Harmful core beliefs

I am beginning to think that ridding myself of harmful core beliefs may be trickier than I thought. 

I have a good brain, and strong reasoning powers. In the past, when I needed to change my mind, thinking about it and sleeping on it was enough. These core beliefs aren't going away so easily. I guess that's what makes them core beliefs.

I have at least organized them into two groups: one which exists primarily because of experiences with my family, and another associated with church. School doesn't have a set of negative core beliefs; those are thankfully positive.

Family: Church:
I can't be authentically and spontaneously myself          I am unloveable
I am hollow God does not care about me
Mom doesn't love me I am compliant
Dad doesn't care about me Girls don't like me
  I am ugly

I was surprised yesterday how uncomfortable I was at church. Those are bigger than I thought they were. I spent time with family and really enjoyed it, so it seemed as though the usual reason-controlled process was working. But church threw me a little. A lot. Those beliefs go a lot deeper than I thought. They will take a lot more effort to destroy, more than just writing them down, organizing them, then burning each one in the fireplace as I replaced it with a positive core belief.

I'm interested to see how I'll do it.

Again, wish me luck. I need it.

The story of my life

Two years ago I lived a pretty shitty life. I was unhappy, and had no idea how to change that. I was afraid of people, afraid of fun, afraid of adventure (at least with anyone around), afraid to me myself, life was full of distractions to keep me busy, and socializing was painfully awkward.

In a fit of pain after a particularly awkward exchange with a very pretty woman, I thought about my life, realized there was something broken in me, and cried out, "GOD, FIX ME!"

After two years, and exploring the Nice Guy Syndrome, and aspects of Self Esteem, I found http://thebookoflife.org a website run by Alain de Botton, a British philosopher. There I found a storehouse of very good advice on how to be a human. I also found out about Donald Winnicott's work, including the idea of the False Self. All kinds of recognition happened, and I began to be free. I began to date, and had fun dating some very beautiful and entertaining women. I had deep conversations about the soul and emotions and life and other things which matter. But I knew something else dark was in there; I wasn't whole.

All was not right.

I used the techniques at http://cyquest.com to simply let myself experience the pain I felt deep down but always avoided. I cried. Like a baby. I was watching Inside Out, the Disney/Pixar movie, and the dam broke. In my sobs, I cried out over and over, "I just wanted to be happy."

So here's the story of my life, as I know it now:

I formed a belief (those things deep down in my brain which gives me motivation) when I was very young that I loved my older brother Lee and he will be the leader and I would follow: I'd follow him to school, baptism, priesthood, dating, mission, love, marriage, life.

Only that didn't happen. Lee had brain damage. He didn't do those things. I waited for him, because it would hurt him if I jumped ahead. And I waited. And waited. I went to school, but had already formed my second belief: I shouldn't be happy while Lee wasn't happy.

And so I wasn't happy. And the beliefs remained intact. And I started to hate Lee because he wasn't getting on with life, and I hated my younger brother Ross because he jumped right past the both of us.

I graduated high school and college, dated unhappily, went to grad school, dated, remained unhappy, graduated, taught for 18 years, remained unhappy. I went to the desert to avoid people; my own little hermitage.

Other beliefs formed because of the first two:

I can't be authentically and spontaneously myself
I am hollow
God does not care about me
I am unloveable
I am not valuable
Mom doesn't love me
Dad doesn't care about me
Girls don't like me
I am compliant
I am ugly

Somewhere in there, early on as a preteen I think, maybe earlier, a sort of false self developed. It developed to deal with the pain, the very real emotional pain of wanting happiness in my heart and not wanting the happiness in my mind. I turned my heart off, and began to live in my mind. From then on I was doomed to a shitty life until I found my heart again, and discovered why I turned my heart off. Else I would regress and it would continue.

On the 13th of August, 2016, I discovered my false self, and my heart.

Today, on the 23rd of November 2016, I knew why. I remembered that first belief.

