It seems to me that a change in self often tends to create a fear. A new “self” creates a number of conditions that cause this:
- A sense of a new reality.
- A new sense of oneself and who one is.
- A new sense of ones self in the world.
- A new awareness.
- A new world perception.
- In a way, a whole new ‘world’ can be felt, like a rebirth in extreme cases. It can, at times, literally shake our whole world like an earthquake.
- It can be painful as we must ‘shed off’ our old self. This can be like cutting off ones hand.
- It also can create a sense of ‘loss’. With a change in self we can often feel that our old self is gone. We generally become accustomed to the ways of our self. We know its ways and manners and become used to it. When it changes we lose that sense. In some respects, it can create an “old self nostalgia”.
- The new self can create a sense of disorientation and confusion. Since its ‘new’ we don’t know what to expect of it.
- The new self may bring up and reveal qualities that we don’t want to admit to ourselves and may try to deny.
All these can cause great fear, or at least an apprehension, in a person.
A CHANGE IN SELF
Generally, a new self comes in two ways:
- A natural change. That is, it just happens without our effort.
- A voluntary change. This is a result of something we do.
There are times when these work together as well, both working together to create a change. In many ways, overall growth is nothing but that, the working of these two processes throughout ones life.
And that brings up a key word here: growth. In general, a change in self creates a growth of a person. This change in self shows that ‘we’ change, that we have become different from what we were. But this change in self may not always reflect a form of growth. It can actually go in three directions:
- A change in self can be a change that makes one more healthy and live in-the-world better . . . growth.
- A change in self may affect little effect on a person or how they are in the world.
- A change in self may become unhealthy and adversely affect a person, even making them go into a madness.
I, of course, speak of change of self in the context of growth, of a healthy change that makes one be in-the-world. The other two forms show that a change in self is not always for the better. There are times when it may:
- . . . reflect a problem.
- . . . not come under the correct conditions, creating a ‘distorted’ change in self.
This shows that a change in self is a very critical thing, often reflecting ones mental state and position in the world. Because it is a “change”, in which the old self becomes irretrievable, it requires conditions that allow for the best change possible. There are times, though, when a change in self is more critical than other times and in which the conditions of change are very critical. Much like an embryo in the womb, an alteration in conditions at critical times can create a ‘deformation’ of sorts. Many of us, in my opinion, suffer from various ‘deformations’ of some sort. Many, also, will overcome them in later growth as well. Many of these ‘deformations’ help to create the myriad and versatile versions of the human character. In some people, it may cause mental problems, in others its only a nuisance, in others it’s hardly noticeable, and in others it may lead to a great strength. Even the effect of a ‘deformation’ has a range from good to bad!
But since a change in self is a form of growth it often creates a fear in growth. As a result, there is a tendency for many of us to prevent our growth. We become, in a way, ‘stunted’. In other words, the growth is there, we just deny it. This shows that an aspect of growth is our ability to accept and embrace it. Not all growth just ‘happens’. Some growth must be accepted to happen.
This fear can create a condition where we are reluctant to change ourselves, preferring to remain in our already existing ‘comfortable’ condition. Personally, I think that, for many of us, this is very much a reality. I know I’ve done it. It shows that we make a choice, often, when accepting a new self or growth. These choices are:
- Grow with new self.
- Remain with old self.
It’s not always good to automatically change to a new self, I’ve found. There are times when we just aren’t prepared for a new self. This shows that a new self isn’t always reflective of the whole person. Many times, we refuse a new self for good reasons, out of intuition of our whole self and what we need. Sometimes, then, refusing a new self is the best path to growth overall! It also shows that just because a new self appears it doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. As a result, the appearance of a new self is not necessarily a sign of growth. This fact shows that its formation is caused by other causes.
CHOOSING GROWTH: THE US-AS-A-PERSON
A change in self seems to show a growth of us-in-the-world. This is not the same as us-as-a-person. The us-in-the-world is that part of us that associates with the world or interfaces with the world. As a result, it is ‘worldly’, so to speak. This makes it somewhat removed from our ‘inner world’ of who we are, the us-as-a-person.
In our early years it seems that the us-in-the-world is very closely associated with the us-as-a-person. Because of this, when we’re young the change in the us-in-the-world was associated with us-as-a-person. As we grow older, though, the us-in-the-world grows apart from the us-as-a-person. We develop, in a way, an ‘interior life’ (the us-as-a-person) and a self that associates with the world (the us-in-the-world). Because of this, when we get older a change in the us-in-the-world is not necessarily associated with the us-as-a-person. They diverge away from each other. By the time this happens a ‘growth’ is usually something that happens in the us-as-a-person. As a result, a change in the us-in-the-world doesn’t necessarily reflect a growth. This fact is what makes it so that we can choose a self (the us-in-the-world) so that it will make the best growth for the us-in-the-world.
THE “COMFORTABLE SELF”
This ‘choosing’ shows a definite need to know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and our standing in the world. It also requires a ‘skill’ to do it. Many people end up not ‘choosing’, often due to lack of ‘skill’, lack of awareness that they can ‘choose’, and lack of knowledge of themselves. As a result, people develop a “comfortable self” and remain with it, unwilling to change. This “comfortable self” is usually pretty much established by about age 40 or thereabouts (of course, it varies with each person).
I’ve often thought that the maintaining of the “comfortable self” actually, ironically enough, ages a person. They seem to get older than they are and very set in their ways. They also begin to have this incredibly strong sense of self. They also develop an inability to change. Though this is an easy thing to do , I think it is generally an unhealthy thing to do.
As a result, I tend to think that it is wise to always look beyond ones self and try to keep changing ones self . . . as well as be open to change. In effect, a person should try to seek ‘evolving’, so to speak. This means, also, a continual combat with the fear associated with a change of self. We must keep in mind that we never overcome the fear associated with the change in self. This is because each change in self is different, causing different forms or grades of fear. As a result, they are always different, often catching us off guard.