What Parts of You Need Help?
If I behave in a way that isn’t the “me” I truly want to be, is this part of me a mistake? Is this part of me wrong? Messed up? “Less than?”
Is it sub-standard?
There’s nothing wrong with me or you or anyone. Nothing about us is inadequate, faulty, or defective.
We just have undeveloped parts.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see that all parts of our behavior, including our undeveloped parts, are designed to help us grow into the person we are?
All of us have aspects that are learning to be wise, relaxed, and resilient—they just aren’t quite there yet.
What if we could offer these undeveloped parts of ourselves some real-time help, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves and struggle?
Instead of deserting the parts of us that are lost and afraid, along with the accompanying feelings of upset, discomfort, or disappointment, maybe we could be kinder, gentler partners to the aspects of ourselves that are evolving.
We could ask our friendly eyes to examine the places in us where we struggle to accept ourselves or another, no matter how small those places are.
What Does It Take?
To do this requires that I become conscious of what I usually do, how I react, how I cope, what tendencies come up, what feelings arise—without dwelling on or falling into those familiar defaults.
For example, if part of me seems paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy and is afraid to try something new, this is the part of me that naturally votes “no” to going outside my comfort zone because “I’m not ready” or “I don’t know enough.” This part of me has its reasons.
However, for every undeveloped part of me, there exists an equal and related developed aspect of me. I can ask this more evolved part—true-me—to partner with an undeveloped part.
True-me is available 24-7, except that hmmm… I don’t seem to lean toward utilizing true-me in all situations.
Do you notice this, too?
It is my experience that not harnessing the power of our developed selves is common for most of us. By doing that, what are we missing out on?
True-me has the wisdom to explore freely and to learn the depth of knowledge necessary to create a foundation for mastery and right action. True-me has faith in my ability to learn how to learn, and to learn what I need to know as I go.
What if I leaned into true-me more often, and asked true-me to guide in places I haven’t invited it to do so before?
For this to happen, I must be willing to observe myself. To observe is to step back and examine what I said or did in a lighthearted, curious way, as if viewing someone else.
If the fear of not knowing holds me back, my first step is to commit to paying attention to what I do now, and to understand it so well that I could teach the steps to someone else. I could teach them how to have my problem.
- Notice when the fear comes up.
- Acknowledge that it’s there and give it a name. Greet it by name either aloud or silently as in “Hello, I see you, “Fear of Not Knowing.” (This is key. Don’t skip this step.)
- Notice if there’s a feeling in my body. Where is it? Describe it.
Just notice those things at first. Get to know how fear approaches the on-ramp.
What I Notice
In continuing my assignment, here’s what I find.
- First, there’s a feeling of “not knowing” which oozes into my solar plexus. It’s tension, and it grips me a little. It’s slightly uncomfortable.
- Then it spreads out through my whole body.
- The feeling of “I don’t know enough to tackle that project” makes me a little breathless and scattered, and it takes over. I fall for it and follow its lead.
- Suddenly I find myself backing off a project I’d been thinking about. I just stop.
- I set the project aside, go do something else, answer an email, get up from my desk for a break, eat something, walk outside, or get a drink of water.
- When something else inevitably demands my attention, before I know it, the project I had intended to do is a distant memory.
Those are the beginning steps. This is how my undeveloped fear part takes hold and runs the show. Good to know!
What Else Can I Do?
What are my alternatives? What can I do instead of letting the fear of not knowing run the show? How can I partner with this fear instead of leave it alone, shaking by itself in the corner?
First, I might look at the ways this fear has served me, how it has kept my life small and comfortable. Maybe my inner introvert has appreciated the alone time. Since it has kept my life simple and manageable, I offer this part of me a genuine thank you for its faithful service.
Then I ask it to have a seat and relax while I summon other friends.
At my invitation, my developed self (my higher self, my wise self) comes to sit with us—join the conversation and offer assistance. This is the idea of lending support to the “fear of not knowing” part of me rather than leaving it on its own to suffer, flail, and fall in a helpless heap.
With assistance from my true self, the frightened, less confident aspect can accept the generous hand offered by the wiser part of me.
It’s similar to when your parent was by your side when you learned to ride a bicycle. In helping the part of me that is afraid it “doesn’t know,” my wiser self serves as the encouraging parent, the training wheels, or both.
Or it’s like in karate when learning to break a board. The board exercise was part of a class I took—I had no clue how to break a piece of wood with my hand! Frankly, it horrified me a little. But for sure, it sounded impossible—at least unlikely—that I’d be able to do that. Other people would do it for sure, but not me.
An experienced instructor suggested that even I had the ability, and then taught me how. It became a personal accomplishment! I did it. I broke a board in one easy lesson.
In the same way, I can mentor myself by taking advantage of the experienced instructor within—the wiser parts of me. My wiser parts can lend a hand to undeveloped parts and clear the way for a result worth celebrating.
Here are other situations where self-mentoring can work beautifully.
EVALUATE/JUDGE: When evaluation/judgment/self-criticism comes up, do your best to recognize it and say, “I see you, Evaluation. Thank you for your past service. You’ve been helpful and faithful. (Give specifics.) Here are a couple of new friends for you to meet, Encouragement and Trust.”
These new friends teach Evaluation some fresh skills.
DOUBT: If Doubt lures you into inaction, look it in the eyes and say, “I see you, Doubt. I have truly appreciated the comfort of staying small. Thank you. But things are changing now. There are new folks you simply must meet! Please shake hands with Faith and Go-For-It.”
Have them get to know each other and exchange helpful knowledge. Anytime you feel Doubt, Faith is there to remind you of how it can help.
DISTRACTION: If Distraction takes you off-track, give it a nod of recognition and say, “I see you. Let’s see who else is here and how they can help. Please say hello to Focus and Calm Progress.”
Again, give them a chance to meet, talk, and assist each other. Invite Calm Progress to take Distraction’s hand and guide it toward a more satisfying result.
We can partner with ourselves.
Clearing the Slate
Personally speaking, as I’m learning to be a better partner with underdeveloped parts of myself, I’ve discovered that my ability to “clear the slate” comes in handy. This developed, evolved self helps the part of me that wants to hang onto yesterday’s failures, beliefs, and shortcomings.
To clear the slate means to leave yesterday’s limiting beliefs or baggage alone. Don’t carry it into today. Start fresh.
A boyfriend and I broke up a good while back. Paul recently asked if I’d be willing to get together to talk. He said he’d been reconsidering our relationship and wanted to see if there could be a way to work toward being together.
When we rendezvous, I’ll take a fresh, clean-slate look at things. (Hopefully, Paul will do that, too, but that’s his business.)
Starting with a clean slate doesn’t mean we’ll get back together. It doesn’t mean we’ll see a way forward that wasn’t there before. But to me, it does mean that whatever mindset that existed in the past has evaporated. I’m starting with fresh eyes. Everything I’ve learned in the last six months will show up for this meeting.
We’ll see where this goes!
To encourage each of us to create a partnership between our developed and undeveloped selves, here are some uplifting words from Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion.
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.“ —Thomas Merton
In other words, bring your wise self to the table every chance you get. Let your wise self—courage, faith, and hope—take the hand of the timid, confused, or fearful parts of you that could use a little help.
To Your Transformation and Mine,
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How to Save Your Fourth Marriage, In Care of Relationships, intimate relationships, Terri Crosby, true-me