I need to build a new set of beliefs. It will take time, just as discovering these things took two years:

I am happy
I am awesome
God loves me
I want a loving wife
I love others
I feel alive
I have authentic joy
I want a beautiful wife
I will be a great husband
I have love, plenty to share

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Strengths finder results


Your Theme Sequence report presents the 34 themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your
responses to StrengthsFinder. Your Signature Themes, the five most dominant, are listed first.

Your Theme Sequence can be helpful to you in exploring beyond your Signature Themes. By
leveraging the themes of talent toward the top of your sequence, you can enjoy personal and career
success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

The themes toward the bottom of your sequence are likely to be less apparent in your day-to-day
behaviors. Sometimes they reflect what people don't enjoy or think about very much.

Spend some time thinking about your unique Theme Sequence and consider how your themes,
separately or in combination, impact your work and personal life.

1. Empathy
People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people
by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

2. Adaptability
People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They
tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

3. Developer
People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential
in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these

4. Connectedness
People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between
all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

5. Relator
People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others.
They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

6. Woo
People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people
and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection
with another person.

7. Intellection
People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual
activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

8. Input
People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they
like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

9. Positivity
People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is
contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

10. Learner
People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to
continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites

11. Restorative
People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems.
They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

12. Strategic
People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed.
Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

13. Self-Assurance
People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to
manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their
decisions are right.

14. Ideation
People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able
to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

15. Belief
People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are
unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

16. Communication
People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their
thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

17. Context
People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They
understand the present by researching its history.

18. Includer
People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show
awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.

19. Activator
People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning
thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

20. Individualization
People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique
qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work
together productively.

21. Responsibility
People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of
what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

22. Futuristic
People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what
could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

23. Maximizer
People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to
stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into
something superb.

24. Arranger
People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a
flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources
can be arranged for maximum productivity.

25. Competition
People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the
performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.

26. Discipline
People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their
world is best described by the order they create.

27. Consistency
People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to
treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up
clear rules and adhering to them.

28. Achiever
People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work
hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

29. Deliberative
People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious
care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

30. Significance
People who are especially talented in the Significance theme want to be very important in the
eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.

31. Focus
People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and
make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

32. Command
People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take
control of a situation and make decisions.

33. Harmony
People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy
conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

34. Analytical
People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They
have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.

As you look through that list, you'll see some things which are surprising.

Analytical at the bottom of the list?!? I'm a scientist!

All five of my top 5 are relationship building! Whoa! 

Doki Doki

I have a game called Doki Doki Universe. It's about a robot trying to learn to be huan so it won't be melted down. A red balloon loves him.

Part of the game is a personality quiz. I just played it agian, and here is the result for me:

(Extreme) Casual: You prefer small casual groups to big ones. You have close friends.

(Extreme) Leader: You are feeling in charge. You are used to being a leader.

(Very) Baby secure: You are comfortable and secure with babies and family.

(Very) Sensitive: You're naturally empathetic and understand the feelings of others.

Romantic: You're looking for love, and attracted to the inner qualities of others.

Culture lover: You like foreign culture, and stories about people.

59% Yin (gentle and loving, creative and artistic), 41% yang (powerful and confident, analytical and logical)

5/6 Free spirit, 2/6 Realist: Artist Type, You prefer open-ended experiences to highly structured ones. Your creative mind makes you a natural artist.

4/6 Adventurous, 3/6 Careful: Energetic Adventurer, you dive right into new situations with energy and enthusiasm. You make decisions quickly and intuitively. You're a natural traveler. 

4/6 Playful, 3/6 Responsible: Shy Comedian, You have a great sense of humor but you're a bit shy and only share it with your friends. Others don't know how funny you are.

5/6 Gentle, 2/6 Strong: Gentle Giant, You are gentle and easy-going and you avoid conflict. Most others don't realize that you have unusual power.

6/6 Sweet, 1/6 Tough: Sweetheart Angel, You are truely a saint.  You're sweet and caring and nothing seems to upset you. You live to love, and you love everyone.

