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Voice Dialogue - Inner Self Awareness

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This is very similar to the disowning process within us. Some of the selves we disown are truly beautiful, often part of our most authentic personality, but they just don't obey or agree with the strict rules that apply in our family of origin.

Let’s get back to what happened to the disowned individual in the old days. As punishment but often more as a sacrifice to make up for the family’s public shame not only was the disobedient son cast out of the family physically, and forbidden to return but in addition all his possessions, anything that might remind people of his existence  were destroyed. If they had had photographs in those days they would have all been burned.

His name was never allowed to be mentioned again in the family. Everything was done to erase the memory of his ever having been a part of the family. Nobody ever talked again about anything he had done even as a child, not even the good things he might have done. Nobody ever discussed whether or not what he was supposed to have done was really so awful or if it might have been due to a misunderstanding.

Nobody ever questioned whether the rule that he broke was a fair and just rule.

And above all nobody ever talked about finding him or forgiving him or allowing him to return to the family.

When we disown a particular self it's much the same as this.

A stronger primary self (for example the inner critic or the rule maker or perhaps the perfectionist) will always react if it sees another inner self increasing our vulnerability by breaking rules or causing people in power to become angry. In serious cases the powerful primary self might be correct in its assessment that if the troublemaker self continued to exist in the inner family (or what I call the inner village) it could lead to severe or painful  punishment, or threaten the big three that define our ability to exist in the world, sanity, safety and self.

All this is more likely to happen from very early childhood up to age 15 and 16. But disowning an inner self can still happen at any time in a person’s life.


One reason could disowning a self is that it actually threatens our survival or our sanity

1. A young girl who is being sexually abused tries to fight back. The male perpetrator threatens her with terrifying reprisals even death if she refuses to cooperate. Her stronger compliant self recognises that in the interests of her safety her " I can say no" self needs to be disowned or exiled permanently because it would subject her to extreme terror, brutal punishment or loss of her life if it were to come out and speak at the wrong time.

Another reason for disowning self is shame-based rather than pain-based.

2. A young boy expresses his feelings or emotions authentically but this is treated by his family as shameful and he becomes the source of scorn and teasing. His stronger male macho self decides that it's best for all concerned if the feeling self is disowned or expelled especially if the shaming becomes less after the disowning.

Often the reason for disowning is both shame-based and pain-based.

3. A young boy reacts spontaneously to events around him with joy and exhilaration, but not much forward thinking about the consequences. He is told constantly that he must stop and think before he reacts and that if he doesn't he will be shamed and suffer big problems all his life. His stronger rational analytical self decides that his joyous spontaneous self needs to be disowned or expelled permanently because his temporary joy is outweighed by the long tem danger and disgrace that follows each time his spontaneous self is allowed to take over.

That's why we don't recognise our own disowned selves.

Part of the disowning process is that all the other selves act as if the disowned ones were never there in the first place, very much like the biblical family used to do So it would be easy to imagine that because they’re no longer around they don't have any influence on our lives.

Let's go back to the biblical family again. On the surface the disowned son has been completely forgotten because no one ever talks about him. Everyone "pretends" that they don't even think about him. But each morning when his mother wakes up she thinks about him, worries about him, wonders where he is and what he is doing. And she continues to use a lot of emotional energy to bottle those thoughts and feelings throughout her day. Other family members are doing the same thing every day, but nobody admits it. It is exactly same with our disowned selves, a lot of energy gets used up pretending that they are totally forgotten and making sure that we don't consciously make some reference to them or even stop to wonder why we don’t have them.

 Disowned selves still influence our lives sometimes powerfully

The young girl in the first example, even when she grows up still  uses a lot of energy to make sure that she never says "no" to men, and concentrates on being overly compliant or even becoming a doormat. When she does this her inner critic will blame her for up or not standing up herself, but she cannot just go back to saying “no” because that self has been disowned.

The boy in the second example becomes a man but he still cannot access his feelings. That means that he has blocked a very important part of his authentic individuality. That not only takes a lot of energy but also can lead to health problems and major relationship issues.

As a grown man in the third example, this person becomes overly rational and analytical. He doesn’t do anything spontaneously,  he is irritated by other people who undertake unplanned spontaneous activities.  This serves him well in terms of a career path, but not in his personal life. (OK at this stage I need to make it clear that am writing about my own history here. I used to find myself reacting negatively to any kind of surprise, even surprise birthday parties!)

But if that doesn’t convince you that your disowned selves still have an influence in your life, the next bit certainly will. In fact this is the biggest influence of all. I explain this in more detail on separate pages on  my websites and in the Growing Awareness books.

Whatever you have disowned you will attract back into your life.

Whatever the basic energy in your disowned selves might be you will find yourself unconsciously but powerfully connecting with people who have primary selves with that particular energy active in their personality.They in turn will find you and connect with you, if one of your primary selves is one of their disowneds. It’s almost like two magnets interacting and it’s just as powerful.  

The connection can be very positive or it can be very negative and it can switch from one to the other rapidly so connecting this way is seldom good news.

