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February 11, 2020 / Congau

Deceptive Selves

Out of your many selves, which one is yours? No one is always the same person. One when with a friend, another with a lover. One when working, another when relaxing. One when talking, another when quiet.

Most people say they are not quite themselves when out in the busy world talking to strangers. Everyone recognizes the fatigue that comes from having to pretend and keeping the façade when conversing with casual acquaintances and even the most social human animals would occasionally long for solitude and a chance to be themselves, as they might put it.

But granted that we are not ourselves when we are outright acting, we have a repertoire of selves that we can activate in different situations. Each self expresses different sides of us and utilizes different abilities, and it’s not necessarily the case that one is more genuine than another. When alone, we are naturally excluded from some of our selves (the capacity for compassion for example) and certain strains of thought, which are all natural to us, are more likely to appear in certain circumstances. If you are prone to gloomy thoughts when alone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your true self is depressive.

The search for oneself is therefore very difficult, even more difficult than interpreting other diverse phenomena in nature. We are closer to ourselves than anything else, at least that’s what we think, so we might expect a simple task, but in fact, it’s exactly because of this closeness that there’s such a risk of deception. Some of our personal appearances are really ourselves and some are not. It is not just one of them and also not all of them and we can’t just pick our favorite ones or the ones that feel more comfortable.

Just being aware of the complexity is a start. Whoever you are, you are not entirely who you think.

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