WHAT IS THE HIGHER SELF AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The "higher" self is actually who you really are. It exists because of, and was created by, the higher brain. Note that animals do not have a higher self. Note that the higher self did not come installed in our body, but that the higher brain did come installed. It is with the higher brain that we create a concept of self, whereas animals operate in a programmed way. While humans have programming also, they have the unique power to revise existing program and to self program.
The "lower self" is essentially a function of the lower brain, where programming and a huge bias toward fear and protection (for survival) thinking occurs. In its "fear response" it takes over the body and drastically reduces the functioning of the higher brain. When we are in the lower brain, we live a life fully of fear and programming and lack of understanding. We live in an automatic survival mode.
In the higher brain (which is the mechanism that creates the ability to be our higher self), we seek to be in "thrival", instead of survival. It's main mission is to experience life fully and to create meaning from which we create fulfillment and happiness. Accordingly, it creates higher goals and aims for maximizing our benefits in life.
It is the source of our joy and happiness and our consciousness and experiencing of life. And its goals are what we seek in life. However, we have to manage and limit and reprogram, to the extent we can, the lower brain/mind to cooperate. Otherwise, it will keep conflicting with achieving our higher goals and happiness, via negative emotions that incapacitate or diminish our higher functions.
Our job is to "align" ourselves with what our higher self wants for us and to disengage/manage the lower self so that it doesn't interfere. Our job #1 is first to assure that we are in our full power mode, functioning at a higher level so that we can be in our higher brain and live a greater life because of it! (See Living Life In The Power Flow Zone and the mechanism to return to it: The Power Pause.) See Who I Really Am, and be sure to be clear about this as it will affect the whole rest of your life and your psychology and your philosophy and how you see yourself (as your higher self)!
USING THE HIGHER SELF AS A VIEWPOINT, A PERSONA
The "higher self" is often used as a metaphor but it is useful as such in that it creates a conceptual "persona" (fictional person in a sense, but with distinct characteristics) and in so doing creates a viewpoint from which to look at things. Essentially, one "takes on the persona" as if one is temporarily that fictional "person."
If someone operates from the persona of "child", then one has a viewpoint, a way of looking at things, that is based on being powerless, being dependent, being hurtable, etc.
But from the higher self viewpoint one uses what are considered the higher powers of a human being: using reason, analysis, planning, perspective, awareness of self, volition (the ability to choose). This is the "self" that is created uniquely in the human being, whereas animals do not have a sense of self nor the brain capability of creating such a sense of self and the ability to alter what is in the brain.
When people look at the question of "Who Am I?", the answer is most correctly "I am the consciousness and capability of creating and experiencing desired results and life itself as it is."
Well, isn't that the "higher brain" functions that we have evolved to have that make us more advanced than our preceding species? (Read Who Am I?, so you can also see that you are not anything you "have" or do or know, although this all gets confused with the "who you actually are". It is essential to mental health to understand this idea, as it eliminates the unhealthy defensiveness and anxieties around our self-identification that create our unhappiness - and you'll find this as a basis for all higher level philosophical disciplines. I repeat: it is essential that you understand this if you want to live life at a higher level.
OTHER POSSIBLE NAMES
It is useful to clearly identify this "persona" in a way that works for you, where it is clearly not a mixed entity (i.e. your mother's voice, or even your own voice, as "you" are a mixed entity of effectiveness and ineffectiveness, wisdom and non-wisdom).
I personally prefer:
The Rational, Nurturing Adult (or The Rational, Loving Adult)
The Higher Brain
The Wise Self (or The Wiser Self)
The Real Me
The Wise Advocate (could be used when one "feels" one needs an advocate...)
The True Self
I prefer not to use a name that has my name in it, in general, though I see the possible value in using My Higher Keith. In a visualization, I once went to the top of a mountain to have my Guide reveal it/himself to me - it turned out to be me, but a wise version of me without the other stuff. I eventually found the name My Higher Brain to work better for me in the exercises where I needed to be a distinctly separate higher functioning entity.
If we are looking from a child persona, we might consider the higher self to be our special ally in life. It is useful to have allies in life, so gather some actual ones, but don't fail to also develop some other useful metaphorical allies, such as suggested in Creating The Caring, Feeling, Presence (where you determine your allies and/or caring figures), The Interaction With The Child And The Unconditionally Loving Allies (a format for unraveling some problem thought; reduce "view" to fit on the screen), and Relaxed, Centered, In Touch, 3 Minutes At A Time (a quick and useful recentering, calming exercise). (For more on "allies" enter the term in the search engine).
DEVELOPING THE HIGHER SELF
Since the higher self is actually those parts of the brains that are physically grouped together, the development of one function of the higher brain tends to develop the other higher parts also, somewhat in tandem.
These are developed the same way we develop any muscle - by repeated use and by using it at a higher and higher level.
These are developed by doing the following:
1. Putting thoughts and vague concepts into language (in Socratic learning, one learns a greater level of understanding through verbalizing the concepts he is seeking to learn and to integrate into use; Landmark Education uses this extensively, though there are people who see it as "just a bother" because they believe [often incorrectly] they already "know" the idea without having gone through the whole learning process [See Authentic Learning.].)
This can be done through:
a. Verbalizing (Forces one to think about it and with the parts of something; a very high use of the brain, more rigorous than one might think)
b. Writing and formulating on paper. (The seemingly innocuous action of writing in a journal actually forces one to use one's higher brain to create something in black and white; this is often "dismissed" as being no big deal, but those individuals who dismiss it will not make the progress that users of it will. The preference of "let's just talk about it" or "I've got the idea, I don't need to go write it down" is a significant barrier to developing one's higher brain's functioning in this regard. We've got to use this muscle to strengthen the higher part of the brain.) See Why Do It In Writing.
c. Any "thinking" process where one is trying to deduce meaning or to "think something through"
2. Analysis, where we are using the unique ability of humans to draw together various facts and inferences and to reason among them, creatively putting them together to come to a useful conclusion to have life or something in life work better. This is why I emphasize as a key critical skill that of Problem Solving (which includes, of course, decision making).
