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Escaping Your Personal Prison | How to Access Your Inner Self and Inner Peace

Happiness

“Happiness!” For most, it’s THE goal. Especially for those wrestling with mood disorders, PTSD, other anxiety woes, psychosis, and more. But, really, what is it? For my dough, THE goal is inner peace. So let’s chat how to secure it by accessing the Inner Self…

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I introduced the concept of securing inner peace through finding and freeing the imprisoned Inner Self. This powerful notion was presented to me during a therapy seminar a few weeks back.

The Inner Self Is?

For the troubled soul, the IS is typically imprisoned by the personality – the sum of our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Prob is, most folks believe the personality is who they are. Actually, it’s how.

Quick thumbnail, k? We all have an ego – that part of our psyche that mediates between the conscious and unconscious, handles reality testing, and maintains a sense of personal identity.

Located deep within the ego is our Inner Self (IS) – a marvelous reservoir that holds our finest dreams and potential. It also holds everything we need for fulfillment, and truly wants it for us. The IS is our inner peace headquarters.

The Personality Problem

So if the IS is “all that,” why is grabbing a measure of inner peace so difficult?

For the troubled soul, the IS is typically imprisoned by the personality – the sum of our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Prob is, most folks believe the personality is who they are. Actually, it’s how.

News flash! Our personality is the baggage our consciousness totes about so it can deal with the world to get what it believes it needs – the entire time the IS (who we are) remains imprisoned. And make no mistake about it, our personality will resist anything it deems threatening, so it’s learned to throw up defense mechanisms to maintain its distance from the IS – locking it up.

Some common defense mechanisms? Here are some shared in the comment section of Part 1

Not speaking-up, taking drugs, obsessing, avoiding contact with others, intentionally avoiding hurtful and troubling subject matter by diverting to insignificant material.

Inner Peace = Merging Our Personality and Inner Self 

If we’re to escape our personal prison – and secure inner peace – we have to merge our personality and IS. They have to become one and the same. Only then will they work in harmony to allow us to reach our intended potential (and purpose).

Thing is, though, our IS – the true self – won’t adapt and change to conform to our personality. Actually, it can’t. So that means our personality has to change; however, that isn’t going to happen as long as those defense mechanisms are rollin’ hot and heavy.

So how do we put aside our defense mechanisms?

The first step is identifying and understanding those we use. Always keep in mind, the personality uses defense mechanisms to ensure it doesn’t have to change.

It’s crucial we understand our personality uses a variety of strategies to sustain itself. One is covering-up its foundational weaknesses. A common technique is focusing upon those of others. I mean, if we’re consumed with the flaws of others, we can continue to avoid identifying and managing our own challenges. Right?

Another strategy used by our personality is overemphasizing the importance of specific things in life, thereby ignoring our weak spots. To that end, the personality tries to compensate for basic failures by creating and over-fulfilling unneeded needs – things we believe we have to have; however, truly don’t.

To implement the fix, we have to deny what we’re sure is so important in life. Some folks believe honesty, fairness, and love aren’t at all necessary. So their personality proposes other things – possessions, power, pleasure, inflicting pain, etc. – as vital. And the personality boldly tries to convince these folks they need these things to find peace. Heck, the personality will even tell them how to obtain them, and it really doesn’t care what it takes. All the while, they remain so industrious they don’t see what’s happening to them.

This has to be confronted, because as long as any of us are stuck on a level where obtaining possessions, power, pleasure/pain, and more is paramount, we’ll never secure inner peace.

Other personality strategies? Well, there’s the matter of rationalizing behavior by justifying and making excuses. This, of course, requires seeing our beliefs and attitudes as rational. Well, that’s easy – we can continue to look at the world in a manner that confirms what we already believe about it. By the way, we use defense mechanisms to pull it off.

Finally, when all else fails and our personality just can’t get what it wants, it plays a slick trick. It simply blames anyone, or everyone, for the problem at hand.

Let’s Tie a Bow

How ’bout we wrap things up with an exercise, taking us back to focusing upon the weaknesses of others? Make a list of how you believe folks truly are. Include the personality traits and characteristics you believe dominate their being. After completing your list, take a long, hard look. In fact, you’ll be reviewing a list detailing your own personality – having very little to do with others.

