Books and movies tend to portray “the Self” as something you find after a life struggle or going on a trip to a foreign country. In our everyday life, however, the more we look for ourselves, it seems the more we lose it. When we try to address and find this thing that seems to have consciousness, we miss it. The self is dynamic and we can find ourselves cut up into so many parts, it’s hard to see the overall vision. Are you the person who wakes up late? Are you the person that takes short showers? Are you fashionable? Kind? All the little details of who you are changing all the time, and so who is the person underneath it all? Are you the voice reflecting on yourself? If so, who is the self you are looking at?
Philosophers, neuroscientists, biologists, poets with large egos, plenty of people have tried to tackle the question of consciousness. It is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries in the universe, and we can only consider its mysteriousness because of it Itself. Where we are right now, we don’t understand what it is exactly or how it works. While it would be comforting to know, we don’t have to understand it to live our lives. If it is something that captures you, heart and soul, you can research into it, try and understand it. We probably won’t find a perfect model of it.
I realize that’s not a satisfactory answer because it’s not a hard and fast explanation or even a definition. However, it’s not stopped you from reading this, understanding this, and impacting your life. You are conscious, whether or not you understand it. Consciousness may be a process, and we can’t see that process clearly because we are it. In a similar way, we may be incapable of seeing and understanding ourselves. When we introspect, we are automatically splitting ourselves off to look at it, and that splitting off is necessarily limiting what we are looking at.
As to say, the “Self” that people often look for isn’t some distinct character who likes A, does B, and has traits C, D, and E. We know we are splitting ourselves up with possible actions we could be taking, and that partitioning is driving us to doubt who we are. However, we will always be our Self. Your Self is you, you’ve never lost it in the first place. If we take one path or another, those two eventual Selves would likely be different. But who are we to know that? We can’t see the bird’s eye view of our life. We’re on the ground, subjective and ignorant of so many things– it is who we are, and those limitations make us who we are.
More often than not, what we are looking for is confidence. We never make the “right” decisions, we can only make the decision we think is best. Even when we feel like we are being pulled by so many options, we have faced every single choice before and gone with it. Choices are inevitable, and if we mess up, we can choose to try and fix it. Maybe your Self yesterday loved coffee, and today your Self loves tea, but you were yourself yesterday and you are yourself today.