Fluid And Not Fixed: How Your Sense Of Self Comes To Be
Updated: Sep 2
In her highly praised book, Paris-based philosopher, Gloria Origgi (2018) claims that human behavior, to the extent that it is entrenched in social interaction, is always plagued by the tension between being and seeming, the opposition between your private self (what you show to in intimate moments) and your public self (what you show to the world). She argues that this dynamic is evident in the Italian phrase “Ci sei o ci fai?” which translates more or less into “Are you really what you are pretending to be or are you just faking it?” (p. 16)
The point is that the beginning of one self (private) and the start of another (public) is difficult to detect, to know, and to verify. This ambiguity speaks to the fluidity of identity and the way you fashion selfhood in relationships with others to: 1) define who you are in the world and 2) know yourself as a person. In this sense, you are asking two, basic questions, “Who am I?” and “What does it mean, for me, to be a person?”
For Carl Rogers (1995), the father of humanistic psychology, the answer to these profound questions is clear, “a person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.” (p. 122) Take a moment to remember this important definition as you arrive on the scenes of life, so that the unfolding of “you,” in every significant situation, is fluid and not fixed.
Origgi, G. (2018). Reputation: What it is and why it matters. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Rogers, C. R. (1995). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Note: An earlier version of this adapted content was published in another format, focusing on useful strategies for managing relationships at work, at home, and at play. Feel free to follow Dr. J on Twitter @JRodriguez_PhD (J. Rodriguez, Ph.D.) or visit online at https://www.joserodriguez.solutions/.