4/6 Confident, 3/6 Humble: Well-adjusted Ego, you are blessed with a well-balanced ego. This makes you well-suited to teaching.  Your friendships last a long time.

5/6 Romantic, 2/6  Shy: Flirtatious type, you flirt without even realizing that's what you're doing. People get crushes on you and you don't even know it.

4/6 Mellow, 3/6 Hyper: Good Listener, you can jam when you need to but mostly you move at a thoughtful pace. You are a very good listener.

6/6 Satisfied, 1/6 Rebellious: Dependable, you are very consitent and dependable. You are a rock of stability. You have a clear sense of purpose.

5/6 Extrovert, 2/6 Introvert: Outgoing, You're comfortable in groups and meet new people easily. Your  positive energy often makes you the center of attention.

6/6 Sensitive, 1/6 Celebrity: Empathetic Genius, you're highly tuned into the feelings of others. You may even be somewhat psychic. You would make an excellent counselor.

When Nice Ain't So Nice

Back in 1985 or 1986 I read an essay in BYU Magazine by Elouise Bell titled, "When Nice Ain't So Nice." It took me several tries before I could get through it.  It was hitting me very close to home, and made me very uncomfortable. You see, I prided myself in being a Nice Guy. You can read a later version at the link above. But there are parts I want to point out which I missed all those years ago:

"Niceness begins in the home; it is taught as a prime doctrine of the “poisonous pedagogy” Alice Miller exposes. Miller, a brilliant Swiss psychologist whose work is assuming major proportions in the field, has traced much neurosis to the philosophy, dominant throughout most of this century, that the role of the child is to be docile, obedient, and subservient to the parent, whose word is law. The “poisonous pedagogy” teaches children, in other words, to be “nice.” It demands that children not resist the status quo, not take any direct action against whatever injustices are going down. Thus it indirectly but inevitably encourages covert action, manipulation, passive-aggression, duplicity, and denial. (My mother used to say in so many words: “Be nice. Don’t argue with your father. Agree with him, and then slip out the back door and do what you want, like your brothers do.” She also said to me with a simper: “Your father is the head of the home, remember that. And I’m the neck that moves the head!” My response to such advice was often a single, very un-nice word.)"

I was struck by the similarity of the cause and effect between Niceness and the emergence, as I understand it, of the False Self.

The author goes on:

You’ve heard of the Nicene Creed, the Christian confession of faith first adopted in 325? Now hear the Nice Creed:

We believe in being Nice,
in speaking softly at all times,
even when loud objection may be
more logical;in saying nothing in
response to minor
inconveniences such as
being jostled on a bus,
or relegated to a back seat,
or not being allowed to ride at all,
or being run over by the bus;
and in saying even the most
appalling things in soft,
non-committal tones, even,
if worst comes to the worst,
in whispers.

We guard against silence as against
speaking out, for in silence is
Thought born; therefore, we
cultivate and foster small talk,
which says naught yet smothers

We believe that pleasantries are
better than truths, friendliness
better than honor, jocularity
better than Justice.

We believe that neatness is the end
of logic and cleanliness the
epitome of order.

And we most devoutly believe in
seeing nothing that is
or unpleasant.

We believe in turning the other head,
closing the other eye,
stopping the other ear,
and biting the other tongue.

On Being Shy

I'm writing this to shy people. I want to help you understand what's happening in your head. I am informed mostly by my own experience. And I hope that the non-shy people reading this can understand shy people better. This is not a part of the False Self series, but it is greatly informed by it.

Being shy is painful. I can be with someone, and have a lot I want to say, but it just doesn't come out, and it's frustrating. At the moment it happens I get confused, because I don't understand why it's happening. Afterward I rehearse over and over what I could have said, and how awesome I would have sounded, but when I'm with a person, particularly someone in authority, or a potential date, I just can't get the words out. I search for a way to say what I feel, try maybe a dozen approaches, but none of them work. And I get frustrated, blame it on myself for being so poor with people, and that causes pain. Eventually, I find it's just easier to avoid people, or to keep conversation on a very surface level, where I can process the conversation and take part. But even then, the conversation is about things mostly, and not very satisfying.

