Not Feeling Like Yourself? Psychology Says It's Not You
It's another 'you' or maybe 'lots of yous fighting over who gets to be you'.
It's hard to make sense out of, but stay with me and I promise that you'll learn something new. Before I take on the responsibility of explaining this neat concept I learned, allow me to share with you two stories:
Elon Musk, the big guy behind the "launch a car to Mars" project (this isn't the official name of the project, in case you were wondering), was afraid of the dark as a young boy. Even then, he was quite fond of reading that when he learned that the dark was just the absence of light, his fear of the dark became absurd for him. "Why should I be afraid of the absence of photons?" smart young Elon remarked. Now, unafraid of the darkness that envelopes most of outer space, he blasts off one rocket after another to fulfill his ambition of building the first human settlement in Mars.
Kim Ybañez, known here as @ybanezkim26, was frustrated by the reach that his initial Steemit posts were getting. He knew what his voice was worth. He remained adamant that the platform was the community that he'd like to grow in. With these, he summed all his thoughts in this great write-up: "Snowball Effect: Minnows Like Me Should Continue With Steemit". He continued to write one great piece after another. And just like the snowball that he wrote about, his posts after that epic piece were getting the recognition that they deserved.
What do these stories have to do with what I'm about to share with you? They illustrate a point that would help you understand where I'm coming from: changing our perspectives will lead to a spontaneous change in our behavior.
Before I came across this concept I'm about to share with all of you, I was having trouble with accepting the parts of me that I didn't like. I didn't like that I was emotional - frowned upon by my teachers in college because studying engineering didn't involve feelings. I didn't like that I wasn't working as hard as my peers did - procrastination hit me in the worst of times. In some days, however, I overworked - not closing my laptop or my eyes ever. I didn't like that about me either.
I didn't like those parts of me. I wanted to change and even extinguish them. I tried to, but the fight always ended with me being the loser. Instead of getting more academic work done, the tension cost me my motivation and peace. My mind was a war zone.
I then came across an article by Eric Barker of Barking Up The Wrong Tree entitled "This Is How To Quit Bad Habits Without Willpower: 3 Secrets From Neuroscience." I then had a great Eureka! moment. I didn't have to change the parts of me that I hated nor do I have to get rid of them, I simply have to work my way around them. And of course, before I can work my way around them, I had to get to know them better first.
So to everyone looking to meet the other 'yous', specifically the problematic parts, let's get right to it. Please note that I'm using the pronoun "she" for consistency as I am using my own pictures for illustration purposes. But this dysfunctional family of yous, according to Eric, is present in many forms in most of us. And they serve to help us.
Meet the other yous...
EXILE. Your inner child with fears, shame and hurt.
Who is she? She is what the psychologists refer to as "the inner child." She is the part of you that is in pain, shame, fear or trauma. Eric Barker says that this is the name given by therapists to your deep, dark fears and negative beliefs. She is the part of you that thinks she is stupid, that no one will ever love her. She's the one with trust issues.
Why is she important? Life deals us with bad cards sometimes. These times can hurt us; allowing us to take away lessons that we hold on to for the rest of our lives. Oftentimes, these lessons come with fear. These fears unconsciously guide our actions, often in ways that cause frustration. The exile summons the manager and the firefighter to do their jobs.
MANAGER. Your proactive and sometimes overprotective parent.
Who is she? She is the proactive part of us that manages and even extinguishes our emotional pains out of consciousness. Eric refers to her as the "overprotective parent." She is the part of you that handles the way you interact with the external world to protect you from hurt, pain and trauma. On the extreme, she nags you for not working hard enough, for being weak and for not doing more.
Why is she important? She focuses on motivating you to improve. She says that you have to work hard and to strive to become more productive and socially acceptable. This is useful, especially when you have to do something even when you don't feel like doing it. Like going to work, for example. She can also be extremely controlling. She nags you to keep working. She thinks that if you give in to the fears of the exile, you'd be paralyzed. So she sometimes causes you to do things that aren't even aligned to your goals. According to the Internal Family Systems Training Manual, the manager causes you to be a perfectionist, obsess about appearance, avoid conflict and to try to control and please others.
FIREFIGHTER. Your fierce self who takes things to the extreme.
Who is she? She is the part that takes over when the exile breaks out and asks for attention. She has the same goal as the manager. She distracts you from the hurt or shame the exile experiences by leading you to do impulsive acts like overeating, overworking, overmedicating, violence or having inappropriate sex.
Why is she important? She immediately solves the problem of the exile. Known as the "emergency response worker," she gets activated when the efforts of the manager don't work. She takes extreme measures as she tends to be fierce. According to the Internal Family Systems Training Manual, the firefighter distracts you from the pain and emotions of the exile by going on binge eating, excessive shopping, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, cutting, suicide and even homicide.
I've mentioned the Internal Family Systems Manual twice now. The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is an approach to psychotherapy that views the mind as being made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities. Developed by Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D.; it sees the subpersonalities possessing its own perspectives, interests, memories, viewpoints and qualities.
Dr. Schwartz developed the IFS model when many of his clients describe various parts, often extremely opposite of each other, within themselves. The parts took on characteristic roles that allow his clients to describe what is happening inside their minds. The IFS is a hopeful, non-pathologizing framework that ultimately guides the individual to healing. Healing, in this context, means guiding all of the other parts to the leadership of the "self."
SELF. The confident, open and compassionate you.
Who is she? She acts as the center to which the other parts cluster. She coordinates all of the other parts. Qualities of confidence, curiosity, connectedness, openness and compassion are attributed to her. In the IFS Model therapy, the therapist guides the client to access her true self - to untangle and let go of the destructive, extreme nature of the other three parts.
Why is she important? She is referred to as the "agent of psychological healing." She is the leader of the internal system. Therapists help clients to access her so that the protectors hold their guards down and allow for the hurt and traumatized self to be healed.
Now, you may be thinking that this is all, for lack of a better term, "crazy" stuff. But this approach has been shown to be effective for treating a variety of conditions. Not only does this improve general functioning and well-being; it helps treat depression, phobias, anxiety, panic and even physical health conditions.
Ultimately, adopting this perspective allowed for me to treat myself in a much kinder light. I'm not saying that this post of mine serves as substitute for professional help. I'm no expert in the matter, after all. What I've shown here is another perspective through which you may view yourselves at. At the end of the day, all I want is for you to accept who you are - all the pretty and ugly parts.
Because the feelings one has about one's self are naturally and effortlessly expressed in what one does, according to Stephen Covey. When we treat ourselves kindly, we extend that same kindness to others spontaneously as well.
Barker, E. (2017, December). This Is How To Quit Bad Habits Without Willpower: 3 Secrets From Neuroscience. Retrieved from Barking Up The Wrong Tree: https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2017/12/quit-bad-habits/
Schwartz, R. C. (2017). Evolution of The Internal Family Systems Model. Retrieved from The Center of Self Leadership: https://www.selfleadership.org/about-internal-family-systems.html
All of the photos were taken by Mr. Joel Locaylocay. You can reach him through his website.
Sending you love this hearts day,