Hot-air Baloon

Ch-3: Develop Your Higher Self:
The part that loves you unconditionally

Part 5

Tom G. Stevens PhD
Psychologist/Professor Emeritus, California State University, Long Beach
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Chapter 3, Part 5 from,  You Can Choose To Be Happy,  Tom G. Stevens PhD
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Your Higher Self as your inner hero

 The Higher Self as  Your Inner Hero
 We will become more spontaneous


As I have been writing this book, I carry on all sorts of internal dialogues. My inner psychologist says that it is important for the readers to know about important psychological principles that will help them understand more about themselves. My inner writer part says that people want to hear interesting stories or cleverly worded statements more than dry theory. These two parts battle on every page over meaty content substance versus style and interest. Which one is the "real me"?

When you say "me" or "I," what do you mean? What part of your cognitive system is doing the talking? Generally, it is some part of the executive self. However, the executive self has many subparts. We can be most aware of these subparts when we talk with ourselves or shift points of view.

When I first wrote my "How to be Happy" years ago, my ideas were tentative. I was not sure if I believed the things I was writing or not. They were more like hypotheses to be experimented with. I did not yet identify with them. However, after all these years, these values and beliefs are the heart of my identity--I do not question them seriously anymore because they have worked so well, for so long.

As your Higher Self develops and successfully guides your daily life, it will become stronger and achieve even more control of your life. You will gradually identify with it more, and you will say, "I have inner peace; I am living my life the way I really want to."

The Higher Self is selective about which habits it changes. As the Higher Self observes our daily habits and beliefs, it will tend to change those parts that are inconsistent with its higher beliefs. For some people changing higher beliefs will dramatically affect a number of life areas. For others it will involve only minor changes. In general, the more life-enhancing our previous beliefs and habits have been, the less change that will be necessary.

The Higher Self as Inner Hero. So many times I have seen someone facing extremely difficult circumstances reach deep inside and find inner strength they didn't know they had. I have seen clients ready to die--unable to find anything to live for--suddenly find the will to live.

Dawn, one of Sherry's clients, had a form of cancer that is almost always fatal. Her treatment necessitated moving away from her beloved Seal Beach to a cold, east coast climate. While in therapy, Sherry and Dawn worked on helping Dawn accept the loss of things she would miss and ways to keep them alive in her heart after her move. Dawn tried visualization, positive thinking, and reading Dr. Bernie Siegle's book, Love, Medicine, and Miracles. She practiced learning how to play and find happiness within herself.

In a letter to Dawn, Sherry sent sand from Seal Beach and suggested that she listen to the song Hero. Dawn wrote back. She loved the sand, and had--almost unbelievably--an encounter with Bernie Siegel, who had been kind and helpful. Coincidentally, she had already been listening to the song, Hero, during all her chemotherapy sessions. The song Hero is a reminder that you may feel all alone in the world and feel no one is there for you. Yet, you can always feel loved if you look deep enough inside to your Higher Self. Inside is a hero that always loves you, is always there for you, and is strong enough to overcome any circumstances. At times, you may feel weak, empty, and hopeless. But if you look to your Higher Self, you will find the strength to survive and the strength to rise above your fears. For inside your heart, you will find your inner hero. Dawn, indeed, found the hero inside herself. Think of your Higher Self as your Inner Hero whenever you need strength or love you can't find from others, or don't think you have yourself.

Return to beginning


Dr. Abraham Maslow (1962) talked about "our essential inner nature" in a way that is similar to what I mean by Higher Self. He discussed its initially fragile character and pointed out how it can be repressed or pushed aside, but not lost entirely.

He believed that psychological health was not possible unless this essential core was accepted, loved, and allowed to grow and develop. Ultimately, the person cannot move to self-actualization without adopting the metavalues such as those Maslow identified. Developing these higher values is a critical part of strengthening your Higher Self.


wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness,

simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness,

truth, and self-sufficiency

As we develop the Higher Self and our philosophy of life, and as we begin to resolve our inner conflicts and live by these metavalues, we move down the path toward self-actualization.

As we approach self-actualization, our behavior will become more spontaneous. Dr. Maslow's self-actualized people were spontaneous and natural. They seemed to act with less conflict and more ease than most other people. However, this spontaneity came only later in life, after they had resolved most of their important internal conflicts. Once inner conflicts are resolved--integrated around our ultimate concern--we can be more spontaneous and free.

