Parts of Self Are Really Trying to Help
© by Mary DuParri, MA, LPC

Are there parts of yourself that you do not like? Do you sometimes wish that you did not have an angry part or a shy part or some other part that gets in the way of you being who you want to be? Do you feel, at times, that you have been hijacked by your emotions or that you are reacting to things in extreme ways that do not reflect who you really are?

Most of us have parts like that. We have parts that may be triggered by circumstances, by other people or by issues from the past. We have parts that silence us though we say we want to be assertive. We have parts that help us stay unnoticed though we feel lonely. We have parts that push us so hard to work and be successful that we barely have time for fun. Or, parts that push so much toward fun that we have a hard time following through and being successful at work or school. We have parts of self that worry too much and get anxious, or parts that get angry or sad more often than we like. We have parts of that cry too much, eat or drink too much or sleep too much.

Many of us try numerous ways to get rid of these negative parts of ourselves. We try ignoring them. We try distracting ourselves with positive thoughts or activities. We set personal goals and create steps to reach them. We get motivated and focused and decide that once and for all we are going to overcome our negative traits. And somehow, the traits keep coming back.

Do you wonder why, though we are smart and well intentioned, we cannot get rid of these negative parts of self? It is because the parts are trying to help us and they will not go away until they are certain that we are okay. They are not trying to make us anxious or sad or fat. They are trying to protect us from harm or diminish some hurt and trying to remove them is like trying to remove a SWAT team before the danger is past. They will not go away. So, instead of silencing or banishing these parts, what if we began to understand them? What if we tried to figure out the internal messages to see how they are trying to help? As parts of self are more understood by us, they take less extreme roles in our lives and begin to serve as internal advisors rather than hijacking our emotions and behavior.

Take a look at the following ways that a so-called negative part may be trying to help. Though these examples may not ring true for you, use the list as a springboard to examine your own parts of self, to ask how they are trying to help and to become more open to your own internal wisdom.

A part that hates us to feel rejected may tell us to wait until we are smarter, thinner or something-er to start really living.
A part that thinks we do not play enough may make us procrastinate.
A part that knows how bad failure feels wants us to avoid risks and big challenges.
A part that does not want us to look stupid keeps us from asking for help.
A part that fears our feelings can be overwhelming keeps us emotionally numb or confused.
A part that does not want us to be selfish, pleases others and puts our own needs on hold.
A part that keeps us inside our comfort zone has witnessed first hand why it does not seem safe outside.
A part that prevents us from making waves wants to protect us from other people’s reactions.
A part that silences us does not want us to impose on others or seem like a bully.
A part that keeps us from trying something new just does not want us to be hurt.

When we realize how these parts of self are trying to help, we become more accepting of them. We become like a collaborative team with our parts of self instead of either denying them or being overshadowed by them.
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