Are there parts of yourself that you hate?
For some, these are physical parts. You hate your nose, your lips, your thighs, belly or ankles because you believe they are so ugly.
For others, a psychological part is ruining things. You hate your inner critic or the part of you that just wants to eat potato chips all day.
There are jealous parts, angry parts, fearful parts, controlling parts, worrying parts and parts that simply won’t cooperate with your positive desires.
These parts don’t seem to care about anything.
Interestingly, hating your physical parts also comes from a psychological self-critical part of you. These lurking aspects of your identity are the origin of all the angst.
Of course, you don’t really have distinct psychological parts. But it certainly feels that way. It’s as if some underlying monster were in there wreaking havoc, attempting to destroy your happiness “just because.”
Most people want to annihilate these parts. Just get rid of them!
It doesn’t work that way.
These parts are craftier and more determined than you. There is a TON of psychic energy and intelligence behind them. In this post, we’ll discuss the origin of these insidious parts and how to begin the healing process.
Yes, you can heal. If you do the work, there will come a day when the inner turmoil is…gone. I know because I have been through this myself and have helped many others do the same.
The beginning of it all…
It began when you were a child. When you were mistreated, you hurt. You became angry or even hostile. Those who where hurting you physically or emotionally weren’t having any of it, though.
You may have been punished for expressing your unhappiness and pain. You may have been ignored or humiliated when you most needed to be loved. As a result, you learned to suppress all the pain. You did this mentally and physically.
Mentally, you may have adopted others’ words and applied them to yourself.
Stop crying you little baby.
Get over it already.
You deserve it, so stop your whining.
Crying about it won’t help. Take your medicine.
By learning to tell yourself these things, you made impossible to express your pain.
Physically, you stopped the natural flow of emotional energy in your body. When you hurt, the feeling wants to get out. It may start in your belly, the move up through your chest, throat and into your face, then out of your eyes. Tears are the result.
When you allow the energy to flow in this manner, you cleanse it from your body and, ultimately, feel better.
When it is not OK to express, you clench and tighten your muscles to stop the flow of emotional energy. You tighten your chest, shoulders, throat and eyes in order to keep the pain at bay.
This serves to trap the pain in your body.
Unless and until you express it, the pain remains, stewing. The result is chronic stress and tension. Worse, by now you have convinced yourself that expressing your emotions is wrong. You may not even be aware of them much of the time.
Thus, a subconscious, highly emotional part is born. A part of you churning about in there that is full of negativity and pain. This part now gets in your way because you have lost touch with it entirely.
Since you don’t understand all this, you hate this part of you because it disrupts your life. This hatred only adds to the pain.
To move beyond this vicious cycle, follow the 5 steps listed below:
1. Stop fighting.
More than anything, the stress comes from the ongoing battle in your psyche. I know it feels like giving in will allow that ugly part to take over and run your life. The opposite is true.
Fighting this part of you is what runs your life.
Ending the battle will open new opportunities to learn why this part exists and begin to negotiate more favorable outcomes. This is merely the first step.
Your mission is to befriend this part of you. After all, this is you.
Nobody has ever had compassion on this deep aspect of your personality and likely never will. This is your job now.
You can start by apologizing to this part for hating it so much. If you are resistant to this, then you can simply resign to be an enemy of this part, forever. You already know what that is like!
You need to heal the war within your soul and it begins with you. Talk to yourself kindly. You talk to yourself all the time! Why not do it consciously and with compassion?
3. Consider this impossible truth.
The impossible truth is that since you have grown so used to living with the stress and negativity, you might not even want to give it up. In fact, you may find it strangely pleasurable.
Who would you be without all this angst? It’s hard to say, isn’t it? Often, we cling to what we know rather than take a happier route in life. Why? Because it’s what we know.
So, you may find yourself coming up with all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t follow these steps:
This is stupid.
It will never work.
It’s too overwhelming.
These are all lies intended to keep you comfortably where you are.
