by Jonathan Brakarsh
Most of us are striving to be stronger, smarter, cooler, richer, more beautiful and many other things. When we step out, presenting ourselves to the world as who we would like to be, we are one person and when we lay in our bed, sleepless at night, thinking our private thoughts we are another person.
So, who are we?
In the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, you see a skeleton dancing. And I always wonder when I see that image, what would happen if we stripped ourselves down to our skeleton selves, if we removed all the layers that make up who we think we are? We strip away our gender, and race, and education, and achievements – all the things that puff us up or deflate us, all the things that make us feel that we are more than we are, or less.
Have you had a time in your life when everything that felt important to you was stripped away? That moment when your life was turned upside down? You lose your job, you lose your home, you lose someone you love, you get a medical diagnosis that says you may go blind or die ….
We have an image we want to believe about ourselves and we hold onto that image with all our strength. It takes so much effort to maintain that image. You would think it would be a relief to just let go, but we have a terror of being left with nothing. When we sit with ourselves, totally bare, stripped of everything that has value to us, this is when we discover who we truly are.
We have the opportunity to discover something essential – our True Selves. This is the ground we stand on when the world around us is falling apart.
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Jonathan Brakarsh is an author and psychologist who works with children and adults facing crises in their lives. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Joy, Inc. His most recent book, “Singing to the Lions – a guide to overcoming fear and violence in our lives”, can be downloaded here.
Joy, Inc. is a teaching and media company mainstreaming the research and evidence on human flourishing and positive emotions to transform the culture and build a new generation of Africans focused on the greatest happiness for the greatest many.