Rather than thinking of ourselves as having one coherent personality, it might be closer to our subjective experience to think of ourselves as made up of many different selves or parts, which collectively create what we may call I. Instead of imagining I as one consistent set of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and physical reactions, there might actually be many different facets to this I. Each facet functions like an independent iceberg (refer to ‘The Needy Iceberg’ for more information), equipped with its own set of thoughts, beliefs, values, and even behaviours.
We hear our inner parts argue and debate and comment inside our head all day long:
‘You should have done the shopping before work — I knew it was going to be too late to get this done in time before dinner. Now, look at the mess. We’ll have to do frozen pizza again, and this is exactly what you promised you wouldn’t do anymore.’
‘Hello gorgeous! You are looking amazing today. I must say the blue really suits your hair colour well. Do remember to call the hairdresser, you need a trim before the meeting on Thursday!’
‘She hasn’t called… I can’t believe she hasn’t called: The paper wasn’t good enough. You didn’t go the extra mile — you just had to cut the corner, didn’t you!’
‘Do you see the dress on that woman? Makes her ass look fat. Ah — now look who is talking. The scale this morning didn’t exactly give you the green light for the croissant you gulped down with the cappuccino, did it!’
What we call I is the combination of all of these voices or selves and the interaction between them. It is this multi-facet-ness of personality that Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, the creators of The Psychology of Selves, explore with the methodology they coined Voice Dialogue.
Before you get concerned that speaking in ‘voices’ could mean you’re schizophrenic, or that acknowledging different selves could trigger multiple personality disorder, let me assure you that Voice Dialogue has no such power. The different selves as explored through Voice Dialogue can be understood as metaphors. The process of Voice Dialogue, of speaking with these selves, can bring astonishing insight into the what and why of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. In upcoming snippets, we will explore the methodology and insights that can be derived from Voice Dialogue.
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