End the War with Parts of Yourself

By Audrey Seymour

Every part of you contributes to your magnificence. What parts are you splitting off and judging as bad, wrong, or not enough? It might be your wounded parts, your people-pleaser, your arrogant parts or even your inner critic that you judge as an obstacle to your success as a change agent.

It is not the parts themselves but rather judging them that creates the biggest obstacle to fulfilling your purpose in the world, because judging any part of yourself causes the conflict of an inner split. Other obstacles such as lack of skill and experience are relatively minor in comparison, since they can be remedied with training or mentoring.

One way this inner split shows up is judging part of yourself as inadequate or shameful, and therefore ripe for rejection by your tribe. Sound familiar? In this condition, you cannot fully trust yourself or follow the complete calling of your heart. You are always suppressing part of your life force and who you really are.

The costs are not only the loss of your gifts for yourself and the world, but there is a financial cost if you feel you are not enough to do what you came here to do. Apart from the delayed income, unnecessary costs come from the mindset of “If I just take this one additional training then I’ll have enough credentials to make a difference” or “I can’t serve people until I’ve healed this next set of wounds/behaviors I’ve discovered.” The truth is, if you follow your heart you’ll know that you have much to offer exactly the way you are.

At the same time, in order to transform the world, you must be transformed into the ultimate vehicle of your purpose.

How do you walk that dynamic balance of evolving without judging the way you are right now?

The solution to this dilemma is to make peace with your least favorite parts to discover their innate purpose and help them express it in a skillful win-win way. As you see their actual intention, your reactivity around their behaviors has room to ease into compassion and support.

Unpopular parts typically land in two categories, the wounded parts and the protective/aggressive parts. Today I’ll focus on integrating the protective/aggressive type of part. When an inner voice is belittling you, it’s easy to forget that it doesn’t want to sabotage your process. The voice is just trying to serve you, however unskillfully.

When I took my first coach training back in 2003, it was fashionable to try to get rid of certain harsh parts such as the inner critic. If you tried that approach, I’m guessing that you discovered what many of us did – that it doesn’t work!

Trying to bully or erase an inner voice just causes it to either dig its heels in more forcefully, or to go underground where it can pop up and act out in the most inconvenient times. Ultimately, the only strategy that will work is to build an appreciative and mutually supportive relationship with these voices.

An easy way to have a transformative inner dialogue with a challenging part of yourself is to write it out like a chat. Here’s an example that models the key principles of appreciation, discovery and supportive negotiation with a protective/aggressive part:

Jane: I’d like to talk to my inner Drill Sergeant.

Drill Sergeant: Yeah? Whaddya want?

Jane: I appreciate that you must care enough to try to make me a better person, but I’m having trouble feeling cared about by you, you’ve been so rough with me. Tell me, why do you treat me the way you do?

Drill Sergeant: Well, you modeled me after your Dad. Remember how he was proud of his military discipline, and how upset he was when you weren’t ready on time? I was created to be sure that you were never late again, ever. I yell at you so he doesn’t have to.

Jane: Ah! So what’s important about that? What do you really want for me?

Drill Sergeant: I want you to be predictable and dependable and to have an orderly life. I know that’s the way to peace and happiness.

Jane: Ah! I appreciate that you want me to be peaceful and happy. But do you think your methods are working? Do I seem to be peaceful and happy from your yelling about being on time?

Drill Sergeant: Um, well, actually no, now that you put it that way. Hmm.

Jane: If we could together work out another way for me to have a predictable orderly life that left me feeling peaceful and happy, would you be interested?

Drill Sergeant: Well, when you put it that way, that sounds great. Any ideas?

Jane: How about if I promise to allow a bit more extra time in my schedule for more effective planning. If I did that, what role would you like?

Drill Sergeant: I would like to be the one who would ask you “Did you allow enough time, realistically, to get that done or get ready?” or something like that.

Jane: Great, that would be wonderful. What new name would you like to go along with your new role?

Drill Sergeant: How about “Time Planner” – I’d like that name.

Jane: Excellent! I look forward to our new relationship.

Drill Sergeant: But if you backslide, I’ll start yelling again…

Jane: Okay, fair enough! Let’s check in again in a week and see how we did. Thanks and catch you later!

What well-intentioned parts of you are still at war, and where is there room to negotiate a new relationship?