Inner Space
Hi, I’m Diana Demco and this is the Inner Space newsletter about my reflections on living an examined life. If you're new, you can find old editions here. You're getting this email because you signed up on my website. If you'd like to unsubscribe, click here.
The self-help evangelists are always eager to preach about the person you need to become. Based on the philosophy of "guru" in question, this may include being more skilled, wealthier, more resilient or simply, the catch-all concept of "the best version of yourself." Countless books, seminars and courses are based on selling you a new identity.

Also, I've come across this weird advice for why you should "disappear" for a while (usually 6 months to a year) in order to "work on yourself" so that you become "unrecognizable" to those who knew you. If anything, this complete-life-overhaul culture in self-help circles is encouraging a sort of escapism and radical change that sows damaging ideas about what it means to change and develop healthfully as a human.

Usually, the self development advice is operating from the assumption of lack. There are certain desirable attributes or skills that you should have (so they say), therefore you need to change your way of living to pursue them.

However, the more I learn and explore myself, the more I realize people need encouragement to be who they already are, because that's way more sustainable and powerful.

But how do you become who you are? Aren't you already that? There's a paradox at play here. If you completely change yourself in 6 months and become "unrecognizable," are you still the same person as before? How can you undergo identity change but still preserve your sense of self? These kinds of questions have been asked by philosophers and psychologists for decades.

In my view, to become who you are you first need to recognize and deeply accept who you are. As Jung so often urged us, we need to integrate our shadow into our self, to bring it to light and embrace it, as we would an estranged relative.

Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. (Carl Jung)

As much as transformation is a process of integration, it's equally a process of discarding aspects of ourselves that are standing in the way of our real self. Akin to a caterpillar, we can emerge from our cocoon and reveal our true colors, without a need to transform into something else, but simply by developing what was already there.

Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. (Erich Fromm)

I don't believe in a predetermined fate written for us by the gods, but somehow I get the inkling that we all possess the seeds that can develop into an authentic expression of ourselves, if we nurture them. Becoming is a matter of allowing what's already present to blossom.

Be who you are, then you'll become it.

Timeless Content

Spark Creativity with Thomas Edison’s Napping Technique
Bret Stetka | 6 minute read
Are you familiar with the hypnagogic state? If you're working in a creative field (or are constantly baffled by complex problems) and haven't heard of it, you may be missing out.

Studies indicate that the liminal state between wakefulness and sleep is conducive to insights and creativity. The way we can access that phase is by going to sleep with an object in our hand and waiting for it to drop, which will indicate that we were about to enter deep sleep, but then wake up because of the sound. Chances are your brain was coming up with novel solutions and ideas during that time, and you can now apply them to your needs, instead of letting them vanish into the darkest corners of your brain.

This technique was employed by great minds such as Salvador Dalí and Albert Einstein, who reportedly took advantage of that state to invite insights into their work. The article linked above explores how research was done in this area.

Picture of the Week

Source: @ossomagazine

Quote I'm Reflecting On

Oscar Wilde on the influence others have on us:

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

Question For You To Ponder

How can I embody more of what I already am?
Thank you for reading.

Until next time,
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