Capacities of the True Self
We all have a greater capability for wholesome living than we have lived. The following list may give you some ideas for personal growth. If you already have all of these areas in relatively good shape, you are an unusual person!
1. To experience a wide range of feelings deeply
Accepting a wide range of feelings in proportion to the situation, not fearing the expression of feelings. (However, not letting guilt and disappointment run wild.) Not blocking expression and erecting barriers to feelings.
2. To expect appropriate entitlements
Expecting that life can be mastered and that good things can be achieved. Discovering the environmental factors that contribute to pleasurable living and acting accordingly.
3. To be assertive and to “self activate”
Identifying the things that comprise your individuality. Asserting them autonomously through wishes, dreams, and goals. Taking the steps necessary to protect and promote them.
4. To acknowledge self esteem.
Knowing when a problem or crisis has been resolved and recognize self reliance. Keeping a sense of worth “out front.” Asserting it when it is necessary to renew your belief that you can set and reach reasonable goals.
5. To soothe painful feelings
Not wallowing in misery but finding means to experience comfort and hope. Confronting distortions in thinking that lead to extreme feelings. Knowing that pain is not necessarily deserved, but simply is at times and can lead you somewhere you would not have gone otherwise.
6. To make and stick to commitments
Making personal commitments to relationships and career goals. Persisting in the face of obstacles, utilizing the support of others to assist you when needed.
7. To express creativity
Developing the ability to replace old, familiar patterns of living and problem solving with new and more successful ones. Devising ways to cope with loss or misfortune and improvise ways to achieve financial security. Expressing your passions and interests.
8. To experience intimacy
Expressing the real self fully in a close relationship. Not allowing fear of abandonment to prevent intimacy to emerge at the beginning of a new relationship. Sustaining intimacy through difficult times or when other goals must be pursued. Keeping healthy boundaries in relationships.
9. To accommodate and enjoy being alone
Being alone without feeling abandoned. The ability to find meaning in life comes from within, even if it ultimately involves others. When alone enjoying and being preoccupied with worthwhile pursuits. Not confusing feeling alone with the loneliness and despair that leads to depression. When feeling despair, confronting it rather than filling time with meaningless activity or dead ends.
10. To find the unified “self” that is you in the midst of all of your conflicting parts
Recognizing and sustaining an awareness of the inner core of feelings, perceptions, values and beliefs which persists and is the same as a person grows and develops, in good times and in bad times.
Adapted from: James F. Masterson, M. D. The Search for the Real Self, pp., 38 – 47.