Many philosophers and average people agree that we each have a self. There has been rich and raucous debate about what that is, across centuries and cultures. For our purposes, I and other thoughtful researchers propose there are conceptually two or three types of human self which regulate our perceptions, personality, and behaviors every moment:
- our “self” (lower-case “s”) – our body + mind + soul or spirit;
- our Self (capital :S”) – the executive leader of our personality subselves; and…;
- our “Higher Self – a wise entity that transcends our mind and body.
If our early-nurturance needs are filled well enough, we seem to automatically develop a part of our personality which acts like a talented orchestra conductor, athletic coach, or chairperson ourtrue Self (capital “S”). This subself has clear, realistic, wide-angle, long-range vision. S/He consistently makes effective (healthy, balanced) minor and major decisions based on history and the dynamic input of our five or six senses and other subselves.
Ideally, our subselves (brain regions) are steadily directed and coordinated by this naturally-skilled leader. When that happens, kids and adults commonly report feeling some mix of calm orserene, centered, grounded, light, “up,” clear, firm, alive, alert, aware, compassionate, strong, resilient, focused, open, sure, confident, decisive, positive, and purposeful – even in a crisis
If young kids aren’t nurtured well enough, their brains and personalities seem to automatically develop a different kind of self (small “s”). Their true Self seems overwhelmed or blocked from growing able to direct their actions by a group of well-meaning but limited, impulsive subselves who want to control the person – i.e. to survive.
This is like a violinist, tuba player, and lead tenor pushing their conductor off the podium and fighting over who will lead the orchestra. If not nurtured well enough, our personality evolves withdifferent parts of it in competition, rather than in consistent harmony. When did you last experience “confusion,” “seeing both sides,” “changing your mind,” and/or an internal argument.