How often does
a well-intentioned, distrustful false self guide you? How
the quality of your daily life and relationships?
Subselves Arguing vs. Blending
you feel that
your Self is disabled, get clear on whether (a) several parts are
(causing "uproar"), or (b) one or more parts has blended with (taken over)
your Self; or (c) both. "Uproar" is like students in a classroom rioting
with the teacher still free to lead. If you have emotions like the above and
are having trouble concentrating because of several competing "inner
voices," you're probably not blended.
Have you ever been a
real-life group where several kids and/or adults were talking or arguing at
once? If so, was there a leader who was able to quiet everyone down firmly
and respectfully and refocus them? If so, recall what s/he said and did.
Watch for examples of this leadership skill in your daily life. Perhaps you
have ewxpoerie3nce at keeping order and fdocusi9ng a group.
Your true Self has the
natural motivation and ability to stop inner conflicts and debates. and get
your active subselves focused on prioritizing and filling their needs in
order. The next time you experience "inner babbling," experie3ment with
list of your Inner Kids, Guardians, and Manager subselves per
in solitary and social situations;
without blame or guilt "Some (of
my) subselves are arguing and distracting me. I need to quiet and
focus them." Note how different this feels than "I can't concentrate."
your Self to take charge and provide direction, and take several
comfortable deep breaths from your belly.
imagine all your subselves in a group, with you (your Self) as the
leader. Recall that you can't see your Self - s/he is the one looking at
imagine a strong real or imaginary non-violent supporter (e.g. a
"peaceful warrior") standing beside you (your Self) as you take the
wisdom to suggest a way of catching your noisy subselves' attention.
Draw on real-life experience or on examples you've read, herd, or seen.
For example, imagine..:
a bell, blowing a horn, and/or banging something
confronting each of the loudest subselves and saying firmly "Please
be quiet." Expect "resistance," and be prepared to calmly repeat
this attention-getting several times.
subselves will either quiet down or they won't. If they won't,
identify the most resistant ones and commit to doing patient
trust-building work with each of them later. If they do quiet
down, ask the group for cooperation (in your mind) by saying something
"You each have legitimate needs and feelings now. If you all talk at
once, none of us can get our needs met. I need you to talk one at a
time, so we can learn to
together. Will you help me do that for all our sakes?"
We just reviewed a way to regain
Self-control from several subselves arguing and talking at once. The
other cause of inner distraction and defocusing occurs when an excited,
distrustful Inner Child or Guardian subself has blended with your Self. If
you don't feel the traits of true-Self leadership, experiment with this:
Freeing Your True Self
If your Self is
blended (disabled), it usually means that one or more other
subselves need some-thing important and they don't trust your
subselves to fill their need. These subselves
are probably scared, hurt, shamed, confused, or protectively angry. Neither
they nor their neediness are "bad"!
Check your attitude:
if you believe "I can learn to replace blending and inner-family
anarchy with Self-trust and harmony," go ahead. If not, seek to meet the
part who brings you that protective
and patiently negotiate to replace it with trust.
Go inside, and imagine
or vision your Self in a state of blending. Recall how it feels when your
Self is free to lead (the box above), and/or imagine the effective group
leader you chose as a model. As your unblended Self or excellent leader would do, directly and
respectfully ask the part/s who are blending to trust you (your Self), and
"step aside" or "move nearby." If they do, notice how
your feelings and thoughts change. Thank them, and see what they need now.
If they donít
step aside, compassionately accept this as a signal of their fear and
protective distrust. Be alert at this point for another subself - e.g. your
Inner Critic starting to badmouth the distrustful Guardian and/or young subself (symptoms: blameful thoughts or
angry feelings). If this happens, (a) clearly acknowledge the critic ["You
really dislike and disrespect (the distrustful part/s) for taking over control
now..."], and (b) firmly ask the critical subself to stop doing that now because it
If more than one subself is blending, focus on
one at a time. Seek to learn clearly what they
each need now. Listen
and patiently to what they say,
them an undistracted chance to write, draw, yell, cry, or otherwise
When you feel
clear on what the controlling subselves feel and/or need, describe
that to them clearly and simply ("You feel hopeless and really scared
that weíll never have any real friends - so weíll be alone forever.") Note their reaction. My steady experience is that
once such activated narrow-focused
subselves feel respectfully noticed and heard (vs.
agreed with), they will usually "step aside" from your Self.
Pause, breathe, and note
your thoughts now. If they're something like "I can't do that," "I don't
think this will work," "or "Talking to subselves is silly," know that
your protective Cynic, Pessimist, and/or Doubter subselves are on the job.
them, and mentally ask them to let your Self decide whether this
inner-focusing technique is worth experimenting with.
