St. Theresa of Avila speaks of having received the gift of being able to “dis-identify” herself. This might be characterized by the thinking of and referring to oneself in the third person. The practice of dropping forms of the pronouns “I” and “me” may help us see more clearly the line between the false self and true self. Because of habit, it’s a hard thing to do. We’re so accustomed to using “I” and “me” that to substitute our names , or use “he” or “she” to refer to ourselves is a challenge. But if we do, even if it’s only mentally, it will make clearer the complexity of the self we’ve created and the simplicity of the self that is our spirit.
When referring to oneself the difference between saying, “I need a vacation” and “Joe needs a vacation” becomes a marker of the way I see myself. Any criticisms or judgments of Joe become far more objective than those of “I.” To see this difference and be aware of it can lead us to reflect on the truer self of our spirit and how far it often lies from the machinations and facades of the “I” we construct. It’s sad but true that we so seldom really think about our true selves. Our false selves so powerfully rule us that we come to consider it our only self.
The thoughts we apply to the presentation to others of our persona center on the self we have made for ourselves; and the true self is buried somewhere beneath that. When we refer to ourselves in the third person – that is, “dis-identify” ourselves – we operate closer to the position of the true self. We at least attempt to perceive as extraneous all that we’ve used to build our selves. The necessary change in thought and speech patterns does not flow naturally, especially when spoken aloud. But with a willfully concerted effort, at least for short periods of time, we might occasionally be able to do it mentally. Such an exercise might move us a little closer to understanding the difference between the false self and the true self.