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The Myth of “Finding Yourself”

Searching For What Was Never Lost

Solitude by Mario Enrique

We are living in a world of infinite distractions offering us the illusion that we can “lose” ourselves. What actually happens is that, rather than losing Self, we use outside noise to distract us from what we do not want to confront in our lives. We then incorrectly conclude that we can “step out” of our existence to eventually, or perhaps too late, realize that we have only neglected rather than taken a sabbatical from Self. These false beliefs are platitudes promoted by pop psychology and pseudo science that recklessly invite us to look for what we cannot lose, as much as we may try. This notion of losing Self leads to problems with relationships by attributing our wows to not having time to find Self. When anyone tells you, “I need space to find myself,” what they are really saying, although not totally aware, is that they need a distraction to avoid facing a significant challenge. In most cases, these are challenges that need to be solved in partnership rather than alone in a cave of dysfunctional distractions.

But don’t conclude that the Internet with its digital world is the culprit. Distractions have always been around to seduce us with the false belief that we can run away from Self: Gambling, pornography, affairs, drugs, over-working, care-taking, and misplaced priorities, continue to be the usual suspects.

Thus, instead of stepping out, we neglect self until it appears unrecognizable. Not because we left, but because we ignored who we are. Then when the passion of love and other genuine gifts of life come our way, we initially enter them with enthusiasm and with the passion that truly defines who we are, until the world of fear-based avoidance we created pulls us back to our false safety and profound isolation. But paradoxically, loving with abandonment is an existential choice to give up our dysfunctional distractions rather than to abandon Self. In other words, love brings us to our existential essence, and to the passion we can share with our coauthors of joy: A powerful alternative to looking for Self in conveniently orchestrated noise.

Ask yourself what you may be neglecting when you enter the illusion of finding Self? You may discover that, rather than running from Self, what you need is to burn the ships of fear that stop you from loving with abandonment.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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