From my perspective, we are multi-dimensional beings. There are many ways to understand this concept. The easiest is to recognize that our 1-year-old self is still alive and well inside of us, as well as our 13-year-old, our 27-year-old and every other year old you want to put there. All of our parts are present. Those parts have not gone anywhere. It’s also important to note that we made decisions about ourself and about life at those different ages. And those decisions are still in place unless we have consciously gone back and re-educated those parts of ourself with new updated, mature information.
That’s why we often hear different ideas or voices inside our head. Let’s say I’m thinking about doing something like skydiving:
My 16-year-old says, “Yeah!! That would be cool. I want to jump out of a plane and fly!”
My 33-year-old then says, “I don’t know. That’s pretty expensive. I need to save some money for a house or something important.”
Then my 6-year-old comes in and says, “NO! That’s scary! Don’t make me do it!”
And then my 42-year-old starts to think about what the air speed would be as I hit the ground and wonders if I need to do some exercises or some special stretching so I don’t stir up that old football injury.
What to do? How do I make a decision with all of these conflicting voices? Shakespeare said, “To thyne own self be true.” Great concept, but which “self”? Which voice do I listen to?
The first step is to realize that we have these different voices offering up their advice. They’re all sharing their truth from their perspective. They all want things to be done their way. The challenge is to get this “committee” to come together in a consensus so we can make a decision that’s for the highest good for all of our parts.
One way to do this is to do what I call “dialogue writing.” That involves taking out a piece of paper and a pen, and giving each “self” a voice by writing down its truth, its opinion, its concerns, its fears, and its ultimate intention. The goal here is to find a way where all parts of you can be heard and have its ultimate intention be fulfilled.
If we look at the example above, there are several intentions being stated:
the 16-year-old wants adventure,
the 33-year-old wants to be financially responsible,
while the 6-year-old and the 42-year-old both want to be safe.
Often, just by taking the time to write down all of the various concerns each part of us has, a resolution shows up. In the skydiving case, three intentions are being requested. Is there a way to have an adventure that’s affordable, while still being safe? Is there a way to create a skydiving experience that fulfills these three intentions?
In order to come to a resolution we might need to bring in another part of our self I call the “neutral observer” – the wise-one inside:
It knows how to set healthy boundaries.
It knows how to communicate and create consensus.
It provides protection and nurturing so the vulnerable child can avoid shame and/or pain.
And, it can inspire and encourage all parts of us to the higher goal or the higher good. You might be saying, “I don’t know if I have a ‘neutral observer’ inside of me.” I would encourage you to play with this technique a bit and I have a feeling that you will find a very wise-one deep inside that has been waiting for you to invite it to share its wisdom.
Robert C. Jameson, Marriage and family therapist… focusing on helping clients understand and overcome issues, such as anger, hurt, depression, anxiety, love, relationships, boundaries and limiting beliefs, to name a few. He is the author of Thoughts of Pomery, an entertaining book of pictures and thoughts that guides the reader to expand their perceptions of life and relationships with others, Don’t Lose Weight — Give It Away, which explores the emotional aspects of weight loss, and The Pocket Oasis, a fun and useful pocket-sized book that can be used as a tool to help center anyone during a hectic day. www.thekeystojoyfilledliving.com
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