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In Search of the Authentic Self

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OPRAH

What does it mean to be your authentic self?
During their much-touted interview on Monday night, Oprah told Piers Morgan that being her authentic self was and is key to her success. But what does it mean to be your authentic self?

Dr. Phil defines authentic self as, "the you that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you that is not defined by your job, your function or role."

Human beings speak in metaphors, and while I understand that having a "core" is a metaphor and/or a mythical place that we imagine lives within, I still would be grateful if Dr. Phil, Oprah and/or any one of the "healers" true and/or self-proclaimed (authentic or fictional), can tell me where my authentic self and its absolute core live.

If it is at the heart of what matters, then does it lie within my heart? Does it beat? Pulsate? Have a life of its own? Is my core behind my liver or perhaps under my pancreas? If someone is rotten to the core, can they request a core transplant?

And if you are at times not your true self; not your authentic self, then who are you?

Dr. Phil makes the distinction between "authentic" and "fictional" selves. He describes the fictional self... "When you're not living faithfully to your authentic self, you find yourself feeling incomplete, as if there is a hole in your soul."

Another set of questions come hurling forward from what I suspect is my authentic self, although I can't be sure.

The questions: Where is my soul? How do I repair its hole? And... Does your authentic self call upon your fictional self, at times, to surface? You know, maybe your fictional self is needed at a meeting; maybe your fictional self is a better negotiator than your authentic self. Therefore, your fictional self is at times your authentic self and visa-versa.

You see, it's rather tricky, isn't it? Even when you are striving to be something that you are not, how do you know that you are not that -- and perhaps you need to stretch yourself to become that?

What about multiple selves? Each of us has the capacity to be generous and selfish, loving and hateful, inclusive and magnanimous as well as petty and small. Which part of ourselves live at our core?

Is this where free will comes into play? Do we each have the ability to choose what aspects of our character we'd like to develop?

From the psychoanalytic perspective there are differing opinions. Some theoreticians concur with Dr. Phil. They believe there is a core, authentic self. Other analysts believe that we are composed of a multiplicity of self that emerge in different situations.

Despite the different perspectives, aren't we all seeking peace, harmony, love and satisfaction in whatever way we arrive at it?

Perhaps, dear reader, you can journey inward and see what answer resonates for you.

Janice Taylor
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