Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Peace with the Different Voices in our Heads

Last week, I introduced the topic of "parts," or the various psychological players that make up our psyches. Even though our minds would like to think of themselves as a single entities or unified wholes, in reality we can be extremely conflicted internally due to opposing parts. A typical example is the yoyo dieter, someone who alternates between losing weight and gaining weight (because part of him/her values being thin while another part values something else more).

Perhaps the most important thing to realize about parts is that they were originally formed to help you in some important way. Parts are never our enemies, even if they appear to sabotage our goals or desires. If this is happening, it doesn't mean that we need to snuff out that part of ourselves (which is impossible and just makes the subpersonality have to fight harder), but that we need to get acquainted with the part to discover what it's concerns or goals are. If there are opposites alive in us, instead of aligning with one and rejecting the other, we need to hear each one out and find a middle ground where each is comfortable.

If you're reacting to this idea of accepting a "trouble-making" part of yourself, consider this:  it's there for a reason---possibly a very good one---and as long as you reject it, you trap yourself in a prison of your own making. Fighting, bickering, and sabotaging ourselves is a huge waste of energy, while being willing to coexist or even work together helps you harness your superpowers for good.

The (sometimes disturbing) truth is that we humans all have attractive and unattractive personality traits, and most of us identify with a few of them while forcing the others to go underground. Then, when we see someone else proudly displaying our "shadow material," we have to judge them harshly. It's sort of the law. Rejection of (or attraction to) others is a sure signs that what we see in them exists inside of us. If you have a love/hate relationship with your partner, this is probably (meaning definitely) why.

How do we make peace with ourselves and the people in our lives? We get chummy with our inner parts (especially the ones we've rejected), and back off a little from the ones we've overidentified with, like Mr. Nice Guy, or Caring Woman. (Note, however, that sometimes we overidentify with our faults while keeping our strengths in the shadows This is just the other side of the same coin.)

Please join me here next week when we get into the nuts and bolts of meeting and working with our parts.