Letters To Seneca – Letter 24

Dear Seneca,

Have you heard of the “manufactured self”?

It’s an interesting concept I’ve come across while reading a book called “Atmamun“. In this book, the author shares this concept.

The “you” that you think you are is likely wrong and not “you”. When we’re born we’re given a name and then begin to build the manufactured self through identifying with different behaviors, activities, etc. I’ll use myself as an example.

The manufactured self I identify with has been built through social and self-identification. I think of myself as an intellectual, a reader, a fitness fan, a space fan, a technology advocate, a logical thinker, rational with my emotions, and the list goes on. But… According to the author, this is a facade I’ve built over the years.

When someone attempts to tear down this manufactured self through harmful words or actions, I retaliate to protect this facade. I spend every waking minute of my day ensuring that this facade is strong and continues to stand throughout all the external interactions I run into throughout my days.

My next question is… If I’m not the manufactured self, then what am I? The author states that we’re the experiencer, the one that’s experiencing the world around us. But the trick is not to identify or place judgment on the experience but to simply be present.

This all sounds a bit too woo-woo, I know.

Here’s a practical use I’ve found from understanding this concept. In moments when my mind or manufactured self kicks into gear, trying to maintain the facade I’ve begun to question what’s being protected either in the moment or afterwards. By simple observations and questions the internal chaos has calmed down a bit and that for me is worth it.