Of Our Sense of Self

Of Our Sense of Self

So I saw the movie Glass this past Saturday and, needless to say, I was shocked, floored. I was impacted. And I was obviously inspired because after the movie I went to Barnes & Noble next door and started walking around looking at things, and the ideas started flowing. I even wrote a poem. I was very much feeling the connection to art. I then started reflecting on the film itself and I was really attracted to the psychological aspects of it, the psychologically thrilling aspects of it, and this kind of battle between what we believe about ourselves versus what others believe about us or want us to think they believe about us. So the question needs to be asked: What matters more? I know the answer we all want to give is that what matters more is what we believe about ourselves, what we think of ourselves and what we say to ourselves. And I would have to agree. However, there’s something to be said about the power of influence another person can have on us. Whether it be a parent, a child, another relative, a significant other, or a doctor, we give importance to what other people say, whether we realize it or not, especially when they have a particular relationship to us or have certain credentials. In his book, Divine Karma, David Ramirez discusses this phenomenon and why it happens, but also the importance of how we must not believe something just because someone we commend says it. We must question everything.

When having a conversation, somebody may say something about us, may give make a judgment, and we immediately dismiss it because it doesn’t trigger anything, it doesn’t point at something we’ve ever thought about ourselves. But, every now and then, whether out of intention, accident, or some other supernatural force, somebody will say something to us and it will trigger something, it will bring up a doubt. In this film, in particular, it was a superhero complex that the main characters in the film were grappling with, one that the doctor was there to convince them of being a “delusion of grandeur.” Now what I found most fascinating was the lengths at which this doctor went to show them that they were suffering from a delusion, they way she used rational thought to “prove” they were delusional.

Again, sometimes people trigger us and illuminate a doubt we’ve had, but other times they illuminate a doubt in us we didn’t even think we had but the presentation of information they offer is so “logical” and powerful that is makes us question the nature of our existence. Which is exactly what happened in the movie. It was at that part in the movie that I started to question my own existence, it was so beautifully written and articulated. But the important part that I want to highlight here was that these individuals were absolutely convinced they were not delusional, but, because of the nature of the reality of the world we live in and that it was a doctor telling them, you could see in some of their eyes and some of their facial expressions that something was shifting within them. I got the impression that they reached a breaking point and were affected, considering the idea that maybe there was another explanation and reason they had these powers. A lot of times we will have unique gifts, we will have thoughts, that we may or may not know the exact purpose of, but because others don’t accept them we find ourselves wondering if there’s something wrong, we dis-empower ourselves. We find ourselves susceptible and vulnerable to falling under the influence of someone that has “more credibility” than us and allowing them to explain our gifts away so that we better fit a particular standard. And I think that’s because we, at least a majority of us, want to connect with others. We think we want to stand out until we stand out and are ostracized. There are the few that are brave enough to continue, but many will allow this image of a professional or a respected person to convince them otherwise. And it’s part of that desire for belonging, that not wanting to step out of line for fear of what that may mean or what may happen because of it.

Yes, there are those “rebels.” Yes, there are those who have a strong sense of self. But I think there’s something to be said about the nature of human existence, the fact that the conventions we’ve created in this society, and the beliefs we’ve created about them, can affect the way we think about ourselves regardless of how strong that sense of self is. So, yes, believing in ourselves is the simple answer, it’s what we know to be true, but it may not always be that easy. We have to persevere and analyze all the things we think about ourselves. We have to trust ourselves. And, if we do concern ourselves with what others think of us for whatever reason, be it professionally, romantically, whatever the case may be, out of this desire to be accepted, out of this desire to be validated, we must ask ourselves, “Why does it matter?”

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