The false self is a psychological ploy that occurs in the mind to help us manage the fears and insecurities we experience. The false self gets its start early in life by receiving in-coming information from the still developing five senses. The young mind evaluates the data and makes a judgment about the situation. Is this good or bad? Am I loved or not loved? Am I safe or not safe?
Over time the child develops habits of thought and behavior as protection from worry and fears. Gradually the mind creates more and more thoughts and behaviors that support the false self. As life goes on, the false self-identity becomes very real.
Another way to describe the false self is through the work of Dr. Stephen Karpman who first named the three roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer that make up the Drama Triangle (we call this the Dreaded Drama Triangle or DDT™). We all play these roles as our false self, attempting to manage our fears and anxieties. The power of naming the roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer is in the ability to step back and observe the false self in action.
The Victim, as an aspect of the false self and a strategy to manage fears, decides they won’t get what they want in life and feels powerless. The Persecutor decides the way to feel safe is through control by criticizing or putting down others. The Rescuer wants to make others happy, in hopes they will get love in return. These three roles of the DDT™ originate from the false self.
Once able to observe the false self in the DDT™ roles, the true self, rooted in TED* (*The Empowering Dynamic)™ has a fighting chance to emerge through the roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach. Now our true self can ask:
Do I need to give up responsibility for my response to any situation and act like a victim? Do I need to persecute and tear down others in order to feel safe? Do I need to jump in and rescue others when it’s not my job or role?
The false self, masquerading as the DDT™ roles, is a master at tricking us. It is both a barrier and a bridge to a more empowering way to live if we understand its dishonest attempt at helping us feel safe. We can liberate ourselves and grow beyond the false self, much like we grow from a teenager into adulthood, by shifting from the DDT™ to TED* as a way of relating to others, life experience and ourselves.