Only God (INFINITE BEING) is SELF-EXISTENT or has a REAL SELF or "I." This is why His name is "I AM." So, what are we really communicating when we say "I AM John" or "I AM Mary" ? In fact, we are saying that we have no Being, Will or spiritual freedom of our own. Our own Being or Will is borrowed from God's Being, Will or Spiritual Freedom. It is a free gift from God.
When we live in our ego (or proprium), we are in self-love and self-intelligence and we erroneously believe that wisdom and goodness originate from our personal self. When we do this, we are living in illusions, falsehoods and fantasies. We then become inflated with self-pride and arrogance. We are in fact living in the hellish and egotistical prison of our ego. In order to escape from the spiritual prison of the ego (or proprium), we must become self-aware. What does it mean then to be self-aware? It means to uncover the true state of our being. The fact is that our self is simply a spiritual receptacle that is able to receive Love and Wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, we must understand that, in itself, our personal self is void, egotistical or evil. And we should also remember that the Love and Wisdom that are flowing into us by influx and correspondence are not our own. To become self-aware then means to wake up to the spiritual realities of Heaven. We are then not only aware of our outer or natural world but of the spiritual world as well. We are then no longer an automaton who reacts unconsciously to the outer world. We are conscious or aware that the material world is in correspondence with the spiritual world of our inner being.
When we live in our personal ego, we are spiritually asleep while, when we are self-aware, we are spiritually awake.
The state of a person when caught up in the proprium, that is, when he imagines that he lives from himself, is compared to a deep sleep. Indeed the ancients actually called it 'a deep sleep' while the Word speaks of people having 'the spirit of deep sleep poured out on them, and of their sleeping a perpetual sleep. The fact that man's proprium is in itself dead, that is, that nobody possesses any life from himself, has been demonstrated in the world of spirits so completely that evil spirits who love nothing except the proprium, and insist stubbornly that they do live from themselves, have been convinced by means of living experience, and have admitted that they do not live from themselves. With regard to the human proprium I have for several years now been given a unique opportunity to know about it - in particular that not a trace of my thinking began in myself. I have also been allowed to perceive clearly that every idea constituting my thought flowed in [from somewhere], and sometimes how it flowed in, and where from. Consequently anyone who imagines that he lives from himself is in error. And in believing that he does live from himself he takes to himself everything evil and false, which he would never do if what he believed and what is actually the case were in agreement. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 150]
Happy is he that is awake, signifies the happy state of those who look to the Lord. This is evident from the signification of "happy," as being to be in a happy state; also from the signification of "being awake," as being to acquire for oneself spiritual life; and this is acquired by man's looking to the Lord, because the Lord is Life itself, and from Him alone is life eternal. When a man is in life from the Lord he is in wakefulness; but when he is in life from himself he is asleep; or what is the same, when a man is in spiritual life he is in wakefulness, but when he is in natural life separated from the spiritual he is asleep; and what a man then sees is like what he sees in a dream. To live this life is meant also by "sleeping and slumbering" in the Word (as in Matt. 13:25; 25:5, 6; Mark 4:26, 27; 13:36; Isa. 5:27; Jer. 51:39, 57; Ps. 13:4; 76:7; and elsewhere). This makes clear what is signified by "being awake." Emanuel Swedenborg [AE 1006]