The Bigger Self

Posted under: Mind, Spirit, Relationships, Community


The Bigger Self

Admit it, we’ve all had our narcissistic moments. While such self-absorption is generally given a negative rap, a little self-love is a good thing.

 

Unfortunately, our positive self-talk can turn into, well, self-centeredness.  To see just how far we've moved down the it's-about-me highway, try to listen in on your conversations to see how quickly you move toward talking about your issues or your activities or your accomplishments. 

 

We all want to experience a full and satisfying life, but we can’t accomplish this only through the pursuit of our own self-interests.  Albert Einstein once said, “A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”

There is something inside us that compels us to work out a broader existence, to be involved in something larger and more magnificent than ourselves.  Psychologist Erik Erikson, when referring to Middle Adulthood in his 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development, stated that, “A person does best at this time [of life] to put aside thoughts of death and balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase by whatever is yours to give, the good will and higher order in your sector of the world.”  Translation: having faced our mortality, we do best to move on to making a lasting difference in our sphere of influence.

 

Deep down, most of us know this to be true, but how do we bridge the gap between knowing and doing?  Here's some food for thought:

  1. Yield Yourself to Action: Knowing is only half the battle. Surrender yourself to act on that knowledge. When we surrender to our highest potential self, to something larger than our desires and self-centered ways, we begin to awaken a new life within us. What good is a belief that something is true without living a life according to that belief?
  2. Uncover Obstacles: While one side of us seeks to live a more enlightened, other-focused existence, our tendency to become self-absorbed is constantly poised to interfere. Excuses are easy to find. Resolve now to push through these and just do it.
  3. Gain Experience: The bigger-self requires experiential learning to grow. It is the difference between watching a video about someone feeding hungry children in Africa, or being in Africa handing the food to a living, breathing child. These experiences go beyond the five senses and into the realm of emotion and spirit. It is thist intrinsic reward that brings the feeling of fullness in our lives. Submission to the rule to act and resolve to persist will bridge the gap, but experience will keep you coming back for more.

It is the bigger self that drives us to give blankets to the homeless for Christmas, to help a stranger change a tire on the side of a busy highway, genuinely listen to a colleague vent, or visit a friend in the hospital, even when we have a dozen other things we could be doing. Part of making a lasting impact is to take our experiences and all that we have been given and make something out of them that can be passed along to the next generation. Imagine what our communities would be like if we all sought to fulfill this greater calling to live outside ourselves.


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