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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 20-Feb-06

 


Monday 20-Feb-06

Who am I?

I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that person is who is staring back at me. It's almost as if there is another person in there. And the harder I look, the stranger it gets.

Knowing yourself is a fundamental of changing minds. When you interact with someone else, they are seeing that person in the mirror, and if they see more clearly than you, then they have a distinct advantage.

Self-knowledge is a lifetime's work which starts with a mirror. Psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan described the 'mirror stage', where a baby sees its own image and, for the first time, recognizes itself. In doing so it also makes the fundamental error of thinking that the image is somehow superior and desires to be that ideal person. And so a lifetime of striving is born in our first identity conflict.

Beyond that early trauma, there are many identity-forming (and deforming) events in our lives. Sometimes I close my eyes and go back to visit them, reviewing with adult eyes the misunderstandings of childhood. Early misunderstanding can lead to misplaced guilt and self-loathing, and so I might talk with that child, forgiving and soothing the confusions of youth.

Trips into the past can be mysterious, fascinating, illuminating and scary. They can help you see who you were and hence who you are. And when you change who you were, you change who you are.

And if the journey is too dark, too difficult or too scary then, like many others, you can enlist the help of others. Psychoanalysts and therapists are professional guides who will accompany you on your journey to a new you.


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