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Recognizing the Conditioned Self

Sheila glared at her husband. He glared back. In that moment, they were both deeply identified with the conditioned self. The real self, the one they each fell in love with was hidden behind a veil of triggered charged energy. I quickly looked to Rick and said, “tend to your state.” He knew exactly what that meant. It was really quite something. Within a moment, he was calm, looking at his wife with love and asking her to tell him again what was bothering him. In that moment, he shifted identification from his conditioned self to the real self. This shift empowered him to return to the present with his wife.

The conditioned self can be sneaky and oh so self righteous — full of justifications for its existence. We feel it when we are in a suboptimal state of being or triggered. This idea of being triggered is crucial. For when we are triggered, we are reactive, not responsive. Our reactions don’t fully feel within our control and/or are not congruent with our real self.

Our clients report various challenging life situations that are infused with ideas of how things should be or how they wish they were. Woven through their tales are the pain of unmet needs, unresolved traumas and more. As they begin untangling from the limitations of these narratives, the reactivity of the conditioned self becomes more and more apparent.

Recognizing the conditioned self is one of the most precious gifts we can give our clients. In this recognition, we are advocating for their real self. Imagine what that might be like for you if someone advocated for your REAL self rather than argued with or justified your conditioned self. When we advocate for and support clients in recognizing the conditioned and the real self, we take big steps towards helping them recognize the choice points that inform their life’s journey.

How do you recognize the conditioned self? What difference to you think it would make in your practice if you focused on advocating for your clients’ real self in a conscious way?