I have a theory explaining our shy behavior. It comes from Donald Winnicott. Back when we were a baby, just becoming aware of the world, we realized that we were us. At the same time we realized just how completely dependent we were on mom and dad. Mom fed us. If she didn't we knew we didn't feel good. They cleaned this mess that kept showing up. They held us, which felt wonderful, and touched us, which felt so good we'd stop asking for comfort the only way we knew how. 

Then one day, expressing some discomfort, we figured something out. We became aware that mom, and even dad, were telling us stuff. Sometimes they didn't seem to like us. They would try to make us be quiet. And then we got this bright idea, using our minds for the first time: if we are compliant to what these big people want, they will continue to feed, clean, and hold us. Sure, we still wanted to cry, and to do whatever we liked, but getting food was really important. Over the days, weeks and months we learned to read their faces, to learn when they were happy, and when they were frustrated or angry or unhappy. And when they were, we did our best to not express what we wanted, and to be "good."

This is a different experience from other babies. When they learned that parents were there to help them, they found that when they cried they were comforted. Mom just sort of knew what they needed or figured it out eventually, and they were allowed to explore being a baby in a strange new world. Sometimes they tried things that upset mom, but she forgot about it pretty quickly and still wanted to feed them and hold them.


Shy kids are taught to be shy as babies. Shy kids were taught by a frustrated mom to be compliant. To be compliant is an intellectual exercise of suppressing feelings, then using the intellect to determine what behaviors will make mom the happiest so that she will continue to provide our needs.

We who are shy are now experts at reading the emotions of others and making them happy by suppressing our feelings so that we appear nice, and happy, and genial. We won't fight, we won't argue, we will give in rather than risk alienating anyone. We are afraid of our feelings, because of the disaster that would follow the accidental and completely selfish expression of how we feel. 


And our feelings, which often remain buried deep, go unfulfilled. This is where the pain comes from. We are assisted by a culture which tells us that the meek will inherit the earth, and that the natural man is an enemy to God, which helps us think we're doing it right. But we know in the edge of awareness that there is something very painful lurking inside us. We have fantasies to help us. Lots of fantasies where we are accepted, where people listen to us and pay attention to the smallest things we do. We don't have fantasies where we are better than anyone else, just listed to by a lot of people.


And we have hope. We hope that someone will come along who understands us, and will accept the inside of us, where all the stuff inside us will be cherished, even if we don't cherish those feeling ourselves.

It's a hard life, being shy.

And it's hard to get to know someone who is shy. It takes a lot of work and patience to like or love someone whose life experience has taught them not to share their feelings. You need to tread carefully around a few emotions. Shame is probably the biggest one. You can't even get close to shaming anyone who is shy. For example, telling us our car needs a good wash can make us think we have let you down and you are disappointed. That shame threatens our very survival, because we are still operating on the feeling we developed as little babies. Getting to know us takes patience, care, understanding, and lots of one-way love.

We don't love ourselves. The mind can't love, and we have centered our identity in our minds. Without love for ourselves, we have little to spare on others. But we know that to get love you need to give love, so we do the best we can in faking love for you. This love will look mostly okay, but it gets peculiar at times, because it's mostly fake. There will be times when the love we feel is genuine, but when things become stressful, the love will be fake. And we will behave sometimes very oddly because of the difficulty the mind has in both suppressing our inner feelings and pretending to have different, more compliant feelings instead.

What shy people need more than anything is unconditional love. We need love that can see past the weirdness we do in a intimate relationship. We need acceptance. Eventually we will start to express things which have been inside us for a very long time which we aren't proud of. You will need to listen to us, accept that it is part of us, and find a way to love that, too.

If you are shy I want you to know two things:

You are worthy of happiness. Happiness is your right. It's your birthright, because it comes to you because you were born.

