“The false self consists of all of the efforts we make to nurture a reputation for ourselves in the mind of others. In our culture, we have a compulsive need to be validated by external sources. But the true self is one that is wholly separate from this fragile image that we try to construct in the imagination of others.
The true self is like a very shy wild animal that never appears at all whenever an alien presence is at hand, and comes out only when all is peaceful, when he is untroubled and alone. He cannot be lured by anyone or anything, because he responds to no lure except that of the divine freedom.”
Source: Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation