Many of us spend half of our lives living the life we were told to and the other half learning how to let that go and become who we really are. To create a fulfilling life, we need to understand who we are, how to get what we need, and what gets in the way of that process. Birthing the self means bringing that authentic self into being.
The physical birth process is an apt analogy for this spiritual undertaking. Literal conception includes the question, “Who is this being inside of me?” Birthing the self starts with conception; a whisper of, “Who am I, really?” The mystery of gestation unfolds. Something is alive. The inquiry develops on its own timeline. The knowledge that mother and child are part of a divine dance grows. Labor pains lie ahead. The pregnant woman must trust the process enough to let go of any control she would like to have. She can choose to trust enough to explore the unknown.
The authentic self must be reborn from time to time. It involves letting go of beliefs that no longer work and relinquishing definitions of self that we took on from our parents and culture. During childbirth, a woman faces the fear of not knowing who is growing within her, of losing control and of making a fool of herself. Yet, when her labor is done, she embraces a new life. During psychic birth, similar fears naturally arise. Cultivating compassion for the self and for what arises in this psychic rebirthing process is one of the most important skills to learn.
To birth the self, rules originally taken for granted must be revisited. I once believed thatI needed to work hard, suffer and struggle, to get to heaven. My psychic rebirthing involved asking myself if I could come up with other options that could get me there just as well. Could I get there just as easily by enjoying myself? Whose rule was it that I had to struggle, anyway?
I am a mother, a wife, a healer, a business owner. When I started questioning the belief that struggle is necessary for meaningful achievement, these different personal identities, along with many others, entered a vigorous internal conversation. When we contemplate shifting our personal belief set, all the parts of us who had been part of establishing the original belief, (in this case I must struggle to get to heaven), arise with voices that question our deviation from the old belief. We have not built our beliefs in a vacuum. These internal “voices” for and against change have grown in us over time as a response to the situations of our lives, and the discussion often resembles a large and complex take-over negotiation. “Old” voices must be met with compassion and be convinced that the change will not produce suffering or self-harm.
Consensus in the outer world can be difficult to come by. This is true for the inner realm as well. This chaos of creation cannot be sidestepped. There is no way to create new life without gestation, and this gestation is not always orderly.
Such chaos is necessary. Before the authentic self can be born, there must be a stage during which we consciously explore our different, conflicting, questioning aspects. To discover what my authentic self has to say about getting to heaven, I have to ask all my other “selves” about it first. As cells and tissue in the womb-bound embryo differentiate to take on specialized functions, I need to know who says and does what in my psyche. Many of us are familiar with this type of inner dialogue. Terminologies in our western culture include ‘coming from my child’ or ‘speaking from the rational part of me’.
Psychotherapy, intuitive counseling and spiritual mentors can assist in this psychic differentiation. We can also deepen self inquiry and identification of our different internal voices through oracular tools like astrology. My birth sign, my moon, and my rising sign can be interpreted as different aspects of my psyche. All this work helps prepare space for the self that speaks with the soul’s voice. This voice is the authentic voice. It waits to emerge from the center of our many aspects when it knows we can recognize it for what it is.
Many popular mystics suggest that we consider spending more time in the present moment because keeping all of our unconscious identifications to a minimum helps us sense who we truly are. And while exploring the present moment is always fruitful, who we truly are is likely being “held hostage” by a number of internal beliefs and voices that block the view to our authentic inner horizons. This inner exploration and dialogue prepares us for the full panorama of the present moment; not in opposition to the aspects of self, but standing with them in creative collaboration.
It is my personal experience that the birthing of the self is the natural urge of the soul incarnated in this body. When I am most fully aware in my world, this is my central pursuit. Mostly, life just happens. Illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or a divorce can be very destabilizing, but these traumatic events in life instigate creative internal dynamics that we may have trouble seeing through to get a glimpse of our true selves.
Recently a twenty- year-old Asian woman came to see me for an intuitive counseling session wanting relief from the unexplained depression and apathy she had been feeling for the past five years. She told me that she was the last chance for her family’s hopes of producing this generation’s preferred professional; a western medicine doctor. Through our exploration she uncovered that in her desire to respect her parents’ wishes she had been shutting down her own inner voices which weren’t drawn to a career in western medicine. This repression of her authentic self left her feeling apathetic and depressed much of the time.
Difficulties like hers can be a divine opportunity to explore becoming more authentic. If we can allow ourselves to release or reshape an old identity, we can create an entirely new window for the authentic self to shine through.
Joyous events create the same dynamic. The birth of a child, marriage, or extra money invites us to inquire how these major changes in our lives affect the way we walk through our world via our beliefs or identifications. Shifting from one chapter of our lives to another, or including a new identification, (like wife or mother or living in a new tax bracket), brings a sweet opportunity to see that we are now something different; something more.
When we choose to explore landscape of our interior, to listen for the question “Who am I?”, we hear the whisper of our best friend, our beloved, our divine self. The birthing of the self comes from personal intimacy with this divinity. And, though often-times painful, the realization of the self brings huge possibilities for expansion and joy in all aspects of life. What better reason than that to consider birthing it?