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Voice Dialogue - Inner Self Awareness

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An example of its disempowering ability is the not uncommon case where a strict and upright leader in a religious institution ends up being involved in a scandal relating to the same moral issues he set out to uphold. His ‘Specially Entitled’ self stopped him seeing the conflict between his high moral stance and his day to day activities and so ended up disempowering him.

In more everyday instances, people with a strong ‘Entitled’ self, act as if there is no problem about what that self says or does to others, even when those around them can see there that it causing serious disruptions. Attempts to warn them of the consequences go unheard and unnoticed, often until it is too late.
I often meet separated couples where one partner has been telling the ‘Entitled’ partner for ten or fifteen years that his or her behaviour was destroying the love in the relationship. In the end, the long suffering (and long loving) ‘not-so-entitled’ partner finally gives up, is unable to offer love any longer and leaves. It is only then that the individual with the ‘Entitled’ self, notices that there is a problem. That is why we need to recognise the specially entitled self as extremely disempowering for the person who holds it, as well as for those around it.

Identifying Specially Entitled Behaviour

To understand the ‘Entitled’ self (and to have any chance of working with that self) we must first appreciate that it is really just a very strong cover for the person’s deeply painful negative core beliefs and his or her associated low level of self esteem. Understanding the ‘Specially Entitled’ inner self also requires an appreciation of why the reactions it triggers are so extreme. It’s not just what the self has us do or say, but its attitude of being so totally ‘one-up’ and ‘right’ and better than those it is communicating with. You have already seen how ordinary ‘one-up’ parent energy triggers other people into strong reactions, sometimes compliance but more often rebellion or mutiny. ‘Specially Entitled’ selves amplify this reaction tenfold.

If people around you often display a strong rebel or mutineer self as a protector, this may indicate that your ‘entitled’ self has triggered these selves into action. I often work with couples where the partner with the ‘entitled’ self makes the appointment. Usually that self will explain that he or she has no problems but wants me to ‘fix’ its partner, whom they insist has much work to do on their problems (one of which, at least is usually their rebellious attitude towards their ‘entitled’ mate!).

Typical ‘Entitled self’ activity can include:

* putting own needs ahead of other family or work group members, while criticising others in the group for selfishness.

* expecting others to cooperate and compromise while excusing his or her self from the need to cooperate

* criticising others for their words or actions while ignoring the consequences of their own.

* not sticking to the same rules that they insist on others following

* allowing others to take care of the dull, routine, boring responsibilities around them yet wanting to act alone when making important decisions that affect others

* while insisting on being ‘correct’ or ‘right’ about things and refusing to be questioned on his or her position, will actively debate others who hold a contrary point of view

* when asked to look at their own faults or failings, immediately attacking or criticising someone else (usually the person speaking to them) as a means of drawing attention away from themselves

* ‘diagnosing’ others as being in need of therapy (even threatening to have people ‘put away’) while avoiding the need to deal with own personal issues

* Knows what others are thinking and tells them what they are thinking but gets angry if anyone talks about what might be going on inside his or her own mind

All this might be summed up in the phrase "I am special and that means I don’t have to do what others are expected to’ an attitude in classic psychology that is often labelled ‘grandiosity’ or ‘narcissism’.

However, this is one of those times when it is vital to avoid labelling people and remembering the rule ‘we are not what our selves have us do’. Individuals with a strong ‘entitled’ inner self are not ‘entitled’ all the time, nor are they grandiose or narcissistic people. As with all other selves, the ‘entitled’ self will often only come into play when that person is triggered and needs a mask to help hide their pain or vulnerability.

However, the individual with a strong entitled self will have trouble making close friends. Even if the same individual has other charming, polite or likeable selves, people will still feel uncomfortable about getting too close, a problem the entitled self will explain, must lie within the other person, rather than within them.

In this regard the ‘Entitled’ inner self is related to a similar self called the ‘Knower’(see separate page). Of all the selves these two are among the most impersonal. However, a lack of intimacy does not really worry the ‘Entitled’ self too much since it’s main task is, after all, to mask a worrying negative core belief and a very low level of self esteem, which a good friend might discover if they were allowed to get too close. Sadly, as his or her life becomes more painful (as it usually does in the end) the person spends more time needing the entitled self’s protection to avoid facing the real reasons why their world is collapsing around them. This is the time they tend to reject the last of their friends who are still trying to warn them of the trouble ahead.

I need to admit at this point that I have one  of my own ‘entitled’ inner selves who is called ‘Captain Bligh’ and who is well known to many of my associates. Had it not been for voice dialogue I might never have come to see this self in me. My entitled inner self had disempowered my ability to see what was going on and the problems it was creating. (See the story of Captain Bligh link to come here).

I owe a personal debt of gratitude to Hal Stone for his work in facilitating my Captain Bligh self for the first time. I recall Hal’s words, at the opening of the session - "John, why is it that you cannot see a self in you that everyone else can see?’ My specially entitled Captain Bligh self objected to this question but Hal continued, totally unimpressed, and proceeded to facilitate Captain Bligh. Suddenly I could see and feel for the first time what the impact of my entitled self was like for others. The next day, I asked Hal the why I couldn’t I see this for myself. After all I had been teaching voice dialogue here in Australia for nearly four years and had been facilitated myself many times. Hal’s answer "Because you just cannot see a self like that, as long as you are still ‘in’ that self."

I still have much to do to keep my entitled self quiet. Any ‘Specially Entitled’ self will naturally play a part in having us disown a number of our more sensitive or observant selves who might help warn us about its presence. Parents with strong ‘entitled’ selves also appear to be particularly likely to set up a matching pattern of behaviour in one or more of their children, so the pattern is passed down from generation to generation in the same family. Children of ‘entitled’ parents also tend to marry similarly inclined partners, as part of their adult core belief-adaption bind.  

What Can You Do?

As inner selves go, the ‘Specially Entitled’ self is one of the most difficult of all to facilitate. The chances are that because it fears being unmasked, it will resist anything in the nature of voice dialogue, counselling or therapy as long as life remains reasonably stable. It is sad, but in the end it is usually a case of waiting until the day the ‘Entitled’ self is facing total disaster and usually, by this time, the person’s world has already collapsed around them and is past the point where it can be rebuilt.

I think I was one of the lucky ones thanks to Hal Stone. I have included these notes in the hope that at least a few of my ‘specially entitled’ readers might become aware of the same dangers before it is too late.

The Perils of the 'Specially Entitled'

Inner Self

This particular inner self causes so much conflict in relationships that I believe it deserves a page of its own. The ‘Specially Entitled’ self has an overly strong sense of duty and a belief that part of its ‘god given’ responsibility in life is to make sure other people get things right.

However, combined with this belief is a false sense of being so specially privileged that its role as an authority does not also require it to obey the same rules. The ‘Entitled’ self when active, for example, will convince the person inside whom they are working (the individual they are supposed to protect) that he or she can disregard the negative impact of its actions, yet at the same time criticise others for the same actions.

Its ability to overwhelm other people is so extreme that few people would see it as one of the ‘disempowering’ group. However, despite the initial image presented to the world of its privileged right to influence and control people, the history of leaders with overly active ‘Specially Entitled’ selves suggest they end up sooner or later lost and lonely and wondering what went wrong.