Talking to The Different Parts of Our Selves

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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A few days ago, my partner tried a coaching exercise with me for the second time, called ‘Voice Dialogue‘. In this exercise, you talk to different roles that are part of a client’s personality. These roles or parts could be anything the client comes up with in that coaching session, or in a previous session. Usually, in one session, you’ll work with about two roles. For me, for example, those two roles were ‘the Defender‘ and ‘the Diplomat‘.

The point of ‘voice dialogue’ is to see which role is playing a big part in a certain situation, and which other part of yourself could assist in the response to this situation, either to enhance a positive response, or (more common) to aide in a situation that’s not going well. My example, for this specific session, was a converation with my mother in which I went into defense mode instead of clearly stating what I wanted to share (my ideal situation). The Defender needed some help from the Diplomat to do this. But both roles also showed me their strengths and their weaknesses, giving me great insight into parts of my own personality. I wanted to do the exercise because it’s one that I’ve been very impatient to try out in my own coaching work.

A few days later, I did get to try it out on a client for the first time. The client in question was really open to the exercise which meant that we got to meet two important roles in the client’s life and they gained a lot of insight. The exercise plays on an intuitive level, using words and images that ‘come up‘ from the subconscious. It requires trust in the coach, yourself and in the process to express this openly.

Last night, the value of this process was highlighted to me in a dream I had. I dreamt I was together with two other women, at some kind of holiday retreat. In the distance, we saw a fairground. Two women walked up to us, inviting us to go to the fair. One of the girls who was with me, really wanted to go. It looked fun to her. The other seemed eternally doubtful of whether to go or not. But for me, the whole thing felt off. The eyes of the two women who invited us looked vacant. The whole fair seemed to have an eerie air about it. I decided we had to leave and try to escape the premise. The whole situation felt very threatening.

So, I looked for the shadows. I hid behind bushes and went from tree to tree, all the while the two women who were with me followed me as their guide. One of them kept pulling at the back of my jacket, hanging on so she wouldn’t lose me, But by now there were voices calling out that we were getting away and her pulling at my jacket meant that I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted and needed to. Our pursuers were quickly gaining on us.

I half woke up before we made it completely to safety, but I decided to go back in the dream (lucid dreaming) and make us all invisible (as you do) so that we could make it out in the end. The whole time we were escaping, I knew that I was both hindered by my two companions and that I also couldn’t leave them behind. As I fell into a half-dreaming state, I realised that these women represented parts of myself that were, at times, holding me back, but that I also had a responsibility of caring for. I’m not supposed to just ‘ditch’ parts of my personality because there is a situation in which they are holding me back. All these parts have their uses and their value.

My client found a role in her that was insecure and held her back in wanting to reach certain goals. Yet, when talking to this role, it also became clear that this part of her wanted to protect her from disappointment and was actually setting the bar for what ‘success’ looked like. Our inner roles are not just one sided. They are dynamic, open to discussion and multi-dimensional.

These past few weeks have formed an introduction into this experiences of the selves within my self; a first step on a very interesting looking path.

I’ll be sure to share more of my insights as they meet me along the way. Perhaps they might be of some use to you as well, my dear readers.

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