3. Focussing, directing one's attention, concentrating. It is interesting to note that the renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson identifies the happiest people in the world as being Tibetan Buddhist monks, who have the largest most developed happiness center in the brain. And what they practice is meditating, the most recommended practice for focussing one's attention in all of the major higher thought disciplines!
4. Active reading. Thinking and putting together what you are reading for a better understanding; evaluating what is being read. Use the SQ3R reading comprehension method and you'll understand and retain more - and you'll develop the higher part of your brain more. 5. Learning. The more deliberate the better. If you want to "master" anything, you should read this and know that you can, in fact, master whatever you want to: The Process Of Learning Effectively. And you'll do it faster if you use "deliberate practice" - see the recommended piece.
WHY DEVELOP THE HIGHER SELF?
As with anything that is repeated and learned, abilities and strengths become automatic, effortless, and more highly functioning. Developing the higher brain sets it up so that the center that screens out nonsense thoughts automatically is able to do this better and better - which of course means you have far fewer untrue, distressing thoughts running across your brain, plus you are able to spot them consciously and to replace them more easily.
You'll get better at problem solving, and it'll be easier to do so. Consequently, you'll tend to solve problems earlier and you'll have fewer problems. You'll also have a "sense of efficacy", where you feel you can handle life well, so you are not prone to worry about undesired outcomes - which, if fully developed, causes one to be Fearless. See also A Sense Of Control (the opposite of the child persona viewpoint).
Many people try to make themselves "fearless" directly - but that is very difficult to do, if not impossible. But if the higher self is developed, much of this will become automatic, plus having the ability to look and to analyze well will cause one to heed fewer and fewer of the untrue fear recordings that come out of the brain (plus you'll use those thought recordings less often, so that wiring will wither away, thereby removing the means for conveying random fear messages!).
So, bottomline, the reason to develop the higher thinking abilities is that you'll live a happier life. It's not about the means being the goal (i.e. we are not just learning to think better in order to be better thinkers, period); it is only about accomplishing the key purpose of life: happiness.
THE USE OF THE HIGHER SELF TO CREATE A BETTER LIFE
It's fairly obvious, I think, that if we are more able to use our reasoning powers then we'll reach better conclusions and run our lives better. If we use logic, we'll have fewer illogical conclusions and behaviors - and thus fewer problems and upsets.
As we herd our mental attention toward what we want to focus on, we develop a natural version of what we dreadingly call self-discipline (where we imagine it is a process of struggle against ourselves and that it is "hard"). See Discipline - The Only Choice. Discipline is one of the irrefutable key items in developing power in life. It doesn't have to be difficult if we train our "muscles" to do it easily and to do it with alot less effort per amount of benefit.
One of the key uses for the higher brain is to assume the higher brain (higher self) point of view in order to 1) look at the unverified (often false) messages that come from the brain whenever it matches up a picture with something that occurs and 2) then to decide if it is true and, if not, 3) to derive what would be true.
It is also a useful way of talking to oneself as any higher being would talk to any person: with compassion, understanding, support, and nurturing - which is an absolute must to develop if one is to be happy. (The opposite of those is a major cause of unhappiness; all of the opposites are based on false premises and misunderstanding, which, of course, we need to use the higher brain to replace.)
Even if one doesn't do the process of using the higher brain correctly (as one is likely to not know very well how to do that at first [as in any learning situation]), the attempt to use it and the actual doing of the attempt will cause the brain to rewire to use this faculty more and more with less and less effort.
Essentially, you are going to end up with far fewer harmful, untrue thoughts of fear and discomfort plus also have far more rational, pleasant and happy thoughts - shifting the balance from a typical ratio of 3+ to 1 negative to positive to a 3+ to 1 (or preferably a 5+ to 1) positive to negative ratio. See The Positivity Ratio. Essentially we are diminishing the massive hordes of Monguls attacking us while also strengthening the Powerful Forces of Good on our side, using the Law Of Numbers And Strength.
All of the major higher thought disciplines say that the number one objective is to develop mastery over one's thinking, for that will lead to all that will make one masterfully capable of creating results and deep happiness. Without it, you have chaos, vagueness, and lots of erroneous information - allowing fear that is not real to rule one's life.
WHAT THE HIGHER SELF IS NOT
In "new age" and "metaphysics", people often consider intuition, "gut feel"", a hunch, their heart messages, and such as being from the higher self, often attributing a kind of mystical magic to it. They are actually bits of information which are in the lower brains that come together in the "matching" function of the lower brain as a "vote" or a "creative inspiration" or possibility. The higher brain then would pay attention to what comes up to see if it is accurate and/or helpful, but it would never take such a thing as fact or a command or "a message from on high". Read Intuition, Useful But Not Accurate.
WILL YOU CHOOSE THIS?
If you want a better life and a better functioning thinking, then you will choose to do more of these activities and to stop entertaining the harmful untrue thoughts.
Will you commit to:
Writing things down
Planning in writing
Replying to thoughts and reworking them
Learning more, especially how the brain works and how life works
Use the problem solving forms and formats (on this site)
Organizing knowledge in a referenceable, usable fashion
Add to this list any other actions you can do that will develop that part of your brain and then print the list and keep it in your Reminders Notebook.