What is a Substitute Sense of Self?

In the Terminology list a Substitute Sense of Self is defined as: ‘A positive, ‘high’, ecstatic ’feeling ‘or ‘mood’ or ‘state of emotional being’ which results from an action or achievement aimed at achieving that very feeling that initially was meant as a condition to be fulfilled in order to get the need met of being acknowledged by the parent as a potential independent and autonomous person. Overtime this feeling, this ‘high’ becomes a Substitute way of Sensing the Self, in a person who didn’t develop a Natural Sense of Self. This state of emotional ‘high’ functions as the ultimate ‘goal-in-life’ and leads to compulsive behaviors aimed at achieving the high.

Sensing the Self in this way involves a never-ceasing effort to experience an emotional state of feeling a deep satisfaction/relaxation  because of  being  ‘in order’  having been (temporarily) able to live up to the self-imposed conditions deemed necessary for the satisfaction of the need of sincere attention and acknowledgment as autonomous and independent person by the mother.

A Substitute Sense of Self is an emotional state of ‘feel-good-about-Self which results from a ‘successful’ outcome concerning a desired behavior or action. This emotional state gives the person a Sense of Self, albeit a substitute (unnatural, unhealthy) Sense of Self. The person feels that getting this Substitute Sense of Self is vital because it is felt to be a guarantee of ‘persistence of existence’ rather than of ‘being annihilated’.

However, the experience of a Substitute Sense of Self is unfortunately and discouragingly transient. The effect of a positive achievement lasts only for a while and then wears off or is ended by the day being over and the night (sleep time) starting. In my case a Substitute Sense of Self doesn’t survive a night, doesn’t carry over from day to day. Therefore the Substitute Sense of Self needs to be renewed over and over again. There is compulsiveness to this need for renewal, because of the perceived risk of losing one’s sense of safety.

The term ‘Substitute Sense of Self ‘ connotes that a Substitute Sense of Self is pathological: the Substitute Sense of Self is an unhealthy Sense of Self. When a Substitute Sense of Self is at the steering wheel of our lives, we go through life in a non-authentic way. The Substitute Sense of Self has taken the place of our never developed Real-or Authentic Self so we ‘are not truly existing’, not fully existing. We miss out on life in a profound way, without even realizing that this is happening.

The person who lacks a Natural Sense of Self and whose life is guided by and anchored in a Substitute Sense of Self isn’t in touch with the core of her own being. A person who has a Substitute Sense of Self is not really living through his authentic, real (Natural) Self but is merely the ‘Slave’ of a conditional fiction.

This fiction feeds the perception that in order to ‘have my existence prolonged and not be annihilated I need to have a continuous flux of ‘feel-good-about-myself’ (remember the initial meaning of the Substitute Sense of Self: the actual sincere attention and acknowledgment of the mother which would lead to a Nat Sense of Self). The fear of annihilation plays into the real circumstance of not being heard and seen in your essence and not being acknowledged as an independent and autonomous person and as such feel reduced to nothing more than a bodily presence without a voice or a face.

Now the Substitute Sense of Self actually consists of these moments.

The Substitute Sense of Self is a structure of the mind put in place (by Nature) to ‘prop up’ the psychological and emotional body of the person who is without the ‘spine’ provided by a Natural Sense of Self.  A person who is guided by the Substitute way of Sensing the Self is continuously busy trying to ‘score’ on the scale of the Substitute Sense of Self-oriented goal: ‘feel-good-about-the-Self’. That is the only reference he or she has to the Self. Experiencing the Self that way generates the impression of having successfully avoided the experience of feeling ‘annihilated’.

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