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Voice Dialogue - Inner Self Awareness

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Because carried inner selves are living in the wrong village they do not play any useful purpose. However they are usually very active and very real, and a source of major problems.

Unfortunately, once they have moved in they do not seem to want to go back. That might not be such a problem if their heart was in the right place but their real loyalty is not to the village they are now living on but to someone else's inner village. Carried inner selves are typically recognised by their lack of interest in protecting the vulnerability of the inner child (even the child in the village where they now reside.) Instead the carried inner selves focus on the needs or vulnerability of other people, such as a parent or a partner.

As far as I know, growing awareness work does not seem to recognise these inner protector inner selves as being very different, but in my experience their nature requires different handling. There are very effective ways of returning these carried inner selves back to where they come from. (See my acknowledgement at the end of this article)

inner selves like the inner patriarch and inner matriarch are typical examples. You are start out having a discussion with one of them, they seem like ordinary inner village people. just like the rest. But as you continue interviewing them and you ask (as you usually do) about the particular way they "protect" the vulnerability of the individual' s inner child they express an almost total lack of concern, or even scorn, about the welfare of the inner child or anyone else in the village.

They may on the other hand be quite vocal about the need to protect the vulnerability of inner selves or inner children inside someone else's village. And this gives us a clue to where they come from and where they really belong

Typical inner protector inner selves are inner selves who come into existence within that village to help protect the individual’s vulnerable inner child. (How inner protector inner selves are created is another story and is explained in separate pages.) See xxxxxxx (link to come here)

Refugee or carried inner selves are created differently. I believe it is very dangerous to treat them as ordinary inner selves, much as they might try to insist on this.

Amplified emotions - a clear pointer to the presence of carried inner selves

Carried inner selves are a common source of unexplained feelings of extreme pain, shame, guilt and vulnerability and often the reason behind panic and shame attacks. And this is the best way of identifying their presence in your village. If you find that your reaction to a negative situation is amplified out of all proportion to what you or other people would expect then that is usually because there is a carried self who is amplifying the emotion.

Example The Killer critic. During an interview, this character will talk about the individual or their inner child in a very critical and scornful way. If the individual is feeling a small amount of shame about something they have done, the killer critic will heap 10 times more shame on them. The killer critic may even express an opinion, (I have heard this quite often) that the individual and their inner child are so shameful that they would serve the world better by dying rather than wasting useful food and oxygen!

Similarly the inner patriarch and inner matriarch spend a lot of time punishing and hurting the inner child in the village where they live. As pointed out in a separate page they also try to reduce personal growth, self-awareness and good relationships with other people. Ordinary inner selves would never do this, these ones are different.

See also Hot wired or Triggered reactions  

Where do these refugees come from?

How do these refugees arrive in someone else's village? We pick these refugee inner selves up unintentionally early in childhood particularly before we can talk, at a time when we are highly intuitive. The following story may help explain:

    Tim's Mum has a big secret in her past and has never told her husband, her parents or even her closest friend about this ‘shameful secret’. But that does not mean she has forgotten it. On the contrary, every day she will carry the shame of that secret around with her, and she will use a lot of her energy to keep trying to suppress it and keep it quiet.

    Small children in cases like this can feel this energy in their parent. Somehow they ‘know’ intuitively that the parent is struggling with something very secret even before they know the words they would need to ‘think’ about it (and so realise it isn’t their ‘secret’ at all). Children at this age like Tim, are also inclined to feel that whatever goes wrong around them must somehow be ‘their fault’ .So little Tim is primed to feel shame about Mum’s secret, he does not know why but he certainly knows that something is wrong and he thinks it is fault, but without knowing why.

    What happens next is very significant. Little Tim, who is only one year old notices (unconsciously and intuitively of course) that when he feels some extra shame, this in some way seems to ease the burden bid for his Mum. When little Tim carries some of his mother's hidden shame he also notices (unconsciously and intuitively course) that what he is doing somehow helps Mum feel better. Today, she seems a little happier and she smiles at him a little more. .And that in turn helps little Tim to feel that he is a good child and so he feels that what is doing must be the right thing, and that set him up to do it again and again.

    Little Tim continues to help (unconsciously) in this way, and over the next few years continues to take on more and more of Mum's hidden shame and carry it for her. And the more that they does this the more Mum seems to be pleased with him.

    However, Tim pays a price in terms of extreme feelings of shame. Later in his adult life, he experiences terrible ‘shame attacks’ but has no idea why. The refugee killer critic that Tim now carries everywhere with him, amplifies any small feelings of shame that Tim might have and as a result his inner child (Little Tim) feels incredibly shameful and he and Tim experiences what he calls "shame attacks".

Other carried inner selves can involve feelings of extreme fear, grief, rage, loss, guilt, unworthiness, hopelessness or just feeling dirty.

The best indicator of a carried self is when you notice that emotional reactions to ordinary events are amplified by five to ten times the expected response. For example, someone flies into a rage because they are told their shoelace is undone! Shame and panic attacks are another common indication as is a feeling of being totally abandoned, devastated or worthless.

Carried inner selves do not belong

Carried inner selves do not belong to you. Even if carrying them had some value by helping you cope in childhood, by now they are quite toxic and rather than helping they increase your vulnerability.

Returning a refugee to the original village requires some help from a trained therapist but if the problem is really a carried self, then in a short time you will experience a profound feeling of relief, new joy and freedom as if a great load has been lifted off your shoulders.


The concept of carried sub-personalities does not come from growing awareness work. It is based on from Pia Mellody’s work which identifies emotions "carried" from a parent or abuser. Having been trained in Pia Mellody’s techniques I had worked with what she calls "carried feelings" for a number of years even before I learned about inner protector inner selves.

What adds to my belief that carried inner selves are very different is Pia Mellody’s dynamic “Handing Back” process (a Jungian two-chair process, very much like voice dialogue). In this process, which I have used successfully with hundreds of clients, the client’s inner father or inner mother (on behalf of the inner child) "returns" or hands the carried refugee back to the its original owner or (if they are no longer around) to their original village.

After this exercise is completed, clients typically report an immediate sense of having a great weight lifted off their shoulders and they usually make major positive changes in their life over the next year – changes which for some time previously they had not been able to make despite many attempts using growing awareness work and other self-awareness processes.

See the Inner Patriarch  page

See the Inner Matriarch page

Feedback - please e-mail me John Bligh Nutting - at

Copyright © John Nutting 1996- - 2009 and © GROWING AWARENESS All rights reserved World Wide LAST UPDATE Wednesday, 21 January 2009 10:49

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books. Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.

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Carried inner selves are like "refugees" from someone else's village

An influential but troublesome group in the village are the "carried" inner selves. Carried inner selves differ from all other kinds in that they do not even belong to us but to someone else. You carry them to help that other person! They really belong in that person's village. However in early childhood carried inner selves move from another person, usually a parent, into a child’s village. The child unconsciously helps make this happen to support the parent who is experiencing too much trouble by having them around. Hence the description of these inner selves as "refugees".

DANGER!!  Carried selves like the Inner Matriarch and her arch rival the Inner Patriarch cause so much trouble and set up so much conflict in relationships.

They are each dedicated to damaging or totally destroying grown-up functional relationships at the same time as they fight each other inside you.

Discover just how much trouble they can cause.

Learn how to identify them and how to deal with them.

I have now devoted a whole website to developing ways of reducing their toxic influence on you and your life.  


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