This is NOT stupid. Ignoring your pain is the not-so-smart way to hang onto it forever.
This DOES work. Doing nothing is the guarantee of failure.
This is a step-by-step process that can take some time, but each step is clear and simple.
4. Learn what this part wants that is positive.
Your alienated part doesn’t really want to ruin your life, but it is happy to do so until you deal with it. It’s like a neglected puppy. After a while, it starts to tear things up because it isn’t getting any love, attention or discipline.
Once you stop fighting this part, languishing in the pain, and open communication lines, new possibilities become real.
Most of all, you can consider what this lost and forgotten part of you really needs. I’ve never found a part of any person that didn’t ultimately want something positive:
To be loved.
To play more.
To be heard.
To feel safe.
These are wonderful outcomes. Chances are, when you were young, you didn’t have much of the above. This part of you has served as the keeper of these lost desires. Be grateful for that!
5. Live consciously with this part for a period of time.
A lot of “parts interventions,” such as the NLP 6-step Reframe, suggest that you can simply give a part new things to do and it will agree and follow suit. We teach the 6-step Reframe in our NLP practitioner training. It’s one of the most useful, universal models of internal problem solving.
Yet. I have discovered a deeper, even more integrative solution as I have worked with clients over the years. I call it, living consciously with your parts.
Here is an example of how it works:
Debbie’s goal is to exercise five times per week. She knows it will give her more energy and help her feel better about herself.
Every evening when it comes time to exercise, she realizes how lethargic she feels and finds any excuse to put it off. By the time the evening ends, Debbie is full of resentment that she let herself down yet again.
She knew she’d feel better soon after she hopped onto the elliptical machine and cranked some music, but the lethargy was so overwhelming that she gave in and continued surfing the Internet or watching television.
After opening communication with this “super lethargic part,” Debbie discovered a string of events that she hadn’t thought about in decades.
When she was younger, her father was critical. It turned out that often when Debbie thought she had done something well, her father rejected her efforts.
When she got a B in math, her most difficult subject, she was relieved and proud of herself. When dad saw the report card he told her that a B is not an A, just the same as an F is not an A. She might have well as failed!
When Debbie tried her best to sweep the kitchen, her father would walk through and kick around all the dirt she missed and ask if she was blind.
When he discovered a secret love note from a boy she had liked for a long time, her father all but called her a whore.
Time and time again, when Debbie felt excited, happy, proud or industrious, dad rejected her. This, of course, hurt!
With no outlet for the pain, Debbie suppressed it, fighting the emotions back with all her might.
At age 38, Debbie had long forgotten all those incidents, but they were alive and well in this super lethargic part.
Is this making sense?
Now, when Debbie wants to get on the ball, get in shape and feel proud of herself again, this part of her overwhelms her with lethargy, as if to say, “There is no point in all that – it only leads to rejection!”
When Debbie got it, her life changed. She was filled with compassion for this neglected part of her. To integrate real change into her daily life, I gave Debbie the following instructions:
I only want you to attempt to exercise when both you and this part agree to exercise.
In other words, don’t try to run away and leave this part of you behind. It will only come back to bite you.
So, every evening, Debbie sat down for a few minutes of reflection before she attempted to exercise. She’d get in touch with her lethargic part and say, “I want to exercise, but I’m not going to do it unless you agree.”
She’d inevitably get objections and concerns that she had to work out. She had to reassure herself that nobody is here to criticize her; that feeling great is safe and OK, etc… Several times, she just broke down and cried.
Within a month, however, Debbie was exercising consistently and feeling more emotionally safe than ever. Funny thing was, she had never realized that she felt unsafe – not until she got behind the lethargy and really communicated with herself.
No more self-sabotage. No more mysterious lethargy.
From my perspective, this story is common. It takes digging deep and doing weird things like talking to your parts.
Honestly, I think talking to your parts is less weird than allowing hidden aspects of your psyche to run your life while you live in frustration.