We are spirits having a human experience, almost as if ‘I’ is two different people. The human part of ‘I’ is living a Story. You can also think of this as playing a role, as an actor in a play. It’s synonymous with the concept of the ego.
Conversely, the spirit part of ‘I’ is who you actually are. This is the Self and is where such concepts as Truth, Authenticity and Integrity live.
When we’re in a good headspace, it can be easier to connect with Self, with our Truth, authenticity and to live in integrity. When hurting or experiencing other discomforts, we have a natural tendency to sink into our human Story, losing connection with our Self. Story is also the level where our trauma wounds reside. When triggered, we are pulled out of Self and into Story.
Let me be clear that our Story is valid. Our Story is our life! It is not who we are but it is the life we are living. Our Story can kick up some big emotions that can be sometimes beautiful and amazing and sometimes crippling and devastating.
When we are in our Story, we can have a tendency to over identify, thinking that the Story is who we are and that it is all out of our control. I’m sure we’ve all experienced times when it felt like life was something being done to us. That’s the Story.
There is another way.
Self is a concept that is as old as humanity and has gone by many names. Some refer to it as higher self or even God/Universe/Creator, whatever language fits your framework. It is a concept that fits into both spiritual and secular frameworks. Self with a capital ‘S’ was identified by Richard Schwartz in his Internal Family Systems model.
Self is energy.
If you can remember back to elementary school science class, you learned that everything is energy. Even seemingly hard surfaces (all of the physical world) is more empty space than tangible.
Fun Fact: The entirety of the known universe comprises less than 4% normal matter, with the remaining being dark matter and dark energy, a.k.a. seemingly empty space.
The truth of who you are exists at that non-physical level.
Energy has particular behavior patterns, sometimes behaving as waves and sometimes behaving as particles. Self-energy is no different.
Self Energy as Wave
Imagine for a moment that a butterfly flaps it’s wings, which moves the air, creating wind. With no physical structure to impede it, the wind gathers speed as it travels unencumbered. Blowing over the vast ocean, the force of this now mighty wind is kicking up bigger and bigger waves on the ocean surface until at last, a tidal wave strikes the other side of the globe from our oblivious butterfly.
While this is thankfully an exaggeration, you get the concept. This is known as the Butterfly Effect.
Just like the air the butterfly’s wings move, energy is a formless substance that ripples out in waves. What are the implications of this, though?
You’re likely familiar with the concept of an aura – the space around your physical body that your spiritual body encompasses. In the modern western world with our Cartesian and Newtonian perspectives, we tend to think of our physical body as housing our spirit. The opposite is actually true as our spirit is far larger than our physical body. Not only that, but our spiritual body can expand, contract and even travel, as in astral travel, separate from our physical body.
Going back to our concept of Self behaving as a wave, every thought and emotion you have creates a wave action that then ripples out, impacting, mingling with and subconsciously perceiving every other Self out there. This is the concept of ‘relationship’. When my energy field co-mingles with your energy field, we are in relationship in that moment and perhaps ongoing even after we are no longer in physical communication, until my Self’s wave action and your Self’s wave action dissipate. As everything is energy, my Self energy is in relationship with everything and everyone I come into contact with. As I type, I am in relationship with the computer that has its own energetic field. As you read this, we are in relationship since this is my creation that is infused with my energy. When I think of a friend who lives on the other side of the world, my energy ripples out to connect with them across space and time and we are in relationship, even if they are not consciously aware.
Are you still with me?
While it’s beyond the scope of this article to dive too deeply into, there is one point I want to highlight.
Every thought that every person has and every emotion that every person has creates a wave action.
What that means is that my thoughts and emotions do no neatly reside within the privacy of my own mind and body. Nor do yours.
Have you ever had someone randomly come to mind and then they called later that day? That is telepathy. They were thinking of you, you felt the wave action of their thought energy and so they came to mind, seemingly out of the blue.
The same is true with our emotions. I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you found yourself saying, ‘I don’t understand what I’m so upset about.’ Perhaps you found yourself short tempered or tearful and had no idea why. While that sometimes happens when we’re in our Story and not feeling the emotions that are present in our physical body, it also happens when we are energetically picking up other’s emotions. This is empathy.