People, if we’re to escape our personal prisons and secure inner peace, we have to first recognize we’re, in fact, incarcerated. And to determine who we really are, we have to break-through the insulation. And that means turning our defense mechanisms away.

I think it’s time we start a dialogue between our personality (Outer Self) and Inner Self. I’m also thinking it’s long overdue.

Agree? Nope? Tell us about it in a comment…

Again, thanks to Gregory L. Little, EdD and Kenneth D. Robinson, EdD for their outside-the-box thinking.

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  • Nancy Frye Peden

    Bill, I think I like this one even better than part 1!

    I thought of all of this as a read a wonderful post by my friend/philosopher, Hune Margolis, on FB. Here is one way he suggests we reroute the ego.

    “…poetry is immanent, not transcendent. we don’t reach out for it, we reach in-between and bring out. there are two existential fallacies: the fallacy of being-in-the moment, and the fallacy of we-will-be-in the future. both fallacies are nourished in the drives of the unhappy ego. joys we may feel in shallow in-the moments may be hidden despairs of our souls and the burdens we will carry tomorrow. we must tell the ego that keeps us in bondage to these shallow moments to let us go free! joys we postpone for some future time may be the burdens we are carrying today and the regrets of our later souls. we must tell the ego that keeps us in bondage to some future time to go away! poetry is the manifestation of the true in-the moments of our lives, for this is what poetry does: it discloses all embedded fallacies in our lives and also the peace that can be found in the-between…”

    from “a brief digression into the reality of the poetic life”, by hune margulies

    Sorry it is not a list of all my imagings of others. Will work on them. BTW in my eyes they are all perfect and I am the one that is screwed up. That was my personality speaking. My own IS says we are all beautiful human beings with simple wants and needs to be loved and respected.

    • Thanks for stopping-by and contributing, Nancy. Your participation in Part 1 was helpful to all of us. Glad you think this piece is the better of the two installments. Always aim to improve LOL.

      Wonderful excerpt from Margulies.Readers, here’s more on Dr. Margulies http://www.culture-and-ecology.com/id9.html

      Hey! Careful on that they’re perfect and I’m the one who’s screwed-up belief. I’m thinking that ain’t exactly how it is ; )

      As always, thank you, Nancy…

      Bill

  • Nancy Frye Peden

    Sorry to post again. I, me and my ego, just really blew it. I have been studying my genetics and I cannot get anyone else in my family interested. That is fine with me. But I have an addict brother and I have genes coded for schizophrenia, sadly. I wrote an email to my other brother, hoping it might engender some compassion and good ole Google without my noticing, adding the addicted bros. name so he got the email suggesting he too may be schizophrenic. So I want to give my ego a full big chunk of blame and say, Fuck you, Gmail.

    To my addict brother, I have repeatedly said I am sorry but this will probably never heal. He has cut himself off from the family and now I too will join them in the shame booth. I feel awful. Mea culpa.

    • Well, it’s one sticky wicket, Nancy – but you sure didn’t intend to hurt your addicted brother. Obviously an email boo-boo. Ego involvement? Eh, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (Siggy Freud). Things happen. Nothing more you can do, but to offer an apology, which you’ve done…

      Bill

  • I like this one as well, Bill. Continual genuine inner peace has been a goal for me for a long time. There are times where it’s there and times when all the junk gets in the way. I like your explanation that “Inner Peace = Merging Our Personality and Inner Self.” Thank you!

    • I’m with you, Cathy. I long for max inner peace, and it’s very difficult to secure and maintain. Kind of a mental discipline, yet one doesn’t want to spend too much time in their head. Lots of “junk,” yes. And so on we go, right? Best to you, Cathy, on your journey. Thank you for your faithful visits and participation…

      Bill

  • Nancy Frye Peden

    Just found another quote from a local shaman that I really like. I was taught that this play of ego and IS is a dynamic one. Here is what Reda Rackley posted:

    Jung refers to the transcendent function as the mediating force between oppositions within the psyche. The transcendent function arises out of intense and concentrated conflicts within the individual. Like the koan of the Zen masters, extreme and painful paradoxes can lead us to a place where we must transcend the ego so that our perception of reality is no longer split into two opposing forces. Jung says that holding the tension of the opposites is essential to bridging the gap between ego-consciousness and the unconscious. If the tension between the opposites can be held long enough without succumbing to the urge to identify with one side or the other, the third, completely unexpected image, one that unites the two in a creative new way, comes into view.

