Mirror, Mirror on the wall, help me to see how I can fall, into the trap the false self can see and help me to be what God wants of me.
Self-understanding is one of the goals in spiritual direction. Achieving this goal can be a long and difficult path. Each of us has a nature that is both predisposed to not seek the will of God but instead “to do what is right in our own eyes” and prone to adopt a false self that is fueled by our own perceived needs and desires.
Kay Northcutt gives us a list of three ways the false self helps shape how we see ourselves,
“One manifestation of the false self, for example, presents a highly idealized notion of one’s self, what one does, how one is perceived, and why one does what one does. A second aspect of the false self can be driven by what we imagine others want us to be and to become. And finally, there is the false self of underrated, doormat-like behaviors.”
There is a well-circulated story of a pastor who thought very highly of his preaching ability. While riding home after a service he jokingly asks his wife how many great preachers in the world. His wife told him one less than he thought.
The false self is a liar. The false self is more likely to deceive us than others. When we allow the false self to have its way, we are setting ourselves up for pain and worse.
The way to limit the influence of the false self is to work to become self-aware, self-engaged, and self-reflective. We develop these counters to the false self by learning to use the Examen prayer, keeping a journal, contemplation, meditation, and other spiritual disciplines that help us to engage our true self, the self God desires for us. It also helps to have a competent spiritual director to go with us on this inner quest.
The task is not easy but is worth the effort to develop a closer relationship with God, others, and ourselves. Such work can bring spiritual freedom. It can renew our faith. It can empower our vocations and it makes it harder for the evil one to use our false sense against us.
 Kay Northcutt. Kindling Desire for God: Preaching As Spiritual Direction (Kindle Location 928-932). Kindle Edition.