Do you ever feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Movies and literature are riddled with characters with disowned aspects of their personality – think Nutty Professor, The Hulk, Charlie/Hank from Me, Myself and Irene, Sybil, Gollum/Smeagol from Lord of the Rings, Norman Bates from Psycho. People find this subject fascinating because it is such a common, real-life experience.
The only way to integrate your own personality is to get to know your various disowned parts and begin to reel them into the light.
There are many different ways to go about acknowledging your disowned aspects; some people like to give them names, others call them by the major feeling or behavior. When I explored my personality, I found a whole group of sub-personalities that I’d felt uncomfortable with for much of my life. Here are some parts of myself that I identified, explored and brought into the light:
The Avoider- My biggest sub-personality I called The Avoider. This part of me was afraid of moving forward in life, didn’t like facing issues or conflict and basically just wanted me to stick my head in the sand rather than deal with my fears. She was always disheveled, liked wearing old, worn clothing, and had a ‘why even bother’ attitude about self-care. Traits included messy, unkempt, uncaring, fearful, unconscious, protective, strong, stubborn, determined and resistant. Major feelings were disappointment, shame, weakness, inadequacy, unworthiness, self-disgust and dread of taking my head out of the sand and facing whatever I’d been avoiding. My avoider had patterns of reading for hours or days on end, taking naps, eating chocolate and generally distracting me from whatever issue was currently at hand. If she couldn’t find another way to avoid something she didn’t want to face, I would become physically ill, ending up in bed with a high fever. The Avoider allowed me to miss every ballet performance I was terrified of giving, skip taking tests, miss deadlines for auditions and college applications, leave countless projects unfinished, ignore my debts, not file my taxes on time and otherwise avoid taking responsibility for much of my life. Major motivations of behavior were self-protection, fear of failure, fear of commitment and fear of conflict.
The Helper- My most co-dependent aspect was the part of me that needed to help others, usually to the detriment of myself. This part of me felt it was my job, my responsibility to take care of everyone else’s business but my own. Traits included caring, compassionate, sympathetic, bossy, controlling, manipulative, judgmental and self-righteous. Major feelings included superiority/inferiority, unworthiness, anxiety, fears of ‘not good enough’ and self-hatred. The Helper had behaviors of advising, interfering and doing things for other people, sometimes without even asking them if they wanted my help. Major motivations for behavior included needing to feel needed, to prove that I was useful and to get attention or acknowledgment.
Sexy Cyn- This was the part of myself that needed to feel like she was attractive or sexy. Traits included vanity, naivety, caring, beauty, self-centeredness and egocentric. Major feelings included lack of confidence, insecurity, unworthiness, embarrassment, pathetic, fakeness, stupidity, less-than, ugly, unacceptable, unwanted, undesirable and unlikable. This part would come forward if I ever had the opportunity to go out at night, go on a date, go dancing, etc. She felt uncomfortable unless I had on mascara and a push-up bra. Sexy Cyn had behaviors of glancing in windows to make sure she looked Ok, sucking in her stomach to appear skinnier, speaking in a higher tone of voice and generally trying to appear sexy or attractive at all times. Major motivations included needing to be loved, needing to be liked and accepted by men, wanting attention, wanting to feel ‘good enough’ and ‘worthy’ of attention and wanting to be seen and acknowledged.
Sarcastic Cyn- This was my major ‘offensive’ defense mechanism, which I employed if avoiding conflict didn’t work. Her energy was rather momma lion-ish – like a fierce mother protecting her cubs she would unsheathe her sharp claws at any suspected threat. Traits included sarcastic, mean, brutally honest, blunt, courageous, judgmental, compassionate, caring, protective, cynical, impetuous, spontaneous, funny and creative. Major feelings included fearful, defensive, small, helpless, angry and inadequate. Sarcastic Cyn’s pattern was to respond with a dig, a put-down or a joke to deflect any perceived criticism towards me or someone close to me. Major motivations included self-protection, protecting her family or loved-ones from pain or judgment.
The Yeller- The Yeller was the part of myself that I disliked intensely but didn’t seem to be able to control. Traits included loud, uncaring, bold, defiant, vindictive, creative, strong and powerful. Major feelings were sorrow, shame, blaming, self-hatred, despondency, inadequacy, embarrassment, fear of self, anger, resentment and stupidity. She would act out whenever I was really angry and just scream whatever was on her mind uncensored, without caring about the consequences of her words. She would say ‘I’m sorry’ afterwards, but that never really made her feel any better about losing control. Major motivations were trying to control, trying to defend, seeking justice, and a need to be ‘right’.
The Hitter- This aspect was a very small part that didn’t show herself very often, yet she was quite powerful. She would only come forward as a last resort, if yelling didn’t work and I was at an absolute limit. Traits included strength, conviction, loyalty, authoritative, courageous, stubborn and mean. Major feelings included deep shame, sorrow, regret, mortification, fear of self, self-hatred and self-loathing. Behavior was a strong, right-handed slap across the face of whoever was not obeying my boundary. Major motivations included trying to control or defend.
These were some of my previously disowned aspects, and I can tell you – thankfully – that I’ve successfully integrated each one of them. By identifying their characteristics and exploring them fully, I was able to heal and transform each of these parts of myself that had been stuck in the dark, feeling judged and unwanted. I identified, cleared and transmuted all of the self-judgment related to the feelings that each of these aspects held. I now have new, more supportive patterns of behavior and healthier responses in place of the old, destructive behaviors. I now feel deeply peaceful, comfortable in my own skin.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have parts of yourself that you can identify based on personality traits, recurring feelings, or patterns of behavior that are no longer serving you? See if you can give them a name, and identify their underlying motivation for the behavior.
However you go about doing this is Ok; there is no right or wrong way to explore your personality. Do whatever you are inclined to do and trust the process. The main goal with exploring your disowned aspects is to bring them into your conscious awareness. By becoming aware of these different parts of yourself, you will be literally shining light on your previously disowned parts and beginning to own them, taking them from unconscious to conscious. By exploring your personality and getting familiar with all of your previously disowned parts, you’ll be well on your way to becoming more integrated, centered and self-accepting. Say, “I am now identifying and exploring the parts that I’ve kept in the dark.”
Many Blessings of Joy and Vibrant Freedom
ction Step ~ Explore your sub-personalities. Give them a name, list their character traits, main feelings, patterns of behavior and underlying motivations.
Declaration: “I am now shining the light freely on my disowned parts. I am now identifying and exploring the parts of my personality that have been locked in the dark. I now accept every part of myself as Lovable.”