Is there a war zone inside your own head? Creating healthy relationships between the different 'voices' within

It's not always obvious, but have you ever been able to distinguish between the different 'voices' that may speak from within you? Let's say you're in a new relationship - there may be the hopeful, confident part that says "This is great - I'm going for it!" There may be another cautious part that's been hurt before, saying "Hmmm looks OK at the moment...but I'm not at all sure s/he's really going to treat me well. Better back off - better safe than sorry!" The cautious part may not trust the hopeful part to have the sense to take it slow. The confident part may feel really annoyed that the cautious part will sabotage her/his chances at love, and either ignore it or speak to that part in a contemptuous manner. Before you know it - your 'inner family system' has a war going on. The result? You may alternate between acting confidently and backing off - much to the confusion of your new partner! If the internal conflict escalates, you might become paralysed - unable to make a decision at all about the future of your new relationship. At the extreme, you might even turn to food, alcohol, working overly long hours or some other means of either trying to make it feel better inside, or avoiding being with your inner selves - after all, it's no fun being in the middle of a battlefield without an escape route!

It can get even more complicated when you and your partner disagree about something - if your partner doesn't perhaps realize that s/he is trying to work things through with different parts of you. S/he may complain that you give mixed messages, that one minute you agree, another you disagree with the same point.

It can be a useful exercse to sit down and work out - what are the different voices that speak within you? What are the relationships like between those voices? Do they all get heard and respected by the 'CEO" part of you - that is, the part that is able to listen to all of the different voices, attend to what they need, and come up with a solution that they can all live with? For example, the person beginning a new relationship, who is able to keep both the cautious and optimistc parts in mind, may be able to develop a way forward where s/he allows for both reserve and hope - taking things slow, but not too slow, and checking in with all parts of her/himself regularly to see how they're all going. If we only listen to some parts of ourself and ignore others - we may miss something really important, either the chance for real love, or the possibility that this person is really not likely to treat us well.

Till next post, Vivienne

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