Another powerful parts-work technique is...
therapy client Iíll
call Jack had been abandoned early by his (psychologically-wounded) mother, raised by a
highly critical grandmother and uncle, and spent most childhood years in two
stern Midwestern Catholic schools. We were working toward healing his
anxiety, distrusts, and pervasive shame.
Over time, Jack had evolved
comfortable awareness of
about 15 subselves, including a frightened, lonely pre-teen boy part he called
"Little Jack". He also discovered a powerful adult male Guardian
he named "Billy", who reminded him of an iron-strong, resourceful character in the movie "The Dream Team". These parts
had become quite real to Jack.
session, Jack tearfully described a powerfully shaming fifth-grade
experience. Heíd been called up in front of two combined classes to recite a
poem which he had not memorized. As this became obvious, the nun in charge sarcastically ridiculed and mocked
him by the ear, and led him past his smirking classmates into a coatroom at
the back of the room.
There (as he remembered), she continued to
belittle him loud enough for all to hear, and at one point angrily slammed his head against the wall. It
was a shattering experience, in part because when he told his grandmother
later, she angrily said "Donít you whine to me, young man - you must
have deserved what you got!"
Jack could not recall having
ever felt protected or valued as a child. This was having a major (negative)
effect on his current adult relationships.
(his Self and all vocal parts) courageously agreed to try
re-living the old poetry-class trauma in a new way. I asked "who would
you like to protect Little Jack from the shaming he received?" The
bearded, slender man thought. "Iíd like Billy, ... my Self, and ...
you" (Iím 6í 1" and 215 lbs). I warmly agreed.
Jack got quiet,
went inside, and focused on the memory of the old classroom full of
students. I suggested he take all the time he needed to note the details:
the sounds and smells, the colors, the temperature and time of day, the feel
of the chair he was sitting in, and what he was wearing.
He described these clearly,
in a quiet voice. I asked Jackís Self to stand in the cloakroom with Billy
and me, first looking at us, then out at the class. He did, describing us
two men and then seeing the back of Little Jackís head, and the teacherís
features, voice, and actions. He named several of the students in the class,
and recalled hearing a distant bell.
The scene unfolded, as it had
countless times in Jackís memory - shaming him anew each time. This time,
however, when the woman dragged the shaking boy into the coatroom, she met
grown men there. Jack had said earlier he wanted Billy to take the lead. He
did - sternly confronting the surprised teacher. Billy told her to let go of
Little Jack, and put his arm around the boy.
Jack, his eyes
in Billyís powerful voice in the therapy room. It was notably deeper and
stronger than the voice he usually used. He spoke to the nun real time,
telling her that she was abusing Jack, and that he would not tolerate that -
now or ever again. Jack described her as protesting righteously and indignantly.
I asked him "What would Billy say?"
Billy (in Jackís words)
firmly told her to go back in front of the class and apologize to them and
to Little Jack for what sheíd done. She fumed and resisted, and he
re-asserted. "Howís Little Jack?" I asked. "Heís stunned! Heís just standing next to Billy with his mouth open."
Eyes still closed, the man on
my couch described the woman going to the front of the class and apologizing
haltingly. At Billyís demand, she introduced him, me, and Jackís Self to
the children, and said that weíd come to "take care" of Jack.
Billy told her and the class "Iím going to be around from now on. If
you donít believe that, just test me out."
Jack the real man was crying
on my couch, and shaking his head as he described this new outcome to the
hateful old experience. After a few minutes of quiet and collecting, he
opened his eyes. I asked what he was aware of. "Little Jack feels
different. I feel different! Iíve never felt anything like that before in
my life..." He seemed awed. I said "Your Self and mine just led us
in re-doing a powerful
shaming experience you've remembered all these years."
You can do this
with any painful memory you choose, if you prepare well
and all your subselves
feel safe enough. Note that not all re-doings are as dramatic
sessions, we re-did several other shaming and terrifying experiences that
Jack recalled - including him at five years old finding his gruff, scary
uncle dead in the man's bedroom. Some months later, (adult) Jack
spontaneously described these re-doings as "life-changing" events for him.
Prior to the re-doing, Little Jack
had lived in the past, believing he was all alone. Later, he shifted to
living in the present with Jackís other subselves - his newfound (and first)
This example shows the main
steps in re-doing. The purpose of this inner-family technique is to give a
wholistically-healthier outcome experience to remembered traumatic
events. This is not magic, and it obviously doesnít change the past.
