Self-Reflection References Your Conditioned Self, Not Your True Self
Self-Reflection uses thought to explore the conditioned self and makes conclusions based on who you have learned to be, not who you truly are
Your self-identity isn’t “you.” It is a fluid experience of familiar emotions, feelings and thoughts that shift based on the inner and outer stimuli of the moment. It arises from who you have been conditioned to be and how you have been conditioned to think and feel.
When you reflect on this “self” you use thought to explore this familiar matrix, investigating various aspects of who you have learned to be, and come to a conclusion based on the available evidence.
The problem is that the “evidence” you reflect on to come to a conclusion is based on your mood, triggered feelings and emotions, your level of fear or powerlessness, or courage or powerfulness in a situation.
As you make a personal transformation or change a belief system, the experience of you can change, making self-identity a moving target and self-reflection an exercise in frustration—because the self you identify changes all the time.
Frustrating, but a familiar fodder for thought, so we keep doing it.
The “you” beneath the experience, the one who is witnessing the experience, remains, stable, unknown, and in many ways unknowable.
This deeper you can be experienced in the present moment space between thoughts, in the unfocused spaciousness before sleep, in the awe-inspired inner silence that can come when in nature or with a puppy or a newborn baby.
But it can’t be known in reflection or through thought. It can’t be identified or known by the mind at all in any reflective way.
For the self-reflective mind, this is absolute frustration, because it wants conclusions, definitions, something to point to and say, “this is that.”
So, you are left with the frustration of the moving target of self-identity and the insatiable self-reflection that tries to define “you” if just for that moment. Or with the mental and emotional frustration of trying to discover the deeper, unknowable you by catching a moment of spaciousness and examining it through self-reflective thought.
Notice how both use the habit of self-reflective thought
Thought doesn’t really care what it thinks about, as long as it is in charge, just like a kitten doesn’t really mind if it plays with a yellow ball or a green ball as long as it gets to play with something.
The real adventure, and the real you, comes with letting go of the habits of reflecting on the self and the stories it likes to tell, the games it likes to play with ideas an emotions, and rest in the deep quiet of your eternal being.
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