Instead of work versus play, work becomes play. Instead of me versus them, most acts are done both for self and other. As the yeast from the Higher Self works its way through the mind, our choices represent more of our inner parts working together in harmony. As Maslow said, "Be healthy and then you can trust your impulses." (A. H. Maslow, 1954, p.179)
Return to beginning


You know that inside somewhere is the true you, the part that is your best part, the part that represents what you want most, the part that really loves you and others, the part that is your inner hero. That part is your Higher Self. Have you ever tried to write your best and most important Higher Self beliefs?

A few years ago, I decided to write my own current version of "How To Be Happy." I wanted to integrate all that I had learned from my personal life and my years as a psychologist. The result was a list of key beliefs and skills that formed the basis for this book. I have summarized them in the box, "I CHOOSE LOVE, TRUTH, and HAPPINESS." These guidelines are commitments that are from the conscious core of my philosophy of life and of my "Higher Self." Just about everything else in my life follows from this center of my values and goals.

PRACTICE: Write Your Higher Self Statements. Perhaps you would like to make a similar commitment to yourself. You may use my version, or (better) write your own version. When you have your first version, put it in a place where you will look at it frequently on a daily or weekly basis (in a closet, inside a cabinet door, on a mirror, etc.). Periodically revise it.

Loving Myself, Loving Others, and Loving All Creation

(Beliefs that are the Foundation of My Higher Self)


I am grateful for the gift of life. I was given the gift of life and the opportunity to create a happy life for myself. I did not earn or deserve life or this opportunity--so I will not complain that my time on Earth or opportunities may not be as great as someone else's.

I am the person most responsible for meeting my own needs and values. I cannot prove that my feelings are important, I can only assert that they are important to me because I am the one affected by them. I am also the person most in control of my own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Since I am the one most in control, I am also the one most responsible for my thoughts, feelings, and actions. [I am not primarily responsible for others' thoughts, emotions, or actions.]

My ultimate concern is maximizing my own and others' happiness and contributing to the good of the universe. All other values or goals are less important than this ultimate concern. I recognize that whenever I do not keep this as my ultimate concern, I will confuse the means with the end and decrease my chances of being happy.

 I try to properly balance present with future happiness and balance my own with others' happiness-- a key to inner harmony.

 For every decision I make--especially big ones--I will attempt to estimate which alternative will lead to the greatest truth and happiness. I will choose that alternative.

Part of my ultimate concern is to always seek truth and growth for myself and others. My mind was designed to seek the truth and continually grow in knowledge. Without truth and growth I cannot be maximally happy. Others have the same needs to ultimately find happiness. Truth and growth are basic principles of the universe. Therefore, I will make them top priority conscious goals and "hunger and thirst" for the truth.

I care about every cell, system, and value in myself. Every cell and every system in my body and mind is important to my overall functioning, health, and happiness, and I care for each one. One way to care for each part of myself is to give it proper exercise and allow it regular harmonious functioning.

 Similarly, every living cell and creature is important--the most important being the happiness of humans.

I will take good care of every area of my life (and encourage others to do likewise) including:

 My Higher Self and spiritual needs.  I will continue to develop the part of me that loves life, myself, and others. I will seek greater understanding, empathy, acceptance, and forgiveness of myself and others--even those who have harmed me (that does not exclude reparations).

 My relationships with others--empathy, love, and clear boundaries. I will seek win--win relationships with others and realize that each of us is primarily responsible for our own happiness. I will not allow myself to remain in abusive or win--loose relationships where I am either the winner or loser. I will either change the relationship until it is acceptable or separate myself from it. Some other guidelines:

  •  Loving means giving without expecting anything in return.
  •  I give primarily out of empathy and love--giving makes me happier by seeing others happy. I give only secondarily to get something in return.
  •  Loving effectively is giving what the other person truly wants/needs.
  •  Empathetic listening and exploring issues in depth is the way to discover what the other wants/needs.
  •  If there is conflict between what I think others' needs are and others' requests, I must use my deep understanding to decide the issue. However, normally I go by what they say.
  •  If I can help create a good relationship with one person, I can help create at least that good a relationship with someone else.