The girl in our first example will find herself repeatedly involved with strong forthright men who will control her (because she can't say “no”). But after she gets involved with them she will react strongly against them. One might be her boss at work, with whom she will develop a strong negative bonding pattern.  Another one might be her new boyfriend who at the beginning she finds very attractive, because of his strength. With him she might form a positive bonding pattern. Both are driven by the same attraction or repulsion energy coming from her disowned selves that caused her to connect with each of these men. I explain a lot more about  Bonding patterns on another page but whether they’re positive or negative the bonds they create cannot result in a good relationship or even a good friendship.

2. Meanwhile as soon as the primary self in you that originally did the expulsion sees someone who has an inner self that is active (and which resembles the self that it disowned) it will be start building a negative reaction because it is worried about your disowned self returning. It worries because through the other person you have rediscovered and reconnected with an energy that reminds you about your disowned self . Your primary selves thought they had got rid of the the troublesome one long ago! Now your disowneds even though they seemed totally exiled and far far away are playing a major part in influencing your choice of friends and partners!

The men in the second and third examples will almost always be attracted at first to overly emotional and overly spontaneous people both as friends and partners. These people are "holding" the  individual’s disowned self as one of their primary selves. And they in turn may have disowned their rational analytical think-ahead before you act self. None of the people involved know why, but both people feel a strong "mutual" attraction.  

Little do they realise that this so-called “attraction” is largely driven by the energies of their two disowned selves. But after a while, particularly if they work together or become partners each person will begin reacting more and more negatively when they observe that characteristic in the other person’s personality.  The female might  react negatively to the man's overly rational personality. The overly think and plan ahead man will become extremely critical of the same spontaneous unplanned activities that he used to find exciting. .

Typically each partner will begin to find the other person's primary selves so unbearable that  they will each start fighting, criticising and attacking the other person's selves and of course trying to get the other person to change . This by the way is known as "God's gift to relationship counsellors!

What you can do about reconnecting to your disowned selves

I will explain this in more detail on separate pages. The good news is that you can bring your disowned selves back again. They have only been exiled not totally lost, and you should now be able to see that more clearly as you observe the amazing influence they still have on you. You might compare them to a rebel leader who has been exiled from his native country. The government is convinced that he deserves to remain in exile for the rest of his life, they don’t expect him to return. But the rebel leader is busy plotting and planning all the time gathering the energy to launch a counter revolution. He has his supporters working underground on his behalf. All he is waiting for is the opportunity to come back.

Your disowned selves have a very similar attitude and energy.

That is why you should always avoid trying to try to bring them back too suddenly. That would be like bringing the rebel leader back overnight and without any warning. Just like the government in power who expelled the rebel leader, the primary self that did the disowning will then react in a very negative way and may even succeed in disowning the rebel self a second time perhaps permanently.

First you need the primary self to give permission for the disowned to return

The first thing you need to do is to identify the primary self, the one that did the disowning and then dialogue with that self. It is important to obtain its agreement on several issues:

1. It may need to be reassured that the self that it disowned is no longer a danger or will no longer present a serious problem

2. It will definitely need to be reassured that the return of the disowned will not cause major instability.
3. It’s best if it can also be reassured that balancing opposite selves is very functional and helpful to the individual, where continuing to keep any self disowned can lead to serious problems including health and relationship issues.

4. If a disowned has a very strong energy it may also be important to allow the disowning primary self permission to keep the disowned in check after it returns. Some primary selves worry that the returning disowned may become so powerful that it in turn into the primary self!  The primary self needs to be reassured that this cannot happen. Sidra Stone suggests explaining to the primary self that all that may be necessary is the return of a  “homoeopathic drop” of the disowned self.

See additional notes on this  (link to come here)

After that there are various ways of bringing the disowned self back. The best way I have found is a simple visualisation where one of the aware integrated grown-up selves goes out into the “deep dark forest” outside the Inner village to find the exiled self.

Sometimes it is hiding behind a tree, often it is in a cave,  during the visualisation a disowned self sometimes calls out and says something like ”Here I am” or “Please can I come back?”

The grown-up self then embraces the the disowned self and escorts it (or carries it) back again and reconnects it to the rest of the inner family or inner village as I call it.   It is better to have a facilitator take you through this visualisation, but if you can’t arrange that you can set the try doing it on your own. Just make sure that it is one of your grown-up part is that does the visualisation not your inner child trying to help. This is grown-up ‘s work

If you’re familiar with voice dialogue you will then understand the next step which is described as balancing the two opposite energies. I will explain about this on a separate page.

See additional notes on this  (link to come here)

How and Why does disowning happen?

I like to start with the analogy of an old tradition from Biblical times. A son would be "disowned" by his family because he had done something that in the eyes of his family was totally abhorrent or unforgivable particularly if it brought shame on the family . However, in reality it may have been that all he had actually done was break one of the family's strict rules or defy a parent's authority.

Come to think of it, in some societies this tradition still exists to this day, although now it is often applied more to “disobedient” daughters than to rebel sons.