If you look at your passport or your driving license you can see your name and your photo. Even if the photo is bad you can tell that it is you.
You appear to be just one person. But is that true?
On the outside you may project an image of calm, capability, or one of the other ways we like to present ourselves to the world. Behind the eyes and beneath the skin it can be a different story.
Have you ever said or heard someone else say?
- I am not good enough
- There is something wrong with me
- I can’t forgive myself
- Nobody loves me
- I hate myself
Each of these statements is about an ‘I’,’me’ or ‘myself’. They speak about our identity, who we are.
Beneath what we hope are our socially acceptable exteriors there may be parts of ourselves that are not happy.
These parts: the ‘I’ in “I’m not good enough”, the ‘me’ in “Nobody loves me” and the ‘I’ and ‘myself’ in “I hate myself” are sometimes known as sub-personalities. Sub-personalities are parts of our inner selves that step up and wear the mask of our outer selves.
These parts of ourselves are usually suffering.
The ‘I’ in I’m not good enough is not having a good time.
The ‘me’ in “Nobody loves me” feels distress.
The ‘I’ and ‘myself’ in “I hate myself” are both feeling stressed.
These parts of ourselves are often formed in childhood at times of stress. They carry what they felt, thought and did at that time through life in a capsule of that stress and distress.
You may also remember times when it felt as if a younger part of yourself took control of your adult self. It’s as if you had been hijacked by a terrified child or angry teenager. If you’ve had this experience you have felt the presence of a sub-personality.
It’s bad enough that we can carry these pockets of stress and distress within ourselves, but it gets worse.
These sub-personalities can influence how we think, feel and act in our adult world.
If you have a sub-personality based around “I am not good enough” it is going to influence your behaviour to ‘prove’ itself right.
- You may find ways not to measure up. You could fail exams, choose romantic partners who agree that you are not good enough, mess up projects that seem to be going well.
- You may make sure that you avoid situations where you might be good enough. You might ‘miss’ the interview for the better job, reject promising romantic partners or avoid important projects.
If you have a sub-personality based around “Nobody loves me”, it will influence your life in many ways. Perhaps directing you to relationships with people who don’t love you, or making you avoid any love that comes your way.
It’s like having a faulty GPS in your car.
The map in the Sat Nav is convincing, but wrong. It tells you about roadblocks, diversions, hazards and where you can, or cannot, go.
Even if those problems don’t exist in the real world, we feel compelled to follow our inner Sat Nav even if it takes us where we don’t want to go.
Even if you want to change these parts of yourself it’s not easy. Because sub-personalities are so entrenched in our minds and brains they resist our efforts to help them.
- They are deep rooted. Usually these sub-personalities form early in life, you may not even remember how, or when, they came into being. They are so much part of the fabric of your being that you might not even notice they are there.
- They are powerful. It is hard to succeed if a part of you is convinced that you are a failure.
- They are resilient. A sub-personality formed at the age of two can be just as powerful when you are thirty, fifty or eighty.
- You can’t reassure them away. If you have ever tried to console somebody who thinks nobody loves them, or they are not good enough, you know it is hard work. You may find that even if you calm them for a while, those unhappy states will soon be back.
- Talking about them doesn’t help much. You may have talked about being not good enough, nobody loves me, I’m alone, etc, to your friends or spouse. You may even have counselling about it. No matter how long you talked and whatever insights and understanding you gained about it, it is still there. Either lurking in the background of your life or even occupying most of your waking hours.
Since they are so stubborn and resistant to common approaches you need something different to heal them. One of those different approaches is Identity Healing.
Identity Healing is a collection of powerful techniques designed to heal our wounded younger selves. I developed it as a way of working with these parts of ourselves that are so resistant to change.
The Identity Healing techniques have just four stages:
- Finding: Identifying and bringing the sub-personality into awareness.
- Soothing: Using EFT/Tapping to soothe the stress and distress carried by that younger self.
- Supporting: Using visualisation to give that younger self the emotional resources that they needed, but did not have, at that time.
- Enfolding: Bringing that healed younger part of you back into the safety and comfort of your adult self.
After this process the phrases “I am not good enough”, “Nobody loves me”, “I hate myself”, etc become just a collection of words. It’s as if those ideas never existed.
You start to notice differences in the way you think, feel and behave in situations that used to be difficult.
One of my clients, I’ll call her Katie, told me that in stressful situations she was often seized by a powerful stress response. She became paralysed by anxiety, losing her ability to think and act like an adult. Katie said: “It’s as if I stop being a capable adult and become a terrified child.”
Now in her 40s, she had experienced this anxiety response for as long as she could remember.
Using the Identity Healing process I invited Katie to imagine that younger self, the one gripped by anxiety.
The 6 year old girl she imagined was struggling to meet the demands of critical and intimidating parents.
We tapped for Katie’s younger self working through layers of anxiety and fear to relieve the distress of that younger self.
Towards the end of this tapping Katie noticed, that while her younger self looked calm now, below the surface she was full of terror. It took a few minutes of continuous tapping to soothe this strong and painful emotional state of the younger Katie.
Finally that younger self was calm and soothed.
Katie sent her love, acceptance, courage and all the other resources that younger self needed at that time but did not have. When her younger self had received those gifts from Katie, I invited her to bring that younger self back into her adult self. In a few moments that younger self, before so alone and afraid, was safe and comforted.
After this process, which took about 40 minutes, Katie felt exhausted, relieved and lighter.
I asked her to remember the situations that used to cause her anxiety response, she wasn’t able to connect with those feelings. She thought it should be there, could remember what it was like, but wasn’t able to feel it.
Over the next couple of weeks Katie noticed that she no longer had the panic response. In situations that would have sent her into anxiety and stress, she was able to respond to the situation as an adult. She responded with an adult’s ability to think clearly, rather than as a terrified child.
She found this surprising. The ‘terrified child’ response had been her way of responding to stressful situations for more than 40 years.
Not to have this response was, in her words: “life changing”.
Does the story of your wounded younger selves make sense to you?
Do you recognise yourself in this article?
Do you want to heal those wounds?
If the answer to those questions is yes, the Identity Healing process may be just what you need.
If you think you may benefit from this but are not sure if this is the right thing for you give me a call so we can have a confidential chat about what is best for you. I promise that I won’t try to sell you what you don’t want or don’t need.
If you resonated with what I have written you already know that some parts of you have been hurting for a very long time.
However long it has been and however badly it has hurt it is possible to heal those wounded parts of yourself.
It is deep work, but it can be done.