 My relationship to nature, beauty, and my environment.

My body, health, and safety.

 My mind, learning, and growth in each area of knowledge.

 My emotions. While pleasure is important, happiness is much more important. To obtain happiness I must resolve inner conflicts and feel good about my current and future satisfaction of values in each life area. I must learn how to function harmoniously (See chapters 7, 8).

 My material and financial needs.

 My education and career--my contributions to other people and the world.

 My play and personal activities.  I will set priorities for my free time that produce the greatest happiness (and is not based on "shoulds"). During this time I can meet health and happiness values such as physical activity, learning, beauty, spirituality, social, creativity, sex, and many more.  I will minimize time spent on less productive and fun activities. I will do them as quickly and efficiently as possible or try to create a natural interest or fun in them. 


SHAQ Research Results: The Higher Self


�� I created a scale to summarize the main values corresponding to the idea of Higher Self presented in this chapter.

�� The Higher Self scale consists of the following values-beliefs:

Self-happiness, others’ happiness; balance present-future, self-others’ happiness; base decisions on maximizing happiness for self-others; value/love self and all unconditionally; accept all parts of self; gratitude-abundance thinking; integrity; develop personal philosophy; learning, self-development; exploration/truth; competence, be best I can be; complete all important goals; independence; self-sufficiency; self-discipline; health and longevity; life balance; beauty; goodness; and fun and playfulness.


The Higher Self scale correlated with Overall happiness, .50; with Low Depression, 25; with Low Anxiety, .20; with Low Anger-Aggression, .37; with good Relationship Outcomes, .44; and with good Health outcomes, .37.[15]


 Therefore, our research supports the idea that these Higher Self values are associated with not only happiness and low depression, anxiety, and anger; but also with good health, relationships, and other positive life outcomes (Stevens, 2009).


Chapter Summary:

Where do I look for guidance I can trust?
Not from my lower pleasures and pains--they are too shortsighted.
Not from just any emotions or thoughts--
they may come from dysfunctional parts of myself.
Not from just anyone--they may not know or care what is best for me.
Then where?
I can trust the emotions and inner voice of my Higher Self, because
the Higher Self reflects true empathy and love for self and others.
Even if it makes errors, at least it values happiness and truth above all.
It is my inner hero and spiritual center.
Every time I listen to it and choose its way,
I become stronger and increase my chances for happiness.

  Return to beginning

Go to next chapter (Chapter 4: Create A Positive World
By Adopting A Positive World View)

1. 1 Or if you prefer, think of the Higher Self as the leader of an organization or the coach of a team.

2. 1 I have learned from a number of religions and philosophers. I have a United Methodist background and completed the MTh degree at the School of Theology at Claremont. I am now somewhat independent. However, I see great potential in the best teachings of all of them. I see many clients with major problems partially caused by how they were taught or treated by parents or others who were active members in some religion. Therapy has sometimes consisted of helping them change these beliefs that their parents thought were part of Jesus' teachings. Usually, these beliefs are inconsistent with Jesus' teachings. Clients appear to be happier and function better in their lives when they change their beliefs to more understanding, caring, democratic, and life-affirming ones.

In my book--especially this chapter--I use several examples or quotes that are especially relevant and meaningful. My use of them does not mean that I am recommending that anyone change their own religion or see these quotes as carrying the authority of God. Their ultimate truth value is up to each reader to decide for themselves. Instead, I would like you to view them as powerful statements that represent the point-of-view of Jesus or some other highly respected teacher.

3. Kelly (1955) used the term range of convenience to mean how broad a set of inputs a category covers (discussed in chapter 7). The predictive validity of beliefs as measured by the natural feedback they receive is seen as a primary underlying mechanism for belief verification in many cognitive, learning, and neural network theories.


The BOOK (free download): Go to Contents of Dr. Stevens'  book,  You Can Choose To Be Happy: "Rise Above" Anxiety, Anger, and Depression.

FREE SELF-HELP materials available on this web site (click here to see list)  

  How to ORDER You Can Choose To Be Happy  

Success and Happiness Attributes Questionnaire (SHAQ)  to assess self on many factors  including HQ-Happiness Quotient 

Email feedback to Dr. Stevens I welcome your comments about my web site or any of its contents.           

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