Proof of Self
The concept of the Concentric Circles of Responsibility is the first proof for the existence of the Self that I will present. It goes further in detailing my theory of the 3 stages of human development.
As briefly stated in the first Chapter, in my theory of human development I posit three stages of development, overlapping, but distinct. All three developmental parts of a human being, 1) body, 2) mind, 3) self, start their development at birth. They develop to their full potential in three different stages during a single life span.
The first stage is that of the development of the body and it takes place from birth to around 15 -20 years of age. It is visible, we can see a human being grow, and therefore it is easy to accept this as a stage of development. This stage is characterized by the human being having what I call a ‘body centered’ perspective on life. The self, as we have discussed in other parts of the theory, is fully identified with its body, and the needs of its body. So the driving forces of development at this stage are – what is there to eat, what can I do for play, who can I play with, I’m tired and want to rest, what is there to wear, is there a pimple on my nose, how do I look, who is interested in me and visa versa, etc. The predominant preoccupation is to look at the world and see how it can address the needs and wants of one’s body. This is what I call the ‘body centered’ point of view. We are all familiar with a teenager’s room looking like a tornado went through it – a disaster area. Food being eaten from the refrigerator – the last glass of milk/ juice, the last slice of bread, the last piece of fruit, last bowl of cereal – all are consumed without ever bothering to mention it to the other members of the family, allowing them to discover it to their own vexation. Wearing the last clean piece of clothing without bothering to do a wash, expecting someone else to do it for them, dumping clean clothing on the floor, is common behavior.
In summary this first stage is the ‘body centered’ stage of responsibility. Responsibility seems to extend no further outward than the person’s body. Any exceptions to this are the result of strict training, clear consequences, or rare empathy for those around them. The second stage is that of the mind, and it takes place during the next 20 or so years, for simplicities sake, from 20-40ish. This stage is characterized by the human being having what I call a ‘mind centered’ perspective on life. The self, again as we have discussed in other parts of the theory, is now identifying with its mind, and the needs of its mind, as well as that of its body. While issues of food, looks, relationships, are still important, the driving forces of development at this stage are concepts. The person at this stage of life becomes very interested in arguing as many conceptual points as possible, flexing their mental muscles. Concepts like the existence of God, political parties, capitalism vs. socialism, idealistic positions relating to poverty-corruption- racism-gender, all become much more important. This leads to the enlargement of the circle of responsibility to include the idea of being responsible for one’s room or apartment, for a job/ career/money, for a car, the concept of having one’s own family and being responsible for it, for community, a choice of political parties and activism, of religious participation, etc.
This is the second stage, what I call ‘mind centered’, conceptual perspective on the world, with a clearer understanding of the consequences of one’s choices and actions..
The concentric circles of responsibility have expanded outward from including only the body, which is what self identified with initially, to now include concepts, as the self begins to use its mind to interact with the world.
I, perhaps like many others who work with the public in a counseling or healing capacity, am all too familiar with what has been observed at around the age of 40. The explanations for the crisis that seems to occur for so many people at this stage of life like; mid-life crisis, the empty nest syndrome, fear of death, loss of youth, all fail to explain in a viable theory why these phenomena occur.
I believe that these behaviors coincide perfectly with the third stage of development, from about 40 onward, which is potentially the start of the full development of the Self. “The logic of social norms and expectations, though distinctively human, characterize an impersonal, hyper-socialized individual, a “social animal,” which corresponds to the conformist path of personality development, Maddi (1971). But because “human beings are “social animals,” and follow the conformist path of personality development, they never experience Free Choice. Without Free Choice the possibility of authenticity, and thereby happiness, is nil.” (my addition)
No wonder the Self has an identity crisis. It doesn’t know itself, doesn’t know its true needs, doesn’t know how to express itself effectively and compassionately, and certainly doesn’t know how to love unconditionally. It doesn’t even know it exists, in an existential sense. It thinks it is just body and mind, and behaves strictly in socially learned ways.
At around the age of 40, Madonna stopped grabbing herself and enrolled into studying the Kaballah. If we take a close look around we can see its pervasive nature. Whether it is celebrities who are in crisis or going through change or whether it is our friends and family members. People who have been married 15-20 years, individuals whose bodies and minds have been fully developed, are successful, and by all of our standards should be leading happy lives. However in reality many are unhappy, dissatisfied with their careers, marriage, and themselves. Based on the present body-mind theory of human development, if all we are is a body and mind, and we fully develop both, this should never happen. There must be another part to a human being that is responding to the painful facts of his or her life. And this other part, I believe to be the Self. The Self is now ready for its full development, in the third stage of human development. For most it never happens. It never gets to know itself or develop fully. The seeking for happiness, the seeking for answers, the newfound spirituality, does not come with a handbook, as they should and can, which my theory is able to provide.
Even though present developmental theories do not acknowledge it as a stage at all, what is most interesting about this 3rd stage is what happens within the concentric circles of responsibility that proves that this stage does exists. In this 3rd stage the self senses other selves, senses the love, the pain, the need. This happens because in this stage one becomes more aware of one’s self being connected to other selves. At this stage of life people seem to naturally gravitate to a more inclusive, more compassionate view of the world. I believe because of the natural development of Self generally people become more philanthropic. It is not because they have more money and less expenditure, because if they were selfish and greedy and disliked others, they would not give. This third stage of human development is characterized by a developed self taking responsibility for it all - for humanity, for the Earth, for the future. **********
In this stage we take responsibility for it all, having our own beliefs concerning how the best can be brought forth. Discussions have not occurred and must occur about what changes need to be made in our scientific thinking about self. Knowledge about the self must be sensible, effortless, and effectual. My theory does that. The big perspectives that I will present now are: This first proof begins the process of using logic and reasoning which I used to build my case for the existence of Self as real. As we move from stage to stage in the developmental process, from the body to the mind to the Self, we can observe a human being moving to an ever expanding circle of being able and willing to be responsible. We see the movement from being responsible for one’s body only, to being responsible for mental concepts like family, job, home, to finally being responsible for all of humanity. Each of these expanding circles of responsibility requires the full development of each part of a human being. If we didn’t observe the third concentric circle of responsibility then we would not be able to point to another part, other then body and mind. Because humans go through the developmental stages of body and mind, the self reaches the stage where it is able to develop fully. This proves that the self exists because if self did not exist it would not be able to be fully aware of itself and not be able to connect with other selves.