First I was telling you about my conflicts with My Brain, and then I started telling you about my battles with My Body. So at this point, you may be wondering . . . exactly what am I referring to when I talk about Me?
In a strictly scientific sense, Me is the combined function of My Brain and My Body (and I guess really just the Function of My Body since My Brain is obviously a piece of that). But let’s say, hypothetically, that next week I suffer a moderately severe head trauma, and have a major personality change as a result . . .
That new personality would still technically have My Body and My (slightly damaged) Brain, but would not, strictly speaking, be the same Me who is writing this today. In less obvious terms, Me now is not the same person as Me twenty, or ten, or even two years ago; this is why we have expressions like “that just isn’t me anymore” when we move on from the hobbies and interests that once defined us.
But that still isn’t quite what I’m talking about. After all, anything I’m currently doing or thinking would theoretically be the current Me, and yet I frequently find myself in opposition to the things I’m doing and thinking. When I talk about Me in these posts, I am referring not quite to me as I actually am, but to me as I strive to be.
People often say that something is more than the sum of its parts (or maybe we could say less than if some of those parts are undesirable). In my case, I guess I’d say that I’m not exactly more than or less than the sum of my parts, but different from it.
My Brain, when I’m fighting against it, is the part of me that continues to do things the way I’ve always done them — not necessarily because it actively wants to, but simply because it’s following a routine or a habit, because it’s easier to travel a well-worn path. It’s also the part of my brain that refuses to focus on the things that I need to be thinking about, and refuses to ignore the things that I’d rather not be thinking about.
Likewise, My Body is aches and pains and recurring injuries. It’s the physical limitations that hold me back. It’s the lack of those physical skills and strengths that I’ve lost by not practicing them, and it’s the athletic potential that I don’t reach. It’s the fact that I still can’t fit back into my favourite shorts.
Me is my conscious mind, the part of me that knows what I want to be doing, even as I struggle, and often fail, to do it. Me is who wants to stretch, and eat salads, and be more productive, and Me is who fights against the habits and routines that get in the way of doing those things. Me is who I want to be and what I want to be doing, and the parts of my brain and body that cooperate and facilitate that.
And even though I may classify the parts of my brain and my body that aren’t cooperating as not Me, I know that they are still mine. I can’t get rid of them; but I can work to improve them. I can use mindfulness techniques to help me break habits, and gradually reprogram My Brain to help rather than hinder me. I can exercise and eat right to make My Body stronger and healthier.
I can work to make the sum of My Brain and My Body more closely equal to Me.