can bring. You have a unique purpose that only you can fulfill. Once you fully comprehend these points, you realize that you do not have to be threatened by anyone else in the world. Who out there could be a better you than you? You’ve got dibs on the job. You’ve got the monopoly on being you. The first part of the equation is realizing, “I don’t have to worry about anyone else being a better me than me.”There are billions of people in this world, but there is no other you anywhere. Click To Tweet
Once you understand this concept, how much time would you recommend that I spend trying to be a better you than you or better anyone else for that matter? Sadly, this is exactly what people trapped in the database do all the time. They spend their lives trying to be someone else thinking that’s going to increase their self-worth. It is like the little oak seedlings spending all its time and energy trying to be the nearby maple and pines. That would be foolish, yet that’s exactly what the database encourages. Unlike the database, the unique consciousness answers the question of who you are, not based on what it thinks you should be, but on what’s in your acorn. The unique set of potentials with what you entered the world. From the place of the unique consciousness, you realize that even though you are here on earth, you came from and are able to maintain a connection with a larger energy force. Be it God, a Higher Power or Universal Energy. This energy is driving you to develop your potential and fulfill your part or purpose in this world. It’s what gives human beings our inclination to grow and develop our talents and abilities.
From the perspective of the unique consciousness, it’s not only our unique talents and abilities but also those things that resonate most deeply with us. Our core values, passions, dreams and ideas we’re capable of creating or conceiving that help us understand who we are and what we’re meant to do. The key is to learn how to both discover and then develop what’s at our core. We need to learn to listen to the voice of our acorn and then find the soil we need. The education, training, mentors, and opportunities to grow and develop all our talents and strengths so that we can then share them with the world. That is ultimately the path through contentment and the life you were meant to live.
That brings us to the end of this episode. I’d like now to take a moment to just review the main points we’ve covered in this episode. A healthy sense of self is achieved with a deeper understanding and unconditional acceptance of our true self. The real you is the unique consciousness or acorn you enter the world with on the day you were born. The database of your mind was supposed to be a tool to help you manifest your real self. We have two memory systems, our unconscious implicit memory and our conscious explicit memory that puts information into our database. The data we collect forms our core beliefs and habits in the way we think.
We often end up getting trapped by the database and losing sight of our unique consciousness. The unique consciousness doesn’t speak in words but nonverbal signals such as our gut feelings. The database claims that your self-worth is conditional upon something external to yourself or how you compare to others. The unique consciousness knows that your self-worth is unconditional and inherent in the fact that you are a unique human being with a purpose in this world that only you can fulfill. That brings us to the end of this episode. Please remember to visit www.TheCoachingConnector.com for more articles on Guiding You Through the Maze to your best personal and professional life. Please remember to subscribe to Guiding You Through the Maze and share our link with anyone you think would benefit from the information we’re sharing. We’re so glad to be part of your journey. I’m wishing you much success.
Lentino, L.M. (2014). Constructive thinking how to grow beyond your mind. Sudbury, MA: Grow Beyond Your Mind.