Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lesson # 1: Go back to yourself

My first reading assigned as an OT student was “Basic Awareness of Self” from Carol M. Davis. As I mentioned before, my previous studies had been in Biomedical Sciences and although I learned a lot, self-awareness wasn't one of the topics in the syllabus. In my years of High School, I did  read a lot about those topics since I enjoyed self'-help and Christian books which helped me get to know myself better and get out successfully of that identity crisis that all adolescents go through. However, self-reflection was something I had neglected while submerged in carbon molecules, cells and their receptors. Talking again about those topics was like dusting off an old book.

 I remember that the reading talked about the persona, the ego, the shadow and the self. It said that the persona was that mask that we put for society, the ego was what told us what was right and what was wrong and kept our feet on the ground; although sometimes the reality that the ego told us about ourselves was distortional and made us believe we were better or worse based on what people said. The shadow was the part that no one knew about us, and that sometimes came out unexpectedly.  Finally, the self, that was what made us unique (God, for others the "energy" within us, the connection with truth) lied beneath all those layers and it would only come out once we learn to accept ourselves just the way we are.The author tells us that since we are born, we have that connection with our true self, but when we start learning the rules of society, we start becoming more like others want us to be than what we really are. We act in the way that we think will bring us love and recognition, but deeply we know that the persona is only a mask.

I think it's important to follow the rules of society to be able to interact successfully with other people but, at the same time, I think that unconsciously we care too much about what others think about us.  That first day of class I learned (and I'm still trying to apply it to my life) that I shouldn't hide my personality or my opinions to please others. I need to worry about accepting myself first. Only that way, when I learn to respect my true self, the rest will do the same. All this relates to Occupational Therapy because only from the true self is that we can give the best care to our patients. If we live from the outside, we can take the risk of using our patients to satisfy our personals need for love and recognition, which is not ok.

“We all have the desire to be recognized  by what we are,  not by what we think others want us to be. Free from the need to be right, and the fear to be wrong"
-Carol M. Davis
The reading warns us that achieving this takes hard work, suffering and compromise. However, starting this journey also lifts a weight out of your shoulders. Thanks to that reflection, I have started to realize that if someone treats me badly, or doesn't accept me, it's probably not my fault.  Maybe that person is living from her/his outer emotions instead of living from her/his true self. The same thing happens when I have a hard time accepting someone else's personality. Now I can analyze if the real problem is my attitude that needs to change. It's difficult to apply this to everyday life, because our ego constantly tells us who we are based on the critics or compliments we get from others. I think that getting to the real self is an effort that lasts a lifetime. The important thing is: it's worth it.

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