False Self vs True Self vs Higher Self: What’s The Difference?


true self vs false self ego


False self, true self, higher self, egoic self, carnal self – you’ve probably seen plenty of posts that have something to do with “self”.  The truth is that it can get confusing.

What do these terms mean? Why does it matter?

At the very basic level if we do away with all labels, we can remove the word “self” from our vocabulary and simply say, “I am.”

I am a spiritual being beyond space and time.

But it’s helpful to use “self” terms when dealing with things like the ego or navigating this planet as humans with a physical body.

What is The Higher Self?

The “higher self” simply means divine essence.  It’s also referred to as spirit, soul, Christ-consciousness, Buddha nature, or true nature.

It’s the most sacred “you” that’s been created and is sustained by God, or Divine Consciousness. And, it’s known by its love and connection with God.

Before I was born on this planet, I was purely spiritual.

My preferred way to refer to my “self” before I was born is SPIRIT.

Here’s the thing for us born on this 3-dimensional planet Earth.  As we grow, we forget who we truly are – our spiritual nature, largely because to navigate life in a world of matter in a bodysuit, evolution has seen fit to help humans out by furnishing them with a psychological mind (psyche) and a physiological brain and nervous system. (biology)


To assure survival in a world made of matter that we can use our senses to explore and experience.

For this article, I’m covering the psychological construct of the psyche.

As babies, we begin creating an “ego self”, also referred to as:

  • False self
  • Carnal nature

Our parents, culture, peers, experiences, etc. condition this false self. This “false” sense of self.  The degree of “falseness” or feeling of separation from spirit self largely depends on just how much trauma you experience in childhood. (Or perhaps past life karma if you believe in reincarnation). A lot of trauma tends to equal a lot of layers (a veil) around your spiritual self.

Using myself as an example, I identified with my “false self” so long, I had no feeling of connection whatsoever with me as spirit or with God.

In my mind, God was a billion miles away, untouchable and “unfeelable” because I was so emotionally shutdown. It wasn’t until my mid-30’s that a traumatic situation jarred my psyche enough to get me interested in doing some digging.

Just like an onion, I had layers of “false beliefs” I had to strip away through psychological and spiritual practice. I had to shed some faulty stories that were leading to some serious inner suffering.

It was then that I really began my journey to rediscover who and what I truly am – a pure, loving, whole, infinite spirit. And it’s not like I have full revelation of the yet…I’m still a wonder in progress.

Even if your upbringing was rather amazing, you’ll have some excavating to do because there’s no such thing as perfect parenting.  Everyone (or I should say every ego) represses what Carl Jung refers to as the “shadow” for the simple sake of survival.  It’s a primal kind of thing.

Are You Stuck Living Life From a Wounded Ego?

Check in with yourself.

Who and what are driving your bodily vehicle?

Wounded, subconscious thoughts or belief systems you acquired through life? (Shadows…Feeling unworthy, depressed, anxious, shame, rage, apathy, etc.)

This is how many people live their whole life – stuck feeling like they are only a wounded ego, separate from their true self as spirit + a loving God {source, energy, consciousness, etc.} who created them. They simply don’t make the effort to get out from under the limiting beliefs and negative stories that were created in their past.

Or they may want to get out from under the suffering, but aren’t sure how or give up too soon.

I heard Carolyn Myss teach a metaphor that has helped me so much. She was talking about spiritual growth and states of consciousness (awakening).  I can’t remember details, but essentially, she talked about a building that had multiple stories.  Let’s say the building is a resort with 9 stories on a small island.

If you were living on the first floor of that resort, your view from your window would be so-so.  You’d see the road, some cars, other buildings, people, etc. But let’s say you were living on the top floor.  Wouldn’t your view be much better? Maybe even spectacular?

Wouldn’t you love getting up each morning, walking out on your porch and seeing the vast ocean in all its glory? Sure, you could still see roads, cars, other buildings, and people, but you’d also be able to take in the whole panoramic view with a wide-angle lens and see the beautiful water and sky.

Living on the first floor is like living life solely identified with ego self.  You’re living, but it’s just alright. Or, it may feel horrible depending on the level of suffering.

Gain Greater Revelation: Change Your Perception Of You + Life

Spiritual growth or awakening is like moving up floors in that resort.  You increase or expand states of consciousness.

You’re becoming aware first, that you have an egoic self that’s not really the “real” you. Second, you learn that your ego (including the shadow-side) has been largely running your show in this dream we call 3D life.

BUT, it also means you’re doing some inner excavating, or inner healing work.

You’re courageously looking within, even if you’re afraid of what you’ll find.

Going Within Can Get You Free

You see, going within is the path toward becoming free, identifying with self as “spirit”, created by and always connected to the Infinite, omnipresent Spirit, or God.

Becoming aware that you are a conscious spirit beyond a sense of self!

But how, you may wonder.