You are shy for reasons which don't exist any more. If you can read this, you are now in a position to express your feelings, and be cherished for having them. Try it out: find someone you don't know well, a stranger who hasn't any notion of who you are, and share a deep feeling with them. I've found almost universally that if you chose someone who isn't shy they will adore you for it. Only other shy people will have trouble expressing how delighted they are in finding someone who can be emotionally open.

If you are shy you are not broken. You don't need to be fixed. You just need to be listened to. Then you will learn over the next few days that you can express feelings and, instead of offending, you will be loved.

If you are with a shy person, listen to them, accept what they say as being genuinely part of them, and love them for it. And here is the payoff: shy people are deep. When they come to trust you they will become an unending font of love, interest and delight. They will love you deeper and better than anyone else you know. They will be loyal, will be willing to work hard for the relationship, harder than you, if you don't abuse their trust. It takes more effort at first, but the payoff is huge.

Why you should never believe anything which includes the phrase, "science tells us...."

I've become more aware of late of news articles, mainstream, NPR, all of them, using the phrase, "Science says..." or "Science tells us..." followed by a point the author wants to make. I want to tell you why you should never believe what follows that phrase. Ever.

Here's why:

Appeal to Authority One very common logical fallacy is an appeal to authority as a means of proving that what you said is correct. An example: "Einstein said that matter and energy of interconvertible, so he backs up my idea of harnessing dark energy." No, he didn't. Einstein had a mathematical equation to explain the energy produced in a nuclear reaction. Period. He never knew of your "dark energy harness" and thus is silent on the matter. Unless a scientist said exactly what you mean, he didn't say it, and your claim is then a lie. If you want to use a scientist as your authority, it has to be a real quote, in context, saying something pertinent, and you must include your citation.


Appeals to authority usually happen when the author is too weak or lazy to find out what a scientist actually said, and instead attribute the information to a nebulous and undefined group of ideas called "Science." This is an astounding body of knowledge, providing fully-tested theories on any topic an author chooses, and always in agreement with the author's ideas.

But here is where it gets really bad.

Personification of a Method Science is mute on all subjects always. "Science" can't say anything. Science is a method of finding things out, and it's never finished. Here is the short version of what scientists should do:

  1. make an observation which has no explanation using known theories
  2. postulate a possible explanation
  3. test the hypothesis formed above in a way that exposes its weaknesses
  4. go back to step one and refine your hypothesis
  5. eventually you will have enough evidence to be believed. It takes many different groups and a lot of published papers, but in time you can say, "Congratulations hypothesis, now you're a theory!"
  6. All it takes is one counter-observation to nullify the theory. They just don't last all that long before a new theory is needed.

That's science. Nowhere in that process is there a place for science to speak. Only scientists can speak, and then it should be only about what they can prove. So you can quote a scientists, but never "science." 


Scientists are Humans And there's something more here: not all scientists can use the scientific method. There are entire fields, the "soft sciences" (biology, cosmology, astrochemistry, social science, political science, economics, baseball stats, etc.), which deal with observations which can't be tested and thus can't be proven. What they are trying to do is explain a mechanism (how something happened in the past) and no mechanism is testable. One-shot events (non-repeatable and non-testable observations), remote observations which limit the amount of data needed to fully understand what was observed, complex systems poorly understood, which all prevent the testing of the hypothesis. And the soft scientists naturally get used to speaking of the untested hypothesis as though it were tested, imparting more significance to their work than it deserves under the stricter application of the scientific method. In short, some scientists talk out of the sides of their mouths. "We know that the active site of acetyl-CoA synthase contains nickel and iron atoms" is something I heard for years in my PhD work in bioinorganic chemistry. And then the crystal structure showed, pretty clearly, that copper and zinc were there as well. Oops. We should have been saying, "EPR, Mossbauer, and some good metal extraction chemistry lead us to think that only nickel and iron are in the active site," but that would have been too many words. So we simplified, and spoke with greater surety than we possessed. And you non-scientists need to know something, every scientist does this. We're only human. We all overstate, in conversation, what we think as though it were what we had proven.

The Untestable Hypothesis as Science. The "Soft Sciences" are the realm of the untestable hypothesis. Social science, political science, economics (mostly), history, paleontology, cosmic physics, all try to explain what happened, but really all they can do is make a guess which is hard to challenge, because the data is thin, and the hypothesis is utterly untestable. All arguments are those of opinion. The phrase, "All science is physics. The rest is stamp collecting," applies very much to the soft science. The hard sciences, physics, chemistry, some biology, very little geology, can be examined in detail in a lab, and experiments constructed to eliminate bad hypothesis and refine the theory. No controversy.

P-hacking. The "p" value is a statistical variable which is supposed to represent how likely the result came from chance. A value of 0.05 (5%) is considered by many to the the value you must attain before the data you measured is a real effect. I'm happy at p=0.00, but I'm in a hard science, and I can afford the certainty. The thing about a p-value: it continually changes as you gather data. For a real effect you measure, it should get smaller as you gather more data. But what if the effect isn't real? The p-value bounces around. Gather enough data,and the value will, by chance, drop below 0.05. That's when the "scientist" stops collecting data and publishes. A "scientist" can also lower the value by simply cheating in some way that's difficult to detect, like selecting the test group and the control group to emphasize the effect being examined. Or setting data rules after examining the data to eliminate extreme data which point the wrong way.

The Press Conference. This is my surest method: any time a "scientific discovery" is trumpeted in a press conference before it has been through peer review and published, it's fake. Or it's so overblown that reality doesn't match at all. What has happened is that a university PR flunky got his grubby, depraved hands and the discovery is blown all out of proportion, and the poor scientist is dragged along and later has all kinds of cause to regret every starting the work.

The Science Reporter. I've only twice read a news report on a scientific discovery that got it right. Philip Ball wrote them both. All the rest have things wrong, things which tell me they don't understand what was going on. You can safely ignore them. "Science" isn't telling this to you, an English Major is.

Family (false self part 6)

No one has greater ability to help you or to hurt you than your family. They know you, and they shaped you. This makes family a tricky thing for people like me dealing with a dominant False Self. This is because families are the greatest cause of dominant False Selves:

  1. A child grows up in a setting from which a dominant False Self emerges...
  2. ...and marries a spouse who also has a dominant False Self because that's all they know of love...
  3. ...and raise their own children as they were raised...
  4. ...so that the children also experience a dominant False Self.
  5. Goto 1.

This is a cycle, repeating generation-to-generation. Peter Gerkach, a family therapist, put together a huge, deep and all-inclusive website to help families break this cycle, with a lot of great information, and also a lot of noise and a confusing layout.

Alain de Botton also recognized the importance of how a child is raised, in what he calls a Good Childhood and a Bad Childhood (YouTube), and the difficulty, or impossibility, of dealing with our childhoods (YouTube).


Overcoming a dominant False Self, as I am doing, makes dealing with family very tricky. My False Self is very comfortable with family. It's the only Self my family knows. And no one knows me as well as my family. They have all had decades to learn just what to say to induce shame. And I'll tell you, shame is a very effective tool to cause emotional pain, and always causes my False Self to jump into action. Always. Your family may be the same.

And here's the real kick in the crotch: once the False Self is completely dominant and you are socially compliant, you'll think that staying close to your family is your best hope for affection, love, and happiness.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are in this situation, move out! Get away from them, and give your True Self a chance to come out. If you suspect you have a dominant False Self the most important thing you can do is to get out on your own. I honestly don't think that it's possible to bring your True Self to the fore in the presence of the family which caused it to recede to the background as a child.

Just a reminder here, what I'm saying is that your home situation as a child made you protect your feelings (your True Self) by using intellectual justifications and mental excuses (your False Self) to survive; as a child you needed to switch from living with your heart, feeling free to say what you felt, and feeling that you were valued and accepted, to living in your mind in an effort to mute your emotional pain. You need to get to a physical place where you can return to, and practice living with, your heart and feelings again. You need to relearn how to listen to all your feelings, and to relearn how to express exactly what you feel. You need to be surrounded by people who accept you as you are, right now. You must relearn how to stop censoring your feelings.

