Issue 9 February 2004
Know Your Selves
An explanation to help you Understand Yourself and
How your Life and Relationships are Created
– The Crucial Key –
You are not what you seem to be. Or, perhaps more accurately, you are far more than you have ever experienced yourself to be. Within you right now, exist undreamed of talents and abilities. They are simply waiting for the correct call, to bring them to the surface and enrich your life in a way that will thrill and amaze you. These are called the “selves”, and they are all individual structures within your personality. Understand them and you will forever have the key to successful relationships.
When you were born, you were completely vulnerable, a helpless infant, dependent upon others to feed, clothe, protect and nurture you. When you were properly cared for, you were filled with joy. Your little being radiated unconditional love. In fact you are still today radiating unconditional love, because it is what you are at essence. But your ability to express real love has been severely suppressed by what has happened to you.
As you grew, you realised, through direct experience, that the world was not filled with unconditionally loving beings. Many people, including those close to you, were stressed and expressing negative emotion. The daily chores were too much for them, or they were not particularly intelligent and, in their own minds, they were losing at the game of life.
In this state they became despondent, angry and full of pain. They may have tried to hide it from you, but you, with your young mind, could see what was really going on. Or they may have even used you as a dumping ground for their negativity and frustrations. You may have been abused, physically or psychologically. As well, you found that the world itself was full of dangers, not only from the natural world, but also from the products of civilisation.
You had to defend yourself. You did this by building up a shield in your system, that became your protection for your survival and well being. This protective covering was both positive and negative and everything in between. It was what you used to express yourself, it was the mask you wore, and still wear to this very day. And it is this mask that you still communicate through in all your relationships.
Because of its familiarity, you feel it is the person you actually are. But the word ‘mask’ comes from the word ‘persona’, which you experience as your ‘personness’ or ‘personality’. Your personality is just a mask worn by the Self. It is your identification with the personality rather than the Self which creates a duality rather than an integrity in your system. There is nothing right or wrong about this, it is just the way life works.
The key for you is to understand it and embrace all of it, and by doing so integrate yourself and so move to what you truly are. This reintegration is the great opportunity of relationship. And only this will give you excellent relationships. All problems in relationship arise because people hang onto identifying with, and protecting, the personality, rather than the Self. It blocks their ability to feel real love.
Your personality is a multi-faceted faculty. It is made up of many different parts, each with its own identity and individuality. You can see this multitude of different selves in your own life. The way you relate to your lover is different to the way you relate to your parents or friends. The way you relate to your boss is different to the way you relate to your siblings. The energy you feel when you are making love is different to the one you express when you are playing sport or studying for an exam.
Previously, it was thought that these were just different expressions of one personality structure, but now we know, thanks in particular to the work of Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, that there are myriads of actual individual structures called “subpersonalities”, that, together, make up what we refer to as the personality.
It is the force of survival that builds your personality. For the first few months of your life, you believe you actually are your mother. This is because you have been in her womb, hearing her voice, feeling her emotions, living there through all her actions and interactions. To your baby mind, you and she are one. She was not only the source of your life she was the sustainer of your life, with her feeding, caring and nurturing of you. When you were in her arms, if she rejected any behaviour you expressed, or even if she was worried about something, and was not giving you unconditional love, it felt like death to you.
And anyone else who did not treat you with love was also a threat. So you started the process of building a defence structure around your vulnerability. It was the only way you could live, in the jungle of life. This is the ordinary development process of every human being. And it affects your whole life.
From infancy onwards, you tried a continual variety of behaviour patterns and modes of self expression. Some of these are rejected, by those who bring you up, some are accepted and appreciated. It is these latter which you eventually retain. For instance, if you were praised by a parent for great school work, that spells security and survival to you, so you keep that behaviour of a good student. It becomes a “self”.
If you express anger and that is frowned upon or you are punished for it, then you avoid expressing anger as it threatens your survival. It is still a ‘self’, but it is suppressed, maybe bursting to the surface at inopportune times.
Each mode of expression you have is an individual self. You have several different selves, such as a Perfectionist, an Analyst, an Inner Critic, a Pusher, a Clown, a Slave, a Pleaser, an Aggressor, a Manipulator, a Couch Potato, a Playful one and so on.
You also have those multitude of selves which you tried to express, but they were rejected. These are called “disowned selves”. They still live in your subconscious, motivating you, because that which you disown and suppress, you bring into your life. If you find someone fascinating, it is because you have an identical self within you, which is buried.
For instance, a very hard-nosed businessman, who has suppressed his feminine self, with its gentleness, caring and sensitivity, will find himself fascinated and strongly attracted to a very feminine woman, who has never expressed her tough, ruthless side. She too, will find him attractive, because he represents to her, everything she is disowning in her own personality. (We have a quiz for you at the end of this article, so you can discover what it is you are suppressing within yourself).
