We all have different selves or parts active in us at different times. These selves are the central building blocks of the psyche. Like different identities we take on their energy, or they run our show, seemingly without our input. The purpose of understanding the selves is to become aware of them so that we are at choice as to which one is being activated.
How so the Selves develop?
Each newborn comes into this world with a unique quality of ‘being’, which all mothers and fathers can confirm. They come in totally vulnerable and depending on adults to take care of them. Sooner or later the infant learns to establish some control to avoid painful or unpleasant situations. This is where they develop different selves to deal with whatever life throws at them.
The first self that develops from the state of vulnerability (The Vulnerable Self) is the self that watches over us: The Protector. It makes sure we act appropriately, according to what has been learned from parents and later teachers, and also ensures our safety.
From there onwards there are various selves that might come to form part of our psychic fingerprint: the Critic, the Pusher, the Perfectionist, the Controller, the Pleaser, the Judge, the Responsible Self, the Victim etc. Which ones we choose largely depends on what we have to deal with in life.
Awareness is the Key
The purpose of knowing about the different selves is awareness. Once we get to know and familiarize ourselves with our predominant primary selves, we can then more actively choose how we want to act, as opposed to reacting automatically and unconsciously.
None of the selves are inherently bad or negative. They all have developed to deal with life’s experiences and to take care of the individual. Most of the time it is either the interaction or dynamic between these selves, and the selves reacting to other people that creates stress and anxiety in our lives.
Getting in touch with the Selves
Start by reading up on the different selves – there are various articles you can find in my collection of articles: Introducing the Self. Pay attention to your everyday reactions and thinking patterns and you will notice reoccurring themes. Start by mapping out a ‘Psychic Map’ by drawing circles for the selves you’ve already become aware of in yourself. Sometimes it is good to ask your intimate partner or good friends whether they are aware of selves that are active in you, that you might have disowned or are just unconscious of.
This series of articles started out through my work with clients in therapy, where I found that working with different voices and selves is highly beneficial. I can recommend that you search for someone trained in working with different selves if you are committed to self-development and want to have a choice over who is running your life!
I would also like to thank Hal and Sidra Stone, whose work on ‘Voice Dialogue’ has influenced my work in very meaningful ways.
Other articles in this series that might be of interest to you:
- Introducing the Self – The Vulnerable Self
- Introducing the Self – The Protector
- Introducing the Self – The Controller
- Introducing the Self – The Critic
- Introducing the Self – The Competitor
- Introducing the Self – The Pusher
- Introducing the Self – The Perfectionist
- Introducing the Self – The Pleaser
- Introducing the Self – The Judge
- Introducing the Self – The Victim
- Introducing the Self – The Responsible Self
See my blog for all the articles of the selves mentioned in this list.