The Divided Self

““All of us have two minds, a private one, which is usually strange, I guess, and symbolic, and a public one, a social one. Most of us stream back and forth between those two minds, drifting around in our private self and then coming forward into the public self whenever we need to. “ ― Scott Spencer

Continuing the theme I started recently, I’ve come to realise that we all seem to create divisions in our lives. Divides between work and home. Divides between family and friends. Divides even in the personal and close relationships that we have.

These divides are not physical entities that exist. Rather they are our own personal mental approaches to life; the work that we do and the way in which we interact with the people around us. Often, these divides feel hard. Rigid and fixed. Sometimes they are created, naturally, but often, they are “artificially” constructed in a way to help you individually, deal with a particular situation. However, the artificial often gets noticed.

You know that feeling. You meet someone for the first time and you walk away from the encounter, thinking “Is that the real person?” or as Alan Watts says, “…perhaps they are a genuine fake!”.

The difficulty we all face is that it is hard to maintain these divides. The effort can sap your own strength and ultimately, people, even subconsciously, notice that you are putting on a “false persona”.

Why do we create these divides?

The prime reason that I see is to protect ourselves from being hurt. We feel that if we can compartmentalise our thoughts; feelings; approach to people; based on a set of self-defined rules, that this will protect us and guide us through the day-to-day interactions we have.

Let me tell you, it does not.

Trying to lead a divided life, is like trying to walk with just your left foot. You might be able to take one step, but then you will fall over. The only way to lead your life is to be Genuine. Whole. Complete. You have to be true to yourself. The true, inner self that is you.

How do you do it?

There are many different paths you can travel. You can try counselling. Self-help books. Group therapy. Prescription drugs. You can even come to realise it naturally through life’s changes that come upon you. My path was via Mindfulness practice. What ever path you take, you have to be brave and true to yourself. Once you realise that and start living your life in this way you will notice a huge change and a weight will lift from you.

You will be more natural in your dealings with people. More genuine. Yes, there is a risk. After all living a life has risks. You will get hurt. People will take advantage of you. But in the end, you have to live your life to the full undivided self.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”  Dalai Lama XIV

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