The Definition of “Self”

The Definition of “Self”


Steve Wright, LCPC, RDDP


In the movie “The Majestic,” Jim Carey plays a screenwriter in the post WWII McCarthy era who is blacklisted. Subsequently, in his distress, he takes a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. In a rain storm, he loses control of his car on a bridge and plunges into a river, striking his head. He wakes up on the shoreline and a resident of a nearby town escorts him to see the local doctor. He cannot remember who he is and he looks strikingly like a former resident of the town who was listed as missing in action. The town, including the father of the missing young man, all believe he is that young man and begin to treat him as their favorite son come back. Without an identity of his own, he comes to accept the identity that is being imposed on him by the townsfolk.

Jim Carey’s character became defined by those around him. In a similar way, people often allow others to define who they are by receiving and accepting what others think and say about them. One would think that the answer is for individuals to begin to define themselves, to learn who they are, rather than letting others define them.

However, I believe that a better plan is to allow God to define us. The difficulty we face is that we have an infinite capacity to deceive ourselves. God sees us as we are. He knows us and, more importantly, He accepts us and loves us. God sees both the selfishness in our hearts and the potential we all have. He is both aware that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23),” and “We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 149:13).” Let us diligently live according to God’s definition, not the definition of others, and not our own.



Steve Wright, M.A., is currently a therapist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center located in the Chicago area. He served for more than 25 years as a minister working in churches with youth, families and as a senior pastor. As a counselor, he worked in residential treatment as a therapist, supervisor, coordinator, and program director first in the substance abuse field and then in the eating disorder field.

Steve’s Bachelor’s degree is in Biblical Studies from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. He also has a Master of Arts in Teaching from Olivet University and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.