Talking to Ourselves

There are many different subpersonalities or selves and they always have a counterpart. Say for instance a woman is a typical pleaser, having been rewarded for always being there for anybody in need. She will also have a selfish side that is disowned and hardly has anything to say in her daily life. Thus when this particular woman needs to make her own choices and know what is best for her, she won’t have a clue. She will need to establish contact with that selfish side to know what it is she wants.

Other selves are the controller or protector, the pusher, the critic and the perfectionist. These selves are called the heavyweights, because they are the most dominant selves and often control our more vulnerable selves like the vulnerable, playful and the magical child. The controller actually evolves to protect the vulnerable child, and in doing so, buries it so that it will not get hurt.

Psychologists Hal and Sidra Stone are the founders of this process called Voice Dialogue. The idea of Voice Dialogue is to make you aware of these different voices, selves or subpersonalities and to give you a tool to objectify and understand them and use them creatively. Besides the selves described above we also need what Hal and Sidra Stone call an aware ego.

An ego, in other words, the one that makes choices in our lives, that is aware of the subpersonalities instead of identifying with one or more of them and acting from their perspective. An aware ego that is able to listen to and observe these different selves without judgement. Ultimately we want the aware ego to be able to embrace the powerful and the vulnerable sides, so that we feel empowered rather than being ‘in power’. By being conscious of our different selves, it becomes easier to act from our true essence.

So how does it work? In a Voice Dialogue session, the facilitator will guide the client through the process by being very attentive when a self enters and takes over the conversation. This becomes apparent by a change in the client’s voice, posture and expression.

By giving each different self a separate space, on a chair in the room, they are being divided and it is possible to talk to them as separate subpersonalities. The client will move from one chair to the other anytime another self is talking. In this way it is possible to find out what a certain self needs and also to actually start a dialogue between the different selves.

Opposing selves become aware of each other’s conflicting needs and look for a way to cooperate instead of just living alongside each other. In Voice Dialogue every self is just as important and ‘right’ as another. Those selves that are disowned, that are not acknowledged, will turn against you and one day will come out in the form of an addiction or excessive behaviour.

We can recognise our disowned selves when we get very irritated or extremely angry about something or somebody. This person is most likely the personification of the part you have disowned. By letting the different subpersonalities speak for themselves, a process is initiated that will naturally create awareness.

By plunging into this process of self discovery, you will be able to solve inner conflicts more easily and to make conscious decisions. You will feel more balanced and milder towards yourself and others. It is at the same time a way to discover hidden talents and it makes you capable of breaking habits.

If you would like to find out more about Voice Dialogue read; Embracing our selves and Partnering: A new kind of relationship by Hal and Sidra Stone. If you are interested in experiencing a Voice Dialogue session contact life coach Maaike van Dijk. See for more information.

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