The Brainy Brunch: What’s your authentic story?
Carl Jung said that “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are” and yet this notion of a true, authentic ‘self’ is being called into question by modern neuroscience. What we think of as ‘me’ is actually just a network of behaviours, memories, sensations that give the sense of wholeness and of permanence but which are constantly in flux. There is no single part of the brain that is associated with an enduring identity – a self that’s in charge.
Why then in our culture are we so obsessed with finding ‘the real me’? Buzzfeed quizzes and horoscopes fly around on social media enticing us with the possibility of greater self-awareness and a stamp of identity that we can share with friends: Oh I’m SUCH a Monica / typical Sagittarian / peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We love to define ourselves, to tell our story, even if it’s pure illusion.
The latest Brainy Brunch covered this fascinating topic asking the question: “What’s your authentic story?” Curated this month by Mark Spokes and Greta Rossi, founders of Ākāśa Innovation (and Hub members!) as part of their 50 Days of Summer crowd funding campaign, we were posed some deep and challenging questions…
What could be a working title that could be used for the biography of your everyday self?
What deep dreams, passions and connections have you neglected to follow or have yet been unable to fulfill?
We watched two TED talks. The first, by Julian Baggini, entitled ‘Is there a real you?’ provoked a sense of liberation in the lack of an enduring self, suggesting instead that we should see ourselves as a process instead of a fixed thing. This allows then for the possibility of constant reinvention. As the Buddha said, “Wise people fashion themselves”.
The second talk was by the wonderful Brene Brown on ‘Listening to shame’. Leading on from her famous TED on vulnerability, Brown talks about shame as “the gremlin that says you’re never good enough”, which prevents us from showing our true, vulnerable selves. Brown says that her research has revealed a shame epidemic in our culture, where men are afraid to be perceived as weak and women of not being able to cope with all of our competing and conflicting expectations. As a result we put up a front to the real us, and this stops us from truly connecting with ourselves and with each other. Modern technology makes this easier than ever before as we photoshop and edit our lives on social media.
Prompted by Greta and Mark, we wrote our most pressing desires and dreams on post-it notes and stuck them to the Hub walls and discussed why we’d been unable to achieve them so far. Exposing our vulnerability really did open up some deep conversations and there was a tangible sense of connection in the room at this Brainy Brunch. Powerful stuff for a Sunday!
Blog by Anna Levy
Photos by Greta Rossi