So how do we deal with and manage change? My own feeling is that we need to turn to the one thing which is constant in a changing world, which is ourselves. I appreciate that this probably seems like a bonkers thing to say, given that I’ve spent the best part of the last month banging on about all the ways we ourselves change, willingly or unwillingly, in response to all sorts of circumstances, but I still think it’s true, and here’s why. What it really comes down to is, how do we define “ourselves”?
Most of us think of ourselves as the conscious part of us, the bit that ostensibly makes the decisions, the mahout on top of the elephant, if you like. We generally accept that we also have a physical self which, for all its importance and influence, is not “us”, and we mostly acknowledge that we have a subconscious, an id, an elephant, call it what you will.
We accept that those varied selves have different aspects, generally “good” and “bad”, hence all the references to “our better selves”, Jeckyll and Hyde, ourselves as monsters, and so on. Weirdly, we usually seem to identify much more with the “good” rather than the bad. Along with the monstrous bad part of us, we also have the “naughty” part of us, the bit which wants to go out and play, which is easily distracted and impulsive and disruptive, which I’ve already referred to as the monkey mind.
We have dream selves, where “we” move within mysterious and often terrifying landscapes amongst other beings which don’t feel like “us”, but clearly are, since they are created by our sleeping selves. We have thoughts and emotions which originate or are felt within our brains but our brain is not “us”, and neither are our thoughts and emotions, however much they might influence us.