Re-doing can be a powerful healing technique, in proportion to your abilities to own your
subselves (accept their reality), and to immerse yourself in key past
Become thoroughly clear on all these
steps before you consider a re-doing.
Preparation is essential - e.g. the
example above took at least 10 hours of inner-family sessions, plus Jack's
"homework" experiences, over almost three months.
time, clearly establish the
identity and traits of each of your key subselves. Work patiently to reduce any subselvesí ambivalence
or doubt about all your partsí reality and normalcy;
If necessary, adjust your
to include the real possibility that this can be a safe new feeling
(vs. mental) experience. Adjusting your beliefs can mean working with one or
more Kids or Guardians to
have them unblend, (above), and
trust that your Self and other
Higher Power, and any consultants you're using, will keep everyone
safe, and no one will lose their
the specific young subselves that carry your
time, help them meet and accept your Self, other subselves (like Billy, above),
your Higher Power, and any outer-family nurturers (like me, above). When
it feels right, pick one or a few Inner Kids to
work with in a re-doing experience, and prepare:
Focus on a childhood or adult trauma that
affects the young subself.
A "trauma" is any event that caused you (vs. someone you
were with) intense emotional + physical + spiritual
injury, terror, confusion,
Focus on one specific trauma at a time - not
on (for example) "my whole rotten fourth-grade year" or
"the summer vacation from hell."
Build a (small)
team. Identify one or more trusted strong, nurturing subselves. These are
usually, but not always, adults. Consider including
any special real or mythical hero/ines as possible members of your
team. Also consider safe professional helpers, and key trusted,
well-grounded, outside partners, friends or kin. See if each candidate
subself (a) knows the young part/s you've chosen, and (b) is
willing to participate in a re-doing experience with them. Respect any
6) Inside and
outside, everyone get clear on why
youíre going to re-do the selected traumatic memory, and generally how.
Who will do the talking or lead the action? Whatís the main job of each
team member? In the example above, Jackís Self was the delegating
leader. He and "I" were there for backup and moral support,
while Billy was the lead asserter.
- these are steps to follow in the parts-work technique of "re-doing."
7) Avoid planning to kill,
harm, or abuse any "bad" people in the remembered event.
This technique is not about fostering violence or revenge as a way of healing
and problem solving. Re-doing is about you experiencing healthy
limit-setting, respectful assertion, and loving nurturance and
The first times
you prepare to re-do,
check carefully to see if there are any Guardians who are protectively
the project. If so,
work with each one patiently to gain their trust and support. Appeal to them to trust
you (your Self), and to just try re-doing to see what happens.
If any subself too scared by
re-doing, donít force it. Work respectfully and patiently
with them to find a safe-enough way for them to try this learning
experience. Encourage a calm, open-minded "letís see what happens"
attitude among all team members, vs. expecting "miracles" or
a safe comfortable, distraction-free place and time to have the
experience. Ideally, your site should be one where - if needed -
you can yell or cry without worrying about disturbing other people.
Weigh the pros and cons of being in the same location as the original
trauma, if that's an option. Allocate enough time, including time
afterward to debrief and integrate your experience. If you need some
resources (journal, stuffed animal, water, background sounds,
tape recorder), gather them.
10) When it feels right, let your young subselves know in advance generally what
youíre doing, and why. Note their reactions, answer questions, and agree
on how to involve them - including as observers, vs. participants. Offer appropriate reassurances.
Option - call an
inner council meeting (p. 6) so
everyone knows what's going to happen, who's in charge, and why.
11) If youíre using an
outside helper, get clear together on his or her role/s. Do you want them to
actively coach? Silently support? Be careful about physical closeness
and contact - even reassuring touching can distract from your inner
Breathe well. Get centered (check for
eyes if you wish, focus on the remembered image of the traumatic
event, and invite your team members to "be there."
Play out the event, and have your lead subselves generate a safer, more satisfying outcome together.
Take your time. Allow anything to happen that "wants to." If
subselves want to
comment as the re-doing unfolds, ask
them to wait until
When everyone involved
feels "done enough," return your focus and energy to your real-world
setting. Breathe well, stretch, and get back into your body. Debrief your inner family and any outer helper/s when you
feel centered. Note specially
how your Inner Child/ren seem to be. Recap what you did, why, and what
you experienced. Ask yourself objectively "What am I aware of
now?" and (later) "What did I (we) learn here?" Check
to learn their reactions
without arguing or explaining.
other than these preparation guidelines,
there is no "right way" to re-do. There are only new experiences,
awarenesses, and learnings. If "nothing" seemed to happen, or if
you were distracted by
"mind-racing," "blankness," or
"feeling nothing," learn
from these reactions. Seek to identify what parts
are linked such reactions, like a protective
and work patiently to gain their
trust and co-operation.
