How many people live inside my head? I do know it’s crowded, and sometimes they really get in the way of each other. I reach for the freezer door to pull out the ice cream.
Voice 1 responds, “Nope, remember you’re cutting down on sugar.”
Voice 2 weakly objects, “Yes but . . .”
I close the door and find myself sulking – at myself!
Does that ever happen to you – where you talk yourself out of or into something “for your own good”? What voice do you hear? Your mother’s? A teacher’s? Or some unknown part of you?
There’s no question that we’re all made of many parts, some we don’t even recognize. I know the “I need a munchie” part of me is large and noisy and needs taming. The “I gotta do this” part is bossy and parental, particularly around writing deadlines (hmm). And then there’s the part that just wants to laze on the sofa and watch TV shows like American Idol and All Creatures Great and Small.
And these are just the parts I know I’m tapping into every day or so. What about the parts I
I was curious about this, so I drafted a note to some friends and colleagues, asking them this question: “Do you think there’s a part of me that I don’t know about? Tell me what it is. I promise no repercussions!!” (grin).
I got some really interesting responses – some surprising and some I sort of knew but had overlooked.
“You’re resilient – you just keep going, never mind what.”
“You can be opinionated without facts.”
“You’re full of ideas.”
“You love color and surround yourself with it.”
“You seem to prefer animals over people.”
“You’re a good listener.”
“You’re impatient and have a hard time waiting for anything.”
“Some of your beliefs are ‘out there.’”
“Your energy can be exhausting.”
“You’re a kind and good person, except if people don’t keep their word. Then, you’re not. And then watch out!”
“You don’t do things by halves.”
It was then I realized that I don’t know myself as well as I thought. The good and the not so good. Most of us are only aware of ourselves through the eyes and opinions of the society we grew up in. We have no idea what else we have to offer. What our hidden strengths are. Are we resilient? Are we adaptable? Are we creative? Do we operate best as a leader or a second in command? What have we inherited from our ancestors?
Some of these traits we may know. Others go hidden and unused because they are just a part of us that has not been discovered or brought into use through the pathways of the life we currently live.
I decided to add this exercise to my work and started asking my clients, “How would you describe yourself?” Without fail, they started with the negative. Each time I heard this, I would ask, “And what else?” After about 8 times, people’s tone started to change and they all began to dig deeper. The deeper they dug, the more positive their comments became, and the wider the smiles. Admittedly, some people, mostly women, would answer with a pre-emptive, such as, “Well, maybe I’m kind,” or “Maybe I’m a good friend.” Eventually, they gave up the maybe’s and just made the statement.
It was a magical process, watching the physical changes and hearing the emotional lift right there as they experienced themselves larger, wider, deeper and more multi-faceted than they had previously imagined.
The excitement was palpable as people realized that they would never un-know what they had just discovered. In addition, they could continue this process on their own. In a couple of cases, clients said they would take this concept to their teenage children and let them start the process for themselves. The wide and deep exploration of who they are and how they are. All facets of self in the one person.
I’m going to continue to use this process in my clinic. I’m not sure what to call it (everything needs a name), maybe something like Archeology of Self or Your Dig-Down. I would love to hear your ideas. And when you use this concept for yourself, let me know how it goes.