Introduction for the Comparison Chart

If you begin to suspect that your life is more about being a ‘Slave’ of compulsively fulfilling conditions instead of actively choosing your do’s and don’ts, it seems useful to know what the actual sensations are experienced by someone who does have a Natural Sense of Self so you can check yourself on that. My answer to that very understandable question might come across as somewhat disappointing, as it was also for me, when I realized I would not be able to come up with that description as I never had a Natural Sense of Self myself.

Having more or less successfully developed a Natural Sense of Self is a healthy and normal situation and therefore I consider the absence of it abnormal. This abnormality leads to all kinds of pathological signs and symptoms. That is why we can say that “the presence of a Sense of Self is marked by the absence of symptoms of Lack of Sense of Self.”

So what I will do is describe the signs and symptoms that reveal that you are not in touch with yourself but relying on a Substitute Sense of Self. If, by studying this Comparison Chart, you identify with Group B a lot, than chances are that you fall into the category of people whose coping mechanism in early childhood had to be creative in trying to get its needs met. As it became obvious over time that your need of being acknowledged as a potential independent and autonomous person wasn’t met automatically you had to find out who and how you had to be to get something that at least looked like acknowledgment; based on your observations you concluded that various conditions needed to be fulfilled to get some sort of a response upon which you could form the idea that you were worth someone’s attention, that you were allowed to be’.

Unfortunately these are unconscious processes and consequently you still find yourself fulfilling those conditions while finding yourself rather ‘enduring life as opposed to living it as the person you actually are’ (expression borrowed from Melody Beattie: “Beyond Co-dependency” Hazelden 1989).  If this is the case it is high time to make those Youth Survival Strategy-observations and decisions that turned for you into Ego-References, conscious. You might consider yourself the Slave of a Substitute Sense of Self-oriented goal: having to fulfill those conditions in order to get into a state in which you experience something that you are used to relate to as you but that in fact has nothing to do with you as your own being.

So once again, the presence of a Natural Sense of Self is marked by the absence of the symptoms that are generated by the Substitute Sense of Self, which replaces or fills up the void left by a Lack of Sense of Self. Assessing your own condition will not be done by checking on particular feelings or sensations that are typical for a Natural Sense of Self, but by checking yourself on the presence of any signs and symptoms that come up in case you don’t have that Natural Sense of Self and are dependent on (the structure) of a Substitute Sense of Self.

This means that if you don’t show any of the symptoms generated by a Substitute Sense of Self-dependency this probably means you have successfully developed a Natural Sense of Self. The presence of the symptoms caused by the dependency on a Substitute Sense of Self is an unnatural and unhealthy condition. It is more natural to not display any of those symptoms.

Let me explain once more clearly that a Lack of Sense of Self automatically leads to a Substitute Sense of Self and therefore the term is in a way obsolete and only wants to convey where the Substitute Sense of Self comes from. It is the dependency on the Substitute Sense of Self that generates the problems.

Where the reader goes next….