    I once created an exercise to do this, with the help of another person. It can be an amazing experience to even just for a moment sit in the NOW. Must dig that out on my new computer if I can.

    • Absolutely – see if you can find the exercise and share with us, Nancy. Thank you for your ongoing contributions…

      Bill

      • Nancy Frye Peden

        Ok, you asked for it and I found it after years away from it. I don’t know how to upload a nice .pdf of it so you’re gonna get it all, here, right now.

        Chapter Twelve

        The art of knowing: How do we know?

        Noticing How Thoughts and Feelings Affect Behaviors and Choices

        This process is based on Stanley Kelemen’s HOW Process Introduction

        This is a good one to do at a face to face meeting to help create trust and acceptance. It should also be useful during very stressful times, such as mid or end of semester, with a friend. It can lead to a very grounded, peaceful state if done slowly and mindfully enough.

        Intentions

        To begin to understand that body and mind are not separate.

        To begin to recognize how thoughts and feelings affect behavior. To help recognize habitual patterns found in our bodies. To help experience choice when patterns are made conscious. To free energy and experience creative flow.

        To simply feel our feelings and not react.

        To learn a method of problem solving.

        Materials

        Pencil and paper for a partner who will take notes. Pillows to sit on across from a partner.

        Directions

        Note 1: This is a sophisticated exercise and should begin very slowly, gently and a bit casually, in fun and curiosity. In later sessions, as participants become more comfortable, deeper feelings may be expressed as confidence in self, the process and group safety grow.

        Note 2: Gender differences in the ability to access and name feelings, emotions and thoughts may become evident. This or other processes may

        be used casually and slowly, for becoming more familiar with basics of emotions.

        Step 1. To begin: Find a researcher/partner and sit across from him or her.

        At first perhaps encourage partners/co researchers to choose each other, later try other methods so there is experience of differences. One co researcher will do the HOW process, acting as subject/co researcher while the other will act as data collector and co researcher, taking down notes of what the subject/co researcher learns. Later they will switch roles.

        After reciting an overview of the process, above all encourage each to go slowly, aware of breath and above all being curious and open, noticing what happens in bodies, muscles and breath while experiencing thoughts, images, ideas and feelings.

        Step 2: Picture a moment in your mind, now or in the past. Closing your eyes may help you notice what happens in your body.

        After hearing instructions, subject/co researcher will take three deep breaths and relax, eyes open softly or closed and begin by reporting what he/she is noticing in his or her body at this moment.

        Ask yourself, how do I feel in my body when I am thinking/feeling this picture in the present moment?

        And what am I noticing about how I make my body into this form when I am thinking/feeling these thoughts?

        There is no right answer, just collect data on what you are noticing as your data collector take notes.

        Step 3. : How might you change or release this pattern? What would it feel to do it differently?

        Go very slowly, and see how you stop doing what you were doing.

        Very slowly, notice and report as you stop doing it.

        This may require relaxation or it may mean getting more alert or tense. It is not what you are doing that is important, but the noticing and reporting. In this step do the movements very slowly, making your body pose more, then less, like an accordion, playing around slowly with doing it more or less.

        Make muscles tighter, suck up more, and get as tight as you can, do it more. Then slowly, gently, do it less, until you have done it less and feel an ending, like something in your body has come down as far as it wants to come down and given up.

        Keep reporting and do the more and less action another time or two very gently.

        What feelings do you notice as you do your pattern differently?

        Step 4.: After letting down a last time, stay with the less position, gently in a pause mode. This is not passive, but still alert, noticing feelings, thoughts and sensings.

        If you have gone very slowly and gently with yourself, you may begin to feel yourself fill-up with feelings, ideas and sensations.

