Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our Many Selves

I encourage my patients to talk to themselves.  It doesn't have to be out loud, but it can be.  It is widely believed that talking to yourself is a sign of being  "crazy."  This is a complete fallacy.  The fact is, talking to yourself is completely normal.  We all do it, all the time, whether we're aware of it or not.  At any given moment, we all have some sort of running commentary taking place in our minds.  Some of us are more attuned to it than others but we all have it.  And whether we're tuned in to our self talk or not, it has a profound effect on our perceptions and emotions.

Not only do I encourage my patients to talk to themselves, I encourage them to talk back to themselves as well.  This is because we all have more than one inner voice; to maintain a healthy balance, we need to prevent any one voice from dominating the conversation. 

This may all seem a little strange at first but it actually makes a lot of sense.  We tend to think of the "self" as a single entity.  In reality, each person has multiple selves or "sub-personalities."  Each sub-personality has its own unique qualities and characteristics.  Many of our sub-personalities fill specific roles.  For example, I think and behave one way at work, another way at home, and another way when I'm out with my friends.  I may have a very responsible sub-personality and a thrill-seeking sub-personality.   Different sub-personalities are active at different times.  Ideally, all the "sub-personalities" or parts of a given individual should be aware of and communicate with one another.  They should work together cooperatively. 

It is important to avoid identifying with any one sub-personality.  When we identify with whatever part of the personality is activated in a given moment we become controlled by that part.  When we later look back from the perspective of another part of ourselves we may say, "I don't know what got into me!  I'm not usually like that!"

Through awareness and mindful observation we can become less identified with any one sub-personality and thereby gain more control over when, where, and how each one is activated.  When we are aware of the different parts of ourselves we can ensure that the desires, goals, and needs of each subpersonality are adequately addressed andd that no part is ignored or neglected.  When we neglect the desires and aspirations of any one part of ourselves we are vulnerable to being hijakced by the neglected part as it asserts itself in a desperate bid for attention. 

3 comments:

  1. This kind of plays with the Elliot Rodgers case. His voices of desire manifested out of loneliness... outweighed love for others.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/opinion/why-cant-doctors-identify-killers.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

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