Do you know all of your ‘selves’ and how they came to be?
Have you experienced yourself as if you were accessing a different part of yourself? Some people report experiences like “A part of me wants to explode, while another wants to remain calm.” There are a number of experts who have ideas about this. Terry Real refers to ‘wounded child’, ‘adaptive child’ and ‘wise adult’. Dick Schwartz refers to ‘exiles’, ‘managers’, ‘fire fighters’ and ‘the self’. Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfry focus on parts of the brain (brainstem, limbic, and the cortex). Each of these explanations are working models of what actually happens within us as we encounter the world outside of us.
These different parts of us are basically neural pathways we have developed over time to serve a purpose.
I remember the tension I felt as a kid knowing my dad would be home soon. I became nervous and on-edge. Looking back, I recognize that my feelings and behaviors were reactive, which caused me to get into more trouble than if I had been calm. The same edgy feeling arises when I am doing something I am not sure I can do, or when I am uncertain. The result is that I distract myself from the intended task. In the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) this might present as ADD, or to a parent as belligerence, or to a policeman as resisting an officer.
Do you know all of your ‘selves’? Do you understand how they all came to be? These different parts of us are basically neural pathways we have developed over time to serve a purpose. It may be that they’re no longer serving us as well as they could. We have the opportunity to recognize all of our ‘selves’ with compassion, which allows us to be more conscious of what we are bringing to the world.