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Voice Dialogue - Inner Self Awareness


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However before you run out on me, let me explain. Those wonderful inner selves that work so hard to protect you from pain, fear and vulnerability do know what they are doing. But, as I have already mentioned, even though they are experts, they can only provide short term protection and in the end whatever it is they are protecting you from remains in place.


This ‘whatever’ is your ‘core pain’. It is a kind of basic emotional sadness that never quite goes away, no matter what you try to do about it. The selves unfortunately cannot do much at all to fix core pain. Instead they work like powerful painkillers that hide those hurt feelings to the point where you can almost forget them (for a short time).


Hiding or healing?

On the other hand, facing your reality and the hurt associated with it, is like coming off painkillers. It’s hard for a start, but the more you learn about your hidden pain, the more you can do to heal it.  It is your new self-awareness that gives you the power to heal the pain. Increasing your understanding and sense of reality combined with developing your grown up aware adult state can lead to a real and permanent cure. But it is never a ‘quick fix’. Healing any emotional core pain takes time and courage.


So why does facing reality require real courage?

Confronting reality is scary. It means looking face to face at some things about me that for a long time I have successfully avoided seeing. It means accepting that while my inner selves were keeping things comfortable for me they were also keeping me safe from the hurt and fear of having to look at things about me that I really needed to see.

When I finally start connecting to reality I need to develop grown up courage as I face a number of different issues (most of them scary or painful) in relation to:


1. The fear that the more I get in touch with my awareness, the more my life is going to change and the more I am going to have to move out of the sheltered comfort zone my inner selves had built for me.


2. Real and appropriate grief about the things I have lost over the years that can never be replaced, for example the devastating understanding that as a child I may have heard people say they loved me but only when I acted the way they wanted me to. The reality which I was too young to see was that there really was no one around who (truly) loved the real me unconditionally or even wanted to know who I really was. Yes it will hurt but I need to process my grief about that.


3. Healthy guilt and shame about things I have done in the past that hurt others, such as the way I ended a relationship; things I would have done differently if I had only had more self- awareness at that time. If only I had been able to handle my reality and could have seen things more clearly at the time.

It hurts to accept that some parts of my life, until now, have been a waste of time or a string of mistakes.


4. Understanding that some past choices including my career, my marriages and my lifestyle were chosen by my inner selves, more to protect me from my core pain, than because these things suited the ‘real me’.


5. Taking my life back from those protector selves (when my self awareness tells me that my old patterns are no longer helping me) is going to be hard and will bring up a whole new set of fears. Pia Mellody compares this to what a lizard must feel each time it grows out of its skin and the pain of shedding the old skin before the new one can take over.


6. If some of my most active inner selves think that they will be totally discarded, as part of the change-over, they will amplify this fear. Inner selves are, at first,  terrified of being sacked or permanently unemployed. The hardest working ones, however respond well to the understanding that they will always be needed and in fact cannot be removed. They also respond positively to the idea of sharing their load with another opposite but functional self. They like the idea that instead of leaving protection up the them alone, as in the past, they can now safely take a short break while the grown up aware adult takes over and “drives the bus” .


7. Awareness that as I grow I may have to find new ways (and develop more grown up adult boundaries) to protect me when a partner, family members or old friends fail to understand and appreciate my growth into adult self awareness. It will hurt but I may need to break contact with them for a while as well as with anyone else who wants me to stay locked inside my old inner self driven lifestyle.

Note: Distancing and breaking contact is a crude but functional boundary but should only be used as a last resort with people who themselves have no boundaries or refuse to acknowledge that you are using your own boundaries in a healthy way.

Distancing or breaking contact should never be introduced with blame or anger. Instead explain quietly ”I need to create this space around myself (or distance myself from you) in order to protect myself.”


8. One more source of fear comes with my recognition that growing in awareness and adopting an adult lifestyle also makes me a more powerful person in every way. From past experience, many people associate becoming ‘powerful’ with being ‘unlovable’ or abandoned. Until this belief is resolved this fear may be enough by itself to block most real growth.


