To perceive the self as the self is both a horrible and a necessary thing. Mind you, I do not mean to say that one may actually perceive the self as the self--such is impossible from a strictly human perspective--but one may and must try. We are all, inevitably, stories of ourselves, and a story may elucidate some portion of the truth, but a story is not the unmediated truth. But to say that our self-hood is composed of a story of the self is not the same as to say that such a story is untrue. Some stories must invariably be truer than others, but from our perspective the relative truth of any self-told story must be very difficult to determine. Just think on the story that you tell yourself about yourself. Presumably, you see yourself as a good person drifting amid a sea of those who are worse than you. This is almost certainly untrue. The person who perceives you from the perspective of the other is infinitely more qualified to tell you a true story of your self than are you, but she will not. She will not because either she is as lost in herself as you are and perceives not this truth or she is terrified of speaking truth and being judged in turn. For none of us can stand under such scrutiny.
-I add a caveat to this: that one may truly perceive oneself as the worst of his fellows. For while it may technically be true from some abstract perspective that others are greater sinners, the self is in the best position to see into the depths of the soul's own depravity. The soul only sees the whitewashed exteriors of other souls. He may hypothesize as to their true state, but his observable reality extends no further than the depths of himself, that swirling cauldron of blackness pulling him ever deeper into the abyss.