I'm lucky. I don't have a wife. When I want to get away from family, I can come home. To those who are married, and whose marriage was formed because you both recognized in some unknown way how matched you were to each other (you were equally messed-up) but is now the source of the greatest emotional pain, I hope you can find some way of forgiving each other long enough to remind each other of those times when you felt you could say anything to each other, and accept the other's flaws as endearing. It's a first step to regain the ability to express your True Self, your innermost feelings. Your spouse is the perfect person for that, though each of you has become sidelined by all you learned in your families, and your False Selves have emerged.

Find people who you can talk to and tell them what you are going through. I can't express how very grateful I am for those people at church and work who have listened to all these strange things going on inside my head and heart, who accepted what I said as genuinely me and my experience, and who gave gentle advice while realizing that listening and accepting was their role in the conversation. If it is in your ability, try to be that person to anyone who reveals to you they are not happy. I'm trying to be that person. I can't force anyone to express what they really feel around me, but I can model it, I can express my feelings openly, and let them know I'm not nearly as perfect as they might think I am. All strangers, oddly, appear perfect to us. So I'll try not to be a stranger. It's a tricky thing, though. No one expects acquaintances to open up. No one wants to trust someone who isn't a spouse, or family, with their inner feelings, worries, flaws. But I've found that there is a huge amount of love out there. I've never told someone my problems and not found a sympathetic ear. They might not be well-versed in what you are going through, but they never mock or run away.

So for the first time in my life I can say this and I think I can really mean it: I love you all, and I hope to be your friend.

A Few Notes on Having a False Self (part 5)

I've been thinking about behaviors I displayed which can be attributed uniquely to my having a dominant False Self:

The Illusory Superiority Effect (also known as the Lake Wobegone Effect): This is the self-assessment of how competent you are at a task, or of where you stand in a ranking of your peers. Those who are very competent, or of the highest IQ, for example, tend to underestimate their standing. Those who are woefully incompetent, or who are at the bottom of the standings, tend to vastly over-rate their standing, to the point that those at the very bottom of the standing, who have never once successfully completed the task, rate themselves as above average.

This is difficult to explain without the concept of the False Self. The False Self if there to protect the True Self from pain. Well, it's painful to realize that you suck. It's also difficult to believe that you are the best in your group when your False Self has been there from infancy helping assuage the feeling that you have no value. Of as Freudians put it, the ego protects the id, the brain protects the heart.

"Fine." The second thing I want to talk about is, in some cultures, mostly those where everyone is expected to be "good," this damnable thing we all have of answering "Fine," when asked how we are. This much I know: it's never true. Ever. "Fine" is not a state of human existence. It's not even a feeling. It's probably a False Self trying to hide our feelings. Even if we are happy, elated, full of joy, we are still going to answer, "Fine," for fear of offending the other person, who may not at that moment feel good.

What I will try to do, is when I meet someone I care about, to try to engage them in a conversation, so that I can listen to what they are really feeling, beyond what they are saying. I'll use "Fine" as a marker word: when someone says they are fine, it's time to really dig into how they are feeling, because they just lied to me about how they feel, and it takes care and concern and effort to let them know I love them and want to share the pain they feel, and can understand what they are going through, and that I am trustworthy and won't use their hurt to hurt them back.

And sometimes people I care about say "Fine" because they don't know how great I am, and are trying to protect what they feel are my fragile feelings, and I need to let them know that, too. 

So if you are a person at school, or church, or the street passing me as I walk, if you say you are "Fine," expect a long conversation to follow.

Do I Have a False Self? (part 3)

I never encountered the concept of the False Self while my False Self was still in control. I have no idea how I would take this list if I had seen it two years ago, or even a year ago. So I have no idea how you might take this list. I hope you can see what it can tell you. But I know that False Selves are there to protect your heart, and they know how to fight back against anything which will hurt the heart. I hope you don't fight, be on the side of your True Self.


