11.) KP: You used the term “selfing” a few times. I’m familiar with this, but I think it would be great if you could describe what you mean?
Janice: That’s a huge one. Andrew Olendzki, a Buddhist scholar and psychotherapist, often uses this term. By “selfing,” we’re not talking about Western psychological theory regarding the development of the self. Selfing is the analytical part of the mind that is trying to figure oneself out, that is taking everything so personally and seriously.
KP: Olendzki has talked about how “self” is more of a verb than a noun; that it’s a process that is continually changing, versus something fixed, like “my gender,” “my ethnicity,” “my profession,” etc. We all can get so caught up in those places of identity.
Janice: I’ve played with this so much in my own life. For me, “selfing” is when I do this self-referencing, where I ask myself questions like “what am I supposed to be doing?” or “how should I do this or that?” It has this strong “self” part to it, something very personal. And, I find that those are often the times when I suffer the most, when I feel most stressed. And, then it dawned on me – that is what selfing is! Then I notice how much I’m enjoying myself when I’m not in that “selfing” place.
Buddha talked about non-self and self. It’s a big question of what it really means. I had this discussion recently about whether your “Buddha nature” is something you’re trying to uncover, that was once there but has gotten over grown with suffering, or is it a part of yourself that is not known yet. One theory is that it’s always present if you stop selfing, and another is that it’s something that you don’t know about yet. For me, I think it’s both, in my simple-minded understanding.
KP: I noticed when you were describing that, you used the word “should” a lot and that makes me think of how I often tell clients to get rid of that word from their vocabulary because it’s so limiting, as it reinforces this place of looking to the external for how they “should” act or be rather than connecting with what’s inside, what’s authentic.