Enhancing Relationships – Part 1
Hal and Sidra Stone
The Voice Dialogue process involves working directly with one’s various selves. It is deceptively simple and surprisingly powerful. It can be especially helpful to use in relationship, because it gives people the opportunity to communicate safely with one another’s selves. When Voice Dialogue is used in relationship, it enables individuals to have direct experience of, and to broaden their understanding of their own selves, the selves in other people, and of the bonding patterns that seem to run their lives.
Needless to say, this promotes intense intimacy and a most thorough understanding of one another, and of one another’s process. However, as in any kind of exploration, one does not know exactly what might come up. Reading our book and receiving training from a therapist and/or teacher who does Voice Dialogue training is what we would recommend for anyone who is interested in learning about this process. Even though you might not actually be able to practice Voice Dialogue, you can use your understanding of selves to greatly enhance the communication process between yourself and others.
Let us say that Barbara and Norman have gone to a party.
Barbara is feeling somewhat withdrawn afterwards, and Norman asks her what is wrong. She says that nothing is wrong. Norman senses her withdrawal and, utilizing his understanding of subpersonalities, asks her how her little girl is doing. With this, she bursts into tears and all of her feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy come pouring out. Without the knowledge that there is a vulnerable child within each of us, Norman might have simply been put off by Barbara’s withdrawal. His own feelings could have been hurt, and the two of them would have been off and running toward a bonding pattern where blame and recrimination ruled the communication.
Jean and Bob go to a movie and Bob feels very depressed afterwards. He has a hard time expressing his feelings. If Jean was to ask him what he was feeling, little would be expressed, because he really doesn’t know. However, if she was aware of the selves, she could ask Bob to get in touch with them and see how each of them feels.
The theme of the film was the portrayal of a man who was dying of cancer. Jean asks Bob if he can get in touch with the part of himself that is afraid of dying. He is able to do this, and it is as though he is able to speak from this place. Then he realizes that it is not dying that he fears, but rather being crippled or mutilated, being unable to function physically.
Jean then asks Bob whether there is a part of him that is specifically afraid of cancer. He is shocked at this but soon is able to get in touch with the part of him that has always been terrified of getting cancer. Several members of his family have died of cancer, and he, or a part of him, has had this fear from the time he was twenty, when his mother died.
It is very often a deep relief to realize that there are different parts of us, that these different parts feel and think quite differently about things, and that this is perfectly normal and natural.