This is edited and augmented from a deep and confusing website on curing the cyclic patterns of parents with False Self producing kids with False Selves, but it's a good list:

Common True Self Behavioral Traits Common False Self Behavioral Traits

__ Alert, awake, aware

__ Generally "up" and "light," (mood)

__ Usually realistically optimistic

__ Focused, clear, and centered

__ Compassionate, kind, forgiving

__ Firm, strong, confidant, purposeful

__ Calm, serene, peaceful

__ Has a feeling of love when thinking of themselves as they are

__ Usually has a wide-angle, long-range focus - accepts delayed gratification

__ Balances long and short-term payoffs

__ Usually patient, persistent, committed

__ Appreciative, grateful, "glass half-full"

__ Empathic, sensitive, genuinely respectful

__ Spiritually open, aware, "connected," receptive, growing

__ Consistently self-nurturing without egotism

__ Genuine, honest, open, direct

__ Respectfully assertive

__ Socially engaged and active

__ Physically healthy: balanced diet, exercise, work and rest; gets preventive checkups

__ Spontaneously expressive of all emotions real-time, without major anxiety or guilt

__ Able to form genuine bonds with others

__ Able to judge who to dis/trust with what

__ Realistically self-responsible

__ Usually realistic about life and situations

__ Spontaneously able to exchange love

__ Comfortable receiving merited praise

__ Often able to forgive self and others

__ Usually feels lovable just as they are

__ Frequently maintains a two-person "awareness bubble"

__ Seldom gives double messages

__ Able to grieve losses spontaneously

__ Seeks Self-guided people and high-nurturance settings

__ Evolving and living a clear life purpose

__ Work, play, and rest are generally balanced

__ Fuzzy, distracted, confused, numb

__ Often "heavy," "down," gloomy, manic

__ Usually pessimistic or idealistic

__ Confused, vague, unable to stay focused

__ Blaming, critical, bigoted

__ Indecisive, worried, cautious, doubtful

__ "Upset," scared, angry, guilty, ashamed

__ Is given to self-agrandizing daydreams

__ Usually has a narrow, short-term focus

__ Usually seeks immediate gratification

__ Often impatient, impulsive, uncommitted

__ Bitter, jealous, resentful, "glass half empty"

__ Selfish, arrogant, disrespectful

__ Spiritually unaware, skeptical, closed, scornful, or uninterested

__ Consistently self-neglectful

__ Dishonest, indirect, sly, controlling

__ Timid and apologetic, or aggressive

__ Isolated or compulsively social

__ Physically unhealthy; relies on prescribed drugs or self-medication

__ Anxious, guilty, or blocked about feeling and/or expressing some or all emotions

__ Difficulty forming true (vs. pseudo) bonds

__ Difficulty discerning who to trust with what

__ Notably over- or under-responsible

__ Frequent distortions and denials

__ Difficulty giving and/or receiving real love

__ Uncomfortable receiving merited praise

__ Difficulty forgiving self and/or others

__ Usually feels the need to improve to be loved

__ Often focuses only on her/himself or a conversational partner - 1-person "bubble"

__ Often gives double messages

__ Difficulty grieving on one to three levels

__ Unconsciously prefers wounded people and low-nurturance settings

__ Unclear on or indifferent to a life purpose

__ Work, play, and rest are often unbalanced

This is not a list to grade, and you can't get a score from it. These are personality-trait pairs from which you can make a comparison.

You might also notice that many of these traits are being addressed by other ideas. For example, they are addressed by the idea of the Nice Guy Syndrome. They are central to the Branden's method of building self esteem. These are universal aspects of humanity, and all self-help guides will deal with them. I post these here because it's the only one that helped me access what my heart wanted, my True Self. Others worked, but it was always my False Self in control, trying to modify how it protected my heart. For me they were stepping stones to the True Self, but only by realizing the role of the False Self was I able to live.