As a kid, when I was asked who I went out to play with, I would reply, "Me, Myself, and I." I thought it was a cute answer. Little did I realize then how profoundly true my statement was. You see, we are not one person, but three people.
The first is the person we were born as. That is, the person we were before our caregivers and others made us doubt our own power and worth. This person is our True Self, and you can see it in any infant. They, as you were, are filled with courage, trust and an adventurous spirit. This person represents your unlimited potential and is the kernel of the person you were meant to be.
When Johnny is told he is a "bad boy," he has no idea that this statement is merely a tool to provide temporary relief to his young, inexperienced, impatient, and exasperated mother. Lacking the capacity for rational thought, young children, such as Johnny, simply accept what they are told as true. After several years of programming, Johnny comes to BELIEVE that he is bad, stupid, clumsy, worthless, and whatever other criticisms are hurled his way.
So, Johnny's True Self is now covered by another layer. This layer is his False Self. It is the incapable person he believes himself to be. The False Self is the second person we are. It is the image we hold of ourselves in our subconscious. We can also call it our Limited Self or our Wounded Self. Having a poor self-image is equated to having low self-esteem.
Now, here's an important point. You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. That is, you are not the weak person you think you are, for your True Self is powerful and has unlimited potential. Yet, because you BELIEVE you are weak, you are incapable of acting any other way. Incapable, that is, until you change your self-image. As you change your self-image for the better, you begin to strip away the layer of your False Self, allowing your True Self to emerge in all its splendor.
What is the third person we are? It is our Fake Self. It is the third layer of our personality. It is the mask we wear, the person we pretend to be. You see, the shame and guilt we feel for being the person we think we are (False Self), causes us to wear a mask to hide from the world the inadequacies that we believe we possess. So, for example, timid Johnny wears a mask pretending to be courageous. How ironic that Johnny has to pretend to be what he really is, but doesn't realize!
Not only is our potential limited by our False Self, but it is further limited by our Fake Self. This is because when we pretend to be what we think we are not, we are afraid of being discovered. We are afraid people will realize that we are weaklings after all. The shame and guilt we feel, as well as the fear of detection significantly depletes our energy, making us unable to reach our potential.
Well, then, how do we awaken to our True Self? It is by changing our self-image. For once we believe in ourselves, in our capacity to change and reach our goals, we no longer need to wear a mask. And as our False and Fake Selves fall aside, all that remains is our True Self.
But how do we change our self-image? All we have to do is do the things the person we want to become would do, and we then become that person. This is because we become what we do. If I kill people, I become a murderer; if I workout, I become strong; if I treat others with kindness, I become kind. Simple, isn't it?
Wait a minute! If I do what the person I want to become would do, isn't that just pretending? Isn't that the same as wearing a mask? No, it's not, for two reasons. First, our mask is created subconsciously, but doing what the person we want to become would do needs CONSCIOUS and deliberate effort. Second, the mask is based on a lie. It is created to hide the inadequacies we think we have. But acting like the person we want to become is the opposite. It is based on the truth. It is done to reveal, uncover, and expose our True Self, our powerful self. In other words, we deliberately create our actions and then our actions create us.
Let's look at an example. Leo is timid and wishes to restore the courage of his True Self. He decides to take a small step. He is unhappy with a recent purchase and decides to return to the retailer and ask for a refund. Despite his timidity, he acts confidently. He does what the person he wants to become would do. That is, he gently, yet firmly asks for a refund, fully expecting to get it.
And guess what? Leo gets his refund! As soon as he does, he can hardly contain himself with excitement, for he has made several startling discoveries. First, he learned he could obtain the same results a confident person would receive, merely by acting confident! Second, he learned that he can change his behavior and, therefore, change his life. Third, he felt great. He experienced a victory. Fourth, he experienced positive thoughts. These positive thoughts were not scripted affirmations, but genuine thoughts that burst into his consciousness. Thoughts such as, "Wow, I didn't know I could do it! This is great! I feel good!"
Leo took more small steps and continued to experience success. The thoughts, feelings, and positive results he experienced began to change his belief system. He no longer believed he was powerless. Before long he came to believe he was powerful. He became the person he wanted to be. Actually, he became the person he was meant to be.
When you understand that your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, and positive results shape your self-image, you will have at your disposal the power to transform yourself. But before you can wake up and find yourself successful, you have to wake up and discover your True Self. Become aware of your three selves and take some corrective action every day, no matter how small. Doing so will bring you, bit by bit, closer to achieving your goals. And as you start to make progress, your rate of growth will speed up. Finally, I would like to share this Mexican proverb, "As you see yourself, I once saw myself; as you see me now, you will be seen."
As a postscript, for those who wish to delve more deeply into the power of thought, I recommend studying the 1912 classic, "The Master Key System" by Charles F. Haanel. You can study it online or download it for free at PsiTek. But a word of caution: do not rush through the book. You should spend a week on each of the 24 lessons so you have time to assimilate the material and make it a part of your life.