How do we stop identifying with the false self and truly living with this awareness of me as spiritual? How do we go from the first floor to the rooftop?

This is a question religions, traditions, and spirituality have been answering since time immemorial.

It’s a journey and your path is uniquely yours.  I don’t propose there is only one path to spiritual awakening or waking up out of the dream of ego identity.  There are many. Your task is to discover yours.

Waking Up Spiritually

Here are some quick tips!

Become More Spiritually Self Aware – Decide now that you will no longer overidentify with your ego or persona. These are artificial constructs, helpful to navigate some aspects of life as matter in this 3rd dimensional world. But you are solely the ego or your personality. You’re so much more!

Stop Looking At Others For Validation – Connection is important, but if you’re looking at others to validate you or give you a sense of self-worth, you will eventually come up feeling empty. Realize now that you’re worthy, no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done, said or haven’t said.

You are worthy because you are a spiritual being already perfect and whole because you (the real you) has been created by God or Source or Divine Energy or whatever it is you believe created everything.

Say this now, “I depart from an ego-sense of self and accept my spiritual sense of being. In this present moment, I am healed, whole, and perfect here and now.” Repeat this all the time to get if from your head to your heart…to really grasp the depth of this truth.

Serve Faith Over Fear. If fear creeps in, recognize that it’s your false or carnal self feeling this emotion. But then remind yourself that the false, ego self is a construct. It’s not real, and therefore, it’s an illusion. So, fear is an illusion. The reality is that you are a spiritual being immersed in God’s cosmic ocean of safety and love. Depart from material senses into the spiritual sense of “being”. This takes conscious effort. I still have to remind myself of this quite often.

Look Through Outer Appearances.  It’s easy to point fingers at egos or false personalities, in ourselves and others. Resolve to look deeper, through the outer appearance to the reality or truth of the spiritual essence within. Can you look deep into another’s eyes and see their spirit? Their God-nature of Love? It might be challenging at times, especially if they are acting up, but try. Look past their flesh and their ego (including wounded ego or shadows). Be the Love you wish to see in the world.

Become An Observer – Be an observer, resisting the urge to pass judgment on yourself or others. This helps limit resistance. Just exist as one who watches thoughts and the cosmic play called life. Nature is great place to do this. Watch your thoughts, emotions, and build sense of separation between the watcher (your higher self or spirit) and what is watched. (Everything else, including your ego).

Be Still & Know.  Begin practicing stillness.  Whether you call it meditation, contemplation, prayer, quiet time, nature, retreats, etc., just do it.  It takes time and effort, but this inner journey can help broaden your perspective and see yourself more as spirit than flesh and bones. (energy over matter)

Intentional Journaling – Take time to journal regularly. You can use automatic writing, jot down your dreams, or work through a shadow work guided journal.

Check out our variety of Shadow Work Guided Journals:

shadow work journals cover


Open Up – Surrender and open your heart. Pour love out and watch what happens. The spirit is connected to Divine Love and truly desires you to feel the kind of love that heals all.

How Do We Know We Connect?

You may wonder how we can better feel connected to God as a spiritual being. This is something we can work on for a lifetime. Enlightened Masters, like Jesus, has plenty to say about representing God on this planet as an offspring of such a Powerful Creator.

Love God with all your heart.
Be the salt of the Earth.
Let your light shine before men.
Seek and you shall find.
Judge not.
Do unto others…
Bless those in need.

And, so much more!

Realize that the kingdom of God is within you. It’s not “out there”. Yes, God is everywhere, omnipresent, and you can connect “out there” (think of in nature). However, to really make a solid connection, gain greater awareness, become more intimate with God, etc., one must go within and be silent.  Seek God in the silence. Become an observer of your breath and listen.

Be still and know, I am God.

As you dedicate time toward seeking God from your spirit-self, you’re more apt to connect experience this mighty Power back of all things. It’s not a mental thing. Trust me, I logically sought God much of my life and that helped me learn things, but it was head knowledge, as opposed to experiential knowledge. Today, I’m much more serious about an inner journey zealous to deepen my relationship with a Divine God.  As I do, I find that I identify less with my false self and more as the spiritual being that I’ve always been and always will be.

This is one reason I find shadow work to be helpful.  When we go within and start asking some questions, we can better see that the “I” that we’ve been identified with most of our life isn’t really the True Self (spirit).  It takes time and practice, for sure.  I’m still gathering fragments of my wounded self and trying to heal and integrate them.  It’s a daily practice.

Not sure where to begin?

I’ve created a Shadow Work Guided Journal for Beginners to help those who are beginners on their spiritual or awakening journey.  Those who struggle with inner pain, anxiety, confusion, etc. and simply need some probing to get started on their inner healing journey. Feel free to check them out. There are a variety for those who are beginners and seasoned shadow work enthusiasts.

Many blessings to you,