We have all been taught that the thoughts in our mind and the emotions in our body are ours. But that’s not always the case. It is important to learn how to discern your Self from other’s Self. Your energy from other’s energy. Your thoughts and emotions from other’s thoughts and emotions.
It is equally, if not more, important to practice good energetic hygrine, cleansing your energetic field of everyone else’s stuff. Most of us don’t do this and don’t know to do it or how to do it and that leaves us walking around with decades of every one else’s energetic crud built up, clogging our perception, short circuiting our ability to connect with Self and generally wrecking havoc in our lives.
While it beyond the scope of this article to flesh that out; I just want you to hold the concept when considering your Self and every other individual as an energetic being.
Self Energy as Particle
While I love simply BEING, I also love doing. Self behaving as a particle is where Self-led Leadership comes into play and that’s the really fun stuff for me personally.
This aspect of who we are as energetic beings is empowering. When we are connected with a strong Self Energy, we are filled to overflowing with the 8 C’s and the 5 P’s of Self, per Richard Schwartz’s IFS model.
The more of these adjectives you feel connected to and able to embody, the more Self Energy you are in. Meaning that you can exist in alignment with your authenticity, your Truth, living in integrity (which is when your actions match your words) in degrees.
Let’s play with an example.
Remember earlier I said that when we’re experiencing discomfort, we can over identify with our Story and be sucked out of Self energy. The more in our Story we are, the more we may perceive events through a scarcity mindset that tells us that we are lacking resources and even that we ourselves are not enough. When others come along trying to remind us of all that we do have, it can feel like gaslighting because we simply cannot perceive it.
For our example, I’ll share a personal story.
For over 20 years, I’ve struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, though for most of that time it was mild enough that I could function and at least pretend to be ‘normal’. In 2020, my body collapsed into debilitating CFS due to the aftereffects of Covid. (Long Covid and CFS are the same thing and CFS was not even recognized by much of the medical world until Long Covid. Talk about gaslighting!)
I attempted to continue my life as I always have and just kept faceplanting. It took a long time for me to realize that this wasn’t my typical CFS that I was used to mitigating. In certain ways I’m a quick study. In other ways, I have to learn things the hard way. It’s been quite a roller coaster. Let’s look at this wild ride during moments of Story and moments of Self.
My Story Perspective
When in my Story, I feel as if something is wrong with me and that I am somehow broken and less than. I live in fear that I’ll always be sick. I perceive through a scarcity mindset that tells me that all my clients and colleagues and friends will abandon me and that I’ll die alone and poor. I also live in toxic shame and I try to hide what I think is my ugly truth by showing up the way I think others will approve of. This has be over committing, then bailing at the last minute because I am too sick to honor my commitments. My scarcity mindset telling me that I’ll be loose everything and will be poor, also has me not only overcommitting but committing to projects that are not in alignment with who I truly am and I’m desperately hoping they’ll pan out to be financially lucrative.
My Self Perspective
When in Self energy, I know – I mean truly KNOW – that I am whole and complete just as I am. I KNOW that I am perfectly capable, even if my capabilities might look different from other’s and from myself of the past. I live in an abundance mindset that tells me that I have and will always have all I need. I’m able to pivot and redefine ‘need’. Even if a client leaves (which has never happened), that does not mean that my business will collapse. Even if everyone were to leave me, that doesn’t say anything about who I am and only says that they are not the right people to have in my life at this time and that without them, I’ll be able to grow, grow, grow and will attract to me all the right people. I am able to see the endless blessings I am surrounded by. Sure, I may be sick and on the couch for days at a time but I am blessed with a roof over my head and a couch to crash on. Even when I’m behind on the bills and don’t know where my next client or student is coming from, I KNOW that the right client and student will come at the right time, through projects that are in alignment with my highest good, even if that means experiencing a financial drought. I KNOW that I’ll weather the drought just fine and will come out the other side luxuriating in supporting clients and students and being in relationship with friends who feed my soul and I theirs.
I could go on and on with this example. Especially, when writing about the Self energy, I just get all fired up and excited and have tears in my eyes as I consider my endless blessings! Can’t you just feel the difference between Story and Self?
So what is the magic secret to accessing Self energy when you’re caught up in your Story?
Well, it goes back to those 8 C’s and 5 P’s. What does that look like though? How do you access those things at will?
I often say to clients and students,
“There is a difference between knowing (pointing at head) and knowing (pointing at heart).”
For much of our lives, many of us often feel that life is something that is being done to us. We waft to and fro like flotsam and jetsam on the ocean. at the whim of currents we have no control over. That’s the Story.
Once you learn that there is another way, that you can rise above the Story by connecting to Self energy via such things as curiosity, creativity, perspective and perseverance, then you can begin to choose differently.
The tricky part in the beginning, is recognizing when you’re in your Story. The more time you spend in Self, the more easily you’ll recognize when you’re in Story. As with everything, practice makes perfect.
As you begin getting better at recognizing when you’re in Story, you’ll have to do something that can feel counterintuitive. You’ll have to trust what you know (pointing at head) even when your KNOWING (pointing at heart) says something very different.
Let me share another example.
Because of allowing CFS to pull me into Story on/off for years, over time my calendar and business and life was riddled with projects and commitments that were out of alignment with my Self and with my vision for my company and life. Some of these commitments were potentially lucrative. I finally reached a point though, where I was able to just barely connect with enough Self energy to know that I’d gone astray. Then I’d lose the tenuous connection and in my scarcity mindset, I’d pile on even more commitments that were out of alignment with who I am.
I finally was able to see what I was doing and had a tough choice to make. While I knew (pointing to head) that I am abundant, it felt like a distant dream that couldn’t possibly be real. My body knowing (pointing to heart) was telling me a very different Story of lack. The choice was to counterintuitively trust my head knowing at least long enough to be able to reconnect with Self energy.
This would happen in fits and starts as I pulled myself apart, back and forth between Story and Self, the Self that I couldn’t feel but was trying to trust was there.
Man, that is HARD!
It doesn’t help that most people are living in their Story with a scarcity mindset, telling you that you’re stupid and sabotaging yourself when you try to make decisions as you think your Self would. There is all the pressure in the world to believe the Story, to live in that scarcity mindset, to run yourself into the ground and feel that life is being done to you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
When you’re putting this into practice, you will flounder and mess it all up and totally drop the ball. That is perfectly ok and to be expected. Just keep coming back, trusting that Self, even when you can’t feel it.
Connecting With Intention
As often as you think of one or all of the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of Self, pause and lean into that energy.
Set reminders for yourself.
Ask yourself if you’re feeling curious or compassionate, if you’re able to have an abundance mindset perspective and if you’re able to persevere when things don’t go as you’d hoped. This isn’t about assessing if you’re doing it right or wrong. That’s Story. This is about checking in, seeing to what degree of Self energy you may be connected to and consciously choosing to connect with more of those C’s and P’s.
It Gets Easier With Practice
The beginning stages of learning new skills can be pretty rough. Remember the bloody knees as you learned to ride a bike? But it does get easier.
Many years ago, when my now grown kids were little, we were living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck. I was behind on every bill, receiving threats of foreclosure from the bank and the car was constantly breaking down. One day my neighbor was banging on my door early in the morning in a panic. She was holding my cat, Sabien, who had been caught up in the fan of her car when she started it. I didn’t even stop to think.
I took the precious bundle from her and raced to the nearest animal hospital. I ran back past the reception area and handing Sabien to the vet (who was with another patient), I said, ‘Do everything you can. I don’t care about the cost.”
Later, a friend who was no longer a friend after that day, said to me, ‘You spent how much on a stupid cat when you’re about to lose your house!?”
She was in her Story that had her perceiving through a scarcity mindset. I was in Self energy that had me perceiving through an abundance mindset, knowing that I already had all that I needed and that I always will.
Sabien regained full health and vitality AND I received an unexpected lump sum of money that was more than enough to get caught up on all bills and fix the car. That’s the magic of living in Self.
The point I want to highlight though is that at that critical moment when my neighbor was freaking out on my porch, I easily could have dropped into my Story. Because of practice, I was able, in that critical moment to surrender, which allowed me to rest in Self, feeling empowered to make choices that were in alignment with my authenticity and kept me living in integrity.
And isn’t that the life each of us has always dreamed of?
This is the power and magic of being a Self-led Leader.
You are not alone.
If you could use some support to rise above Story and reconnect with Self, then we need to talk. Click the link to schedule your free Empowerment Session to lean how I can support you.