How to have a Successful Relationship
Before you can successfully relate with another person at a deep and meaningful level, you need to become conscious of which of these selves you are expressing, at any particular time. For they are the actual parts of you, which you relate with, in your relationship. This may require a radical leap in your thinking, but it is the only solution to understanding other people.
Nobody is a single personality. If you believe that, then you will be unprepared when your partner suddenly starts to express themselves in a totally different way. Sometimes, when a partner does this, it seems almost as if a new person is in the relationship with you. Which, in a way, is in fact true, because each subpersonality is a person it itself. It can be a shock, a surprise or a relief, to find there is more to your partner than you originally realised.
Interestingly, many solicitors, specialising in divorce, say the most common remark people give about their partners, when asking for a divorce was: “I never really knew they were like that underneath “.
Their partner had suddenly started to express themselves in a new and different way, and the person did not realise it wasn’t that they were really like that”, but that they were merely expressing another self. They were no more that self than the original one they were expressing. They did not understand this, and thought they had married the wrong person. Had they hung on, using correct processes, that would have passed and more subpersonalities would have arisen.
In a long term relationship, the expression of all parts of a person is encouraged. Instead of this being a difficulty, it becomes a great benefit to you both. You are not going to be stuck with some one dimensional lemon all your life. The person you are with, whether they realise it or not, is filled with a vast smorgasbord of selves, each one a whole person in itself, with all its uniqueness and behaviours. Many of them are deeply interesting and fun filled. Others are serious and sad. Some are young and old, wise and stupid. There are countless different types that make you up. It is these that good actors get in touch with, when they play different roles.
Your whole personality can be compared to a cut and polished diamond, which has many faces. Each face of the diamond is individual. It can be seen and identified. But each one is always an integral part of the whole. Each ‘face’ is a unique, individual ‘self’. They have their own history, memories, agendas, desires, emotions and abilities and ways of expressing themselves.
This is the joy of relationship – discovering your own and your partners selves, and letting them express themselves as they wish. It is truly enriching and fulfilling in ways that are stunning and powerful. It is the path of consciousness.
As you read this, there are several selves within you reading along with the part of you which is ‘out front’ doing the reading. And, there are dozens more, existing deeply within you, motivating you and causing you to make choices which will either allow them expression, or ensure they stay buried. To know your Self, you have to know your ‘selves’ first.
By the way, this is nothing to do with a split personality, which is a clinical condition, usually based on severe trauma in childhood. No, it is the normal state of every human being. We are all made up of many selves. The problem is that few people are aware of it, they believe that they are just one personality. But this is the cause of all confusions in relationships. Knowing otherwise, through direct experience, is the ever enriching experience of a great relationship.
Getting to know these parts, integrating and embracing them, is the key to not only a completely fulfilling life, but also the highest state of spiritual enlightenment. Not knowing them is an unwise way to live, because your life will be limited, your personal relationships unfulfilling, and your creative and spiritual powers blocked and sabotaged. You will be using up a lot of energy to suppress the disowned selves, and that will make you less attractive. The word attractive has attr – active in it. To be attractive, you have to have an active energy system. It is your energy which attracts other people to you, and keeps them there.
And yet it is so simple to make profound and ecstatic changes, once you understand that you are far more than you have ever considered yourself to be. Knowledge of the true form of your personality is the essential means to ensure your relationships will be fulfilling, filled with respect and love, and continue to grow in a way that is necessary for life long pleasure, and insight into the true nature of what you are.
QUIZ: Discover your Disowned Selves
We all hide parts of ourselves from our own consciousness. It is the normal way of growing up in a civilised society. Some modes of expression are too confronting or difficult for others to handle. Some are just unacceptable. We quickly learn which these are and to bury them, as we all want and need to be accepted, especially when we are small children. But these disowned selves – all those parts of our personality we were not allowed to express – still live within us, calling out for recognition and consciousness. How we deal with them is the secret to a successful and fulfilling relationship.
The simplest way to reveal what it is that you are burying within yourself, is by examining your outside life. Because what holds emotion for you externally is often buried internally. And sometimes many of these can hold very strong feelings, opinions and emotions.
Here is a simple quiz you can do, to discover your disowned selves:
Describe the characteristics of:
Your best friend who is not your partner………
The person who you most respect in life……….
The person you get on best with at work……….
The person who irritates you the most at work…………
The person in life who has really rubbed you the wrong way……….
The people whose behaviours you find immoral or disgraceful……….
The person who has confronted you the most………..
The person you are romantically or physically attracted to ……….
Your closest relationship…………
Each of these is in actual fact a representative of a disowned part of yourself. You are drawn to such people in your life as a means of attempting to integrate these suppressed selves. All of us need to learn to accept these parts of ourselves. If we don’t, we will keep attracting into our lives people who will live them for us. We are all made up of everything. Accepting this, and being able to embrace and direct all these selves, is the easiest means of discovering your true Self.