While studying to become a certified Core Energetics Therapist, I was introduced to an insightful model that explained the three layers that make up our personalities. The concept delved beyond what we might think of as the good and bad parts of ourselves. This model provides a way to look beneath the surface and explore our motives and the factors that influence our behaviors – especially the negative, self-destructive ones.

The three layers are the Mask Self, the Lower Self and the Higher Self. If you picture a sphere, the mask is the outer layer, the Lower Self is the middle layer, and as odd as it might seem, the Higher Self is buried underneath the other two at the center. Your higher self is your true self.

The Mask Self — that top, outer personality layer has conformed to conditioning. Your Mask is constructed by the beliefs and behaviors you’ve adopted to fit in, to be socially appropriate and to avoid punishment. Your Mask is your public persona, the aspect most familiar to you and others. It is what you identify with most closely and readily. Most of us believe the Mask Self is our true self. Yet, it isn’t. The Mask, yours and mine, is comprised of deeply ingrained behaviors that we learned to rely on for survival. It is the sense of you’ll fight for and defend. But your Mask – your sense of identify that is personality based – isn’t the real you.

The Lower Self – which is the middle layer – is forged by the threats we’ve perceived since we were in our mothers’ wombs. Loud noises, painful life experiences, torturous relationships, all damage our emotions and can lead to self-sabotage or acting out in self-destructive ways. The actual incidents may have long been forgotten, but they still influence how you react to the world. Within the Lower Self are the roots of fear, skepticism, mistrust, hatred – of others and self – and a host of behaviors we may view as dishonorable or shameful.

Finally, the Higher Self is who you are at your core. This is the real you. It is limitless, pure and loving – when it’s not being smothered by the Mask and Lower Self. The Higher Self is kind, respectful, compassionate, peaceful, joyful and wise. Your unique talents, gifts, passions, purpose and potential reside here – in your Core. When you are at your best, you are expressing our Higher Self.

How do you know you’re tapping into your Higher Self? When what you’re doing is productive and it boosts your energy level. When what you’re doing is positive and constructive – it serves you and others. When you are so profitably engaged that you get lost in what you’re doing and lose all track of time.

Living from your core requires self-love – which is the hardest love to give. Most of us are fairly competent at self-protection, self-defense, self-sabotage, self-criticism and self-denial. Fewer of us know how to love our Self. We prefer the Mask with which we’re comfortable – the mask that projects the “right” image and denies the existence of the toxic lower self. Unconsciously and unfortunately, our mask also denies our truest identity, the truly powerful person we are at our Core.

Do the challenging and transformative work of learning more about your Mask, Lower Self and Higher Self. You can do this at any of the programs offered by The Institute of Core Energetics, based in New York City. This is sure to be an investment you’ll be very glad you made. For me, it has turned out to be one of the best investments of my life.

Begin your Core Energetics transformation at one of three retreats in Philadelphia, NYC and Washington, DC.


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