Both our Higher Self and Lower Self are real.
But only one is in truth.

If something is real, that means it is highly charged, or alive. And since both our Higher Self and our Lower Self are energized by our life force, both can be considered real. The energies of our Higher Self flow in a positive direction. But along the way, the energies of our Lower Self have gotten twisted, or distorted. So our Lower Self temporarily operates in a negative, or opposite, manner, flowing against life.

Since our Higher Self works in alignment with the flow of the universe, it is known for things like harmony, peace, connection, compassion, forgiveness, willingness, wisdom and courage. This is the light-filled part of us that’s in truth. As such, the Higher Self doesn’t need to shout. It quietly sits at the center of our being, patiently waiting for us to wake up and listen to it.

Our Lower Self, on the other hand, is the part of us working in opposition to the light. It’s our shadow self, or darkness. Some classic moves of the Lower Self are resistance, rebellion, destruction, withholding, separation, cruelty, spite and hate. What’s holding all this negativity into place? Untruth. In other words, in the area of our Lower Self, there is ignorance we are not yet aware of.

The origin of ignorance

All children go through painful experiences at some point. Based on these experiences, we draw conclusions about life. Then we go through life using our self-made beliefs about how life works to navigate the seas of life. Our goal? To keep ourselves safe from further pain.

But since we form these understandings using the limited logic of a child, they are always misunderstandings. They seemed true to us at the time. But as children, we have a very narrow view of the world. Which is why the conclusions we drew then are not true in the greater reality.

As we emerge from childhood, our wrong conclusions about life sink into our unconscious. Now our untruths are hidden, even from our own awareness. And there they sit, motivating our Lower Self behavior.

Since Lower Self behaviors are based on buried wrong beliefs, they create real disharmony. Even more problematic, since we are now separated from our own mistaken conclusions, we can’t see how our struggles in life connect with us.

This is why the work of self-healing is all about developing more self-awareness. We must find the faulty understandings inside us and establish more truthful understandings about life.

Covering ourselves up

Because our Lower Self is real, we get a rush from activating its twisted energy when we live from this part of ourselves. But when we activate our life force this way—by acting from our Lower Self—our inner dishonesty goes unchecked. Then conflict and disharmony grow.

Living this way makes it extra hard to sift the truth from untruth outside ourselves. In fact, since untruth is what’s now driving us, we line up behind untruth in the world. For we like the way it excites us. We actually resonate with the low-frequency vibration of untruth.

Of course, we may have figured out by now that people don’t respond well to those who behave badly. So out comes our Mask Self. We call this part a mask because the Lower Self hides behind it. One could say the Lower Self hires the mask to do its dirty work. For unlike our Higher Self, which is always oriented toward connection, the Lower Self serves separation. And the mask does a beautiful job of keeping us separate.

Our mask is made up of our defenses. And, in a nutshell, we use our defenses to demand love and keep ourselves safe from being hurt. In reality, all three defensive strategies—aggression, submission and withdrawal—do nothing but push people away and cause us more pain.

As such, if we are operating from our mask, we are not in truth. For it’s simply not true that our defenses are effective in bringing us love or keeping us safe. Boiling it down, our defenses are really just manipulative strategies designed to control others. This is why we would say our defenses, or Mask Self, are not real.

Finding the True Self

Our first step in self-development must be to dismantle our defenses. We do this by coming to understand our mask, and then using our positive will to change our behavior. Then, and only then, we can we start to slowly transform our Lower Self back to its original truthful nature. This is how we restore ourselves and get more of our life force flowing in positive, feel-good channels.

In the beginning, it may seem we are getting worse, or going backwards. For once we stop operating from our defenses, we will start seeing the real behavior of our Lower Self. Our ego will now need to learn to pay attention to our reactions and begin to unwind our inner distortions.

We must find our mistaken beliefs and reorient our thinking. We must also release our pent-up feelings of old, unfelt pain so warmer emotions can flow. And believe it or not, we’ll need to uncover our negative intention to stay stuck. Then, after we’ve made some progress in clearing away these inner obstacles, we must learn to let go of our ego and begin to live from our Higher Self.

Over time, we will gradually learn to give our best to life and live in harmony. As we grow and mature, life will reflect more and more goodness back to us. Eventually we will find our way through all parts of our Real Self and into the truth of our being.

Then, having found our True Self, we will find we can live in peace.

–Jill Loree

All essays in Get a Better Boat are available as podcasts.