We Are Not Who We “Think” We Are with Kate Gustin, Ph.D.

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It is easy to get caught up in our mind’s version of who we are. Our thoughts do a great job of trying to define us as an island, as a discrete individual with a particular narrative about who we think we are. This construct of creating our personal myths begins when, as toddlers, we start to use language. Gustin has observed that many of her clients have a concept of themselves at odds with what she sees in them. She says, “I observed that each person would come in with a very particular narrative, a story about who they believed themselves to be and usually these stories were somewhat stressful. They had concepts of themselves as broken, or damaged, or dysfunctional. It struck me that each person is carrying a particular image of themselves that is at odds with the capable, lovable person I was seeing in front of me. They were living their mind’s reality and it was so out of sync with their strengths and their capacities.” She emphasizes the concept of “selfing” which, rather than a fixed identity, is an on-going process that supports an openness to experience life as an ongoing and ever-changing process without attachment to personal outcomes or storylines. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Kate Gustin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who received her education from Princeton University and the University of California at Berkeley. She’s worked in a variety of settings as a mental health practitioner: Outpatient psychiatry, Community Mental Health Clinics, VA Hospital, College Counseling Services, and is currently in private practice in San Rafael in Northern California. She integrates the science of positive psychology and leads classes, workshops, and trainings throughout the region. Dr. Gustin offers No-Self Help – an approach to identity, relationship, and responsibility that draws on the spirituality of eastern wisdom traditions and advances in western psychology.

Kate Gustin is the author of:

To learn more about the work of Kate Gustin go to www.kategustin.com

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is a way of knowing our true self that is not language-based
  • When do we begin to unconsciously create narrative about who we are
  • How language works in the brain and how we believe in the content of our thoughts
  • What is the process of “selfing” as an on-going process rather than a fixed identity
  • Why we need to go deeper into our true self which is the no-self beyond our thoughts and feelings
  • How can we deal with conflict as a no-self
  • What is the thought experiment of dropping personal pronouns such as I, we, they
  • What are some helpful questions that we can begin our day with
  • Why it is not appropriate to stop our thought but instead to redirect our awareness
  • Where do preferences start to conflict with reality
  • How our “museum of memory” can reinforce our negative bias
  • How can we effectively work with trauma and PTSD 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 4/5/2019   Program Number: 3675

Music Playlist

From Album: Arabesque
Artist: Radhika Miller
B013Q7BEGM Redhika Miller

Opening Essay: Track 10 Emma
Music Break 1: Track 2 Arabesque
Music Break 2: Track 3 Lost My Shoestring
Music Break 3: Track 5 Chopinesque