        Go slowly, and you may notice your natural energy arriving to move you to what will happen next.

        Stay slow and interested, not forcing anything, just noticing and perhaps, quietly reporting. Ask yourself how am I waiting?

        Do I get impatient or lazy or just curious and noticing? Do I find it hard to pay attention to myself?

        Do I want to rush to the next activity?

        Do I feel happy or anxious when I am not moving?

        Finally, a response will form in your body and your “state of mind” will have shifted. Keep noticing and gently reporting to your data collector..

        Step 5.: Review your data together with your co research group. Gently transition into a tea, water and/or bathroom break and return to circle for a gentle sharing of the data collected or for the next subject/co researcher to explore how they react in their body when having thoughts, feelings, ideas, and images.

        Step 6.: How did I respond to a new feeling, thought or body-sensing?

        This is your chance to be free of your pattern and express something different or to review and return to your pattern because you feel value in it.

        This is your creative choice; there is no right or wrong. How do you feel? What would you like to act in your body now? Go very slowly right now with yourself until you feel like moving more.

        Later review original intentions from above and how the data collection helps or hinders these intentions being met.

      • Well, you delivered big-time, Nancy. Thank you for sharing this excellent exercise.

        Folks, I know Nancy well – and I want you to know how amazingly proactive she is regarding improving her personal circumstances. She researches – and works – so hard, and I have so much respect and admiration for her. And, go figure, she takes the time to share so she might positively impact another’s life.

        Thanks again, Nancy. You’re an important part of Chipur…

        Bill

      • Nancy Frye Peden

        Ah, Bill, I am, almost blushing. Thanks so very much the compliment. The excercise really works when done very slowly. Every thought has a muscular position to go with it and in this you take a thought, and study the way it impacts your body. If you do it (the body position) less and more and slowly move between the positions you just might, as I have experienced, find yourself in a place of deep delight, the IS!

        Here is some info on Keleman. He is a hero of mine. He has got to be in his nineties. Maybe I need to make a goal to go see him, he is two hours away….

        http://www.centerpress.com/about.html

        Hope some twosomes try it and report in…that would be lovely.

        Thanks for the encouragement, Bill.

      • It’s all you, kid…

        Bill

      • Nancy Frye Peden

        Want to add that this is all not easy to do and if you hold a position in too much tension you may feel anger arise. If you can stick with it, and let your inner self relax, the anger will go but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

      • All adds allowed…

  • Holy smokes, Bill – this series is AMAZING!! I’ve got to re-read – so much here to digest but wow, talk about happiness, peace and freedom! Thank you!!

    • We’ll thank you, Lisa. And you’re welcome. Please continue to visit and participate…

      Bill

  • bheretoday

    Nailed it! Especially the last part about making a list of others’ personality traits–character defects, if you will. I have learned the hard way (many times) that what I attack in someone else is usually a glaring reflection of a nasty little part of my personality.

    You’ve done a terrific job with this two-part series, Bill. I know it’s helpful and useful to many.

    • Well, aren’t you just the one, Beth?! Thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the series. Please continue to visit and contribute, k????

      Bill

  • Patricia Miller

    As a person who has always believed she built her personality from the “best of” others along the way in order to create the illusion of being a “real person” as a child, I can completely accept the reality that the personality is HOW we are and is comprised of behaviors and beliefs. That the personality is a construct feels natural to me, and not foreign at all. It makes totally brilliant sense to me as well that some of these components work for us and some work against us. I can only tell you thank you and thank you again for posting this article series because as the locals say, “this dog hunts”. The concept of merging the pieces of positive componentry of the personality with the IS is like a fabulous software upgrade. I am SO ready for Patricia version 5.5! You get the bonus points for this great work, Bill.

    • Well, look who it is! Patricia’s in the house. Glad you cruised on by. Dang, I like it – “this dog hunts.” Feels right to me, as well. Guess I wouldn’t have posted it had it not.

      Hey, I’m sure hopin’ – thinkin’ – you’ll zoom with v 5.5 (wondering how you came up with the #). Makes me feel good to know you found the series meaningful, Patricia. Thank you…

      Bill