9. The real fear of having to start living life without relying on the protection of those inner selves that up ‘till now have been looking after me and instead handing over to a new and untried part of me called my ‘grown up aware adult’.


My selves and I have yet to discover that my self-aware adult system (my ‘grown up part’) really is strong enough to face even the most scary realities about me. If you remember that the inner selves are mainly childlike in nature you can appreciate how the pain and fear connected with all this will appear to be more than they can handle. This happens to be true.


Besides the selves truly don’t know how to make the changes nor do they know how to fit in with life after the changes have happened. This is why the selves usually tend to say ‘no’ to the whole idea of growing awareness, try to slow it down or even sabotage it in other ways.


This is grown up’s work

So one of the keys to successful personal growth is the understanding that the selves are not the parts of us that are expected to make anything happen. In the "Growing Awareness" books you will come across the saying that ‘this is grown up’s work’ another way of suggesting that you can’t leave your plans for growing up to the selves and expect much to change.


Timing is important

On the other hand, not feeling ready may be a sign that you really are not ready. The time is right only when your aware adult side is strong enough. You will know when this is, and more importantly your inner selves will know too and this is the point where they will tell you that they are willing to take a rest and allow the changes to begin. This is also why timing your personal growth is so important.


So the first step towards change is getting in touch with your aware adult. Fortunately this is easy and not at all frightening. It is already present within you, even though you may not have recognised it. Most people describe their first conscious connection with their aware adult as ‘warm’, ‘comfortable’ or ‘like coming home’. At that point, most people also start to feel more comfortable about making changes or experimenting with new ways of living life. However it is important not to throw the newly found aware adult into the front line and ask it to deal immediately with major life problems.


In the beginning, you need to convince the inner selves that making major changes in your life is ‘grown up’s work’ not their responsibility. In fact, convincing the inner selves of this is often quite difficult. They are so used to taking responsibility for fixing things. The more responsible an inner self has been in the past, the harder it will be to get its cooperation. The stronger rule maker self in particular, can set up all kinds of barriers to block a change-over.


Combine its efforts with a strong ‘inner patriarch’ and you will hear inner messages like for example:


‘Nobody likes a woman who is too independent’. He will leave us.’

‘She won’t feel safe with you any more once she finds out what you are really like under your tough mask.’

‘Don’t even think about changing. Stick with the old way, you know it works.’


Other selves can come in as well to question the change:       

‘What if they don’t like us as much when we act like an adult?

This new awareness thing doesn’t seem half as interesting. The old way may have been more risky but with all that drama and intensity it seemed like we were living life in the fast lane.’

Combine messages like these with the pain of facing reality and you can expect the growth of awareness to come to a temporary halt. This happens for a short time, with up to one third of all people when they start their climb towards true reality. It takes a while for the ‘responsible’ selves to check the aware adult out and decide how safe it is to hand over. 

To continue with their growth, people in this situation find it helps to talk about their concerns and look at which selves might be most worried over plans for future ‘growing awareness’. A friend or a counsellor who has had similar experiences with blockages is often a help. One of the best places is in a voice dialogue group.


Take your time - don’t rush

This is one place where people should take their time and allow the growth of awareness to proceed at a reasonable pace. Like those lizards who are shedding their old skins we may need to lie quietly in the sun and let nature do its work. Pushing too hard at this point will only increase the fear. 


First learn more about the reasons behind that core pain and where, when and why it developed. Then and only then will you be ready to deal with it in an adult way. The good news is that your aware adult side can heal your core pain over a reasonably short time. Then the inner selves can relax a little more and the growth of awareness can continue.





Feedback - please e-mail  me John Bligh Nutting -   at   bligh3@growingaware.com

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This could hurt a bit.....


You might recall a doctor sometime in the past saying ‘This could hurt a bit....’ and you might recall that what the doctor really meant was ‘This is going to hurt plenty! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.’


In the same way, I need to warn you that personal growth that involves facing reality and becoming more self aware is going to involve some emotional pain.


Oh! Alright ...quite a bit of emotional pain..... and it could be a bit scary as well.