Thank and appreciate any
subselves and helpers involved in each re-doing, as
appropriate. Be aware that some healing
reactions may evolve later. If it fits, journal
or tape record commentary soon after a re-doing experience for later
reflection. Invite all your parts to
comment, including physical sensations, pictures, sounds, images, and new
inner-family experience, notice nonjudgmentally where your thoughts
and feelings are. Is your Self
inner family now? Coach yourself to practice
this re-doing technique without needing to be perfect.
Each time you do, you'll increase your wisdom, skill, and confidence.
+ + +
We just reviewed the powerful
parts-work technique called re-doing - internally re-experiencing of
a remembered trauma and intentionally promoting a healthier outcome. The
goal of most re-doings is to relieve one or more
Inner Kids of their old burdens of terror, guilt, shame, and hopelessness,
and to help them express what they couldn't express in real life.
Pause, breathe, and take stock - can you think of any old or recent traumas
that repeatedly cause your subselves significant inner pain? Can you imagine
planning and trying a corrective re-doing? If not (yet), who's in the way?
Another powerful parts-work technique is...
Subselves Living in the Past
Most of the people I've done parts work with have discovered one or more
subselves who believe they're living in a past traumatic (e.g. childhood)
time. Initial inner interviews should routinely include your Self or outer consultant asking "Can you tell me what
year it is? Trust your first response..." - and being prepared for something
clinical colleagues report the same experience with most of their
parts-work clients. Inner-family harmony,
security, and serenity grow as all subselves choose to live together in the
present time. This powerful technique facilitates achieving that
logic-worshipping left-brained (unrecovering) ex-engineer, I was skeptical
when I first heard this inner-family concept - i.e. my protective
activated. After practicing and experiencing parts work since 1992, I now believe that most
of significant childhood trauma have one or more
subselves who need to distort reality and live "back
Such parts are typically
Inner Kids and perhaps their
devoted Guardians. Because these subselves lack clear perspective on
what was vs. what is now, their reactions to current life
events can cause significant
news: with patience, compassion, and sensitivity, such misinformed subselves can
be helped to permanently
migrate and join their other subselves and host person in the present.
Before reading how,
your reactions to the idea of rescuing some subselves living in the
you have a skeptical
inner voice, acknowledge it affectionately. Itís probably a steadfast Guardian
working to shield your Inner Kids from unsafe risk. Muse a little - if you
do have one or more subselves who live in the past, who would they be? Is
there a risk in discovering them? What? How might your life feel different if they joined you all in the present?
Intuition counts here.
experience is itís unwise to try rescuing too soon in the flow of your parts
work. Give yourself plenty of time to get familiar with your parts roster
and to learn how to communicate well with your inner team - specially
Allow time to
evolve your own comfortable style of doing this work. Effective partsí rescues hinge on
patiently establishing inner trusts, safeties, and realistic expectations.
If you suffered
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma), it may take weeks of parts work before you (all) feel
ready to rescue subselves living in the
past. If youíre uncertain, listen
for the clear guidance of your "still, small voice." Trust and
The biggest clues that an
subself is absent (living in the past) are notably inappropriate reactions to certain current inner and outer events, like weeping or
rage "attacks," situational amnesia, and some physical reactions. These behavior patterns are
often mis-described as obsessions, compulsions, impulses, addictions, "mood
disorders," and denials,
rather than symptoms.
Despite her partnerís
verbal and behavioral assurances, a woman canít quell major fears that he
really doesnít love her and will eventually choose someone else. Her
insecurity, distrust, and
increasingly strain their relationship;
A clearly successful salesman canít
acknowledge or enjoy his achievements, and feels relentlessly driven to "do better!";
A mother is constantly
overanxious about her competent grown daughterís welfare, and remains
intrusive, controlling, and
with her despite her daughterís exasperated pro-tests and
A young father swears heíll
his children the way his own father did - yet despairingly
acknowledges "Iím blowing up just like Dad did!"
An attractive single woman
cycles thru repeated
relationships. "Something goes wrong" before or after engagement, and
she always breaks up, despite longing for marriage and her own home and family.
well-trained marketing executive develops an embarrassing stutter when she
makes follow-up calls to some new male clients. Her efforts to
control the stutter fail;
A single woman in her 30ís
reports a recurring strong feeling of dread around mid-afternoon, and a
powerful compulsion to "get home" - though thereís no
practical reason to do so;
A grandfather describes a
recurring life-long nightmare of being attacked in a forest by unseen
wild "things" and being unable to run or hide.