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Looking at a powerful analogy and client example that show the path toward trust and ease.

What is driving you in your decisions and your life?… is fear or mistrust leading the way?

A big part of the work I do with people is to explore at a deeper level what is happening in their lives.  On the surface, you may struggle with stress, imbalance, dissatisfaction, or many things.

It’s easy to see what’s on the surface, but what isn’t always clear is what’s underneath it.

  • What is leading you to this situation?
  • Why do you feel this way?
  • Why has something become a pattern in your life that leads you to feel stuck or that you can’t change things?
  • A question I often hold in an inner exploration is, what is leading you?

Parts Therapy, as seen in Gestalt Therapy and Internal Family Systems, recognize that you are made of many different parts, based on different roles you hold or have had, and these combine to give you a sense of your identity or who you feel you are. These parts may be based on your experiences and roles as a mother, daughter, wife, friend, boss, employee, etc. and they may conflict with each other.  Often who you “think” you are is limited and is not necessarily how others perceive or see you, but is an internal construct.

This internal view of self can be hard to challenge and may feel limiting.  It has its own stories and beliefs. Like the analogy of wearing rose-colored glasses, the beliefs of these parts may lead you to experience situations in life in particular ways, reinforcing certain beliefs or expectations you have about yourself which may be positive or negative.

As an example, I overheard a woman telling a group of people at the bus stop about how she had dressed up in costume for Halloween at the elementary school.  She said, “I looked so darn cute!  I went around to every classroom because the kids loved it!”

I remember thinking how it was great to see someone speaking so positively about herself, and how it could just as easily have been someone saying they didn’t want to be seen because they thought they looked terrible, ugly, fat, etc. This woman looks at things from a sense of appreciating her own beauty and being welcomed.

This view of herself aligns with a sense of balance and feeling good about herself.  She may have had positive experiences in her upbringing where she felt seen and welcomed and that influences her today.  There may be other areas of her life that feel out of balance, but in being seen, she feels comfortable and welcomed.

With people I work with, there is a sense of something out of balance, limiting them or causing them pain.

So we want to go deeper.  We want to find out what’s behind the beliefs, the walls, how these beliefs affect them.

I worked with a client who was exhausted, overworked, and felt like she couldn’t slow down. She often felt she didn’t fit in and was uncomfortable.  She seemed to be driven by an internal motor.  She could slow down when she felt comfortable in our sessions.  We used that time of slowing down to feel into what was the force that was driving her.

In seeing painful experiences of rejection in childhood, she also felt how her imagination had rescued her. She would dream of being in a different environment where she was a very different girl. She laughed about it and almost dismissed it when she recalled it.

But what we saw was that this part of her she thought she was imagining was actually more connected to who she really is than the part of her that felt driven and was fighting to survive, fighting for love and attention in an overburdened household.  She had grown up identifying herself more with the part that was trying to please, that was trying to be quiet, that was trying to be competent and that was basically in survival mode.

Seeing this allowed her to recognize that the survival part from her childhood was leading her and driving things.  Seeing these very different parts, she realized she could connect more deeply with this other part of her that until now she had considered was only an imaginary or superfluous part of her.  Now she could see and feel that this other, more hidden part of herself was much more of her true essence and who she really is.

She could feel into the lightness, playfulness, exuberance and joy of this part who hadn’t been able to express herself in a dark, overwhelmed upbringing.  This part hadn’t felt safe enough to express herself. She saw that the difficulties in her family life were not personal to her. She had done nothing wrong.  She was caught in the middle of it all.

Now, she could have the choice to discover more fully this part she had disconnected from and let this lightness lead her.  She could afford to slow down more because this part didn’t need to survive.  This part carried the essence of herself.

When I talk about these parts, it has nothing to do with split personalities.  It is integrating ALL of us.  Recognizing the parts of us we disown or reject or neglect. This client can see and hold the part that had been in survival mode, and at the same time she can feel the lightness of her more true self and let it lead her.

It’s like the metaphor of the horse-drawn carriage. The horse represents your emotions, and they can lead the way until you learn to manage and work with them.  The driver represents the mind and how you can try to control things through the reigns or grasping.

The essence is that being the passenger is where you want to be.

The passenger directs the driver where to go but can sit back and enjoy the ride, trusting she has directed the way and she knows where she’s going.  The passenger doesn’t have to worry or grasp or put energy into over-handling things.

This essence of the passenger is your soul or Self.

So in this example, as the client connects with more of her true essence and her spirit, she feels a sense of freedom, joy, and ease.  She no longer identifies herself as the rejected, stuck part she had experienced.  There is a gentleness and an acceptance of the rejected part.  As it becomes incorporated, and she allows herself to feel the ease and joy of her essence, she trusts the journey more and feels a sense of openness and freedom.

What is driving you?

Do you relate to the horses and emotional reactivity or agitation?

Or do you see yourself as the driver, holding tight to the reigns, trying to force the horse to go faster or go in a different direction?

Can you feel what it would be like in your life if you were the passenger?  Does it bring up fear or worry to not be in control?

Can you feel what it would be like to sit back and trust and enjoy the moment, knowing that you’re supported and going in the right direction, feeling the bigger picture and letting go of control of how you get there?

Can you connect to your essence? Are there parts of you that feel light, joyful and free?

See if you can feel into the potential.

Can you feel the sense of freedom and lightness that can occur for you in a space of trust?

  • Take some time to feel what is driving you.
  • Tune into how you’re feeling during the day and see if you can allow yourself to relax into and trust that you can be the passenger- that you can let go and trust that things will work out.
  • What if you didn’t have to get caught in emotional reactions, or grip the reins and control what is happening in your life.
  • Take a few deep breaths and feel how your body feels when you trust that things will work out.

Journal about your experiences.  Reply to this email and share with me.  What do you feel?  What are your a-has?

See if you can be mindful in the moments if you’re allowing yourself to be the passenger and how it affects you.

Wishing you a peaceful day,
Dr. Maureen

What is Your Play Personality?

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