Befriending Your Self

The relationship we have with our Selves underpins all other relationships in our lives.

Without a compassionate, open acceptance of who we are in all our colours and parts, we are in pieces and therefore not a strong, cohesive unit that is free and safe to explore, expand, relate, connect, and experience with others and outside of our Selves. 

Often we will notice that we have different parts to our personality or Self. Perhaps there are parts we "like" (a judgment) and parts we dislike or judge as "bad, ugly, shameful, embarrassing" etc. 

Below is an exercise created by the wonderful Linda Graham MFT (see the link below to her website) around identifying the different parts of yourself and getting to know them better, understand or notice their gifts and accept that, together, they are what makes up the YOU that is you. 

The value of this exercise is that you begin to see that we are all made up of different parts and when we are less accepting of one part or another, we are in judgment of ourselves. As we judge ourselves, we treat those parts of ourselves differently - perhaps with less care, love and understanding.

Therein lies the disconnect and separation. From that place of judgment, we self-abandon, quit or leave our Selves lonely, alone, shunned, not-belonging, ashamed, sad, frightened and open to seeking to avoid all of that experience by looking outside our Selves for comfort and acceptance. 

Befriending Yourself by Accepting the Many Parts of Yourself

 1. Settle comfortably in your seat. Allow your eyes to gently close. Focus your attention on your breathing. Rest comfortably in the awareness of simply being.

2. When you're ready, imagine you are outside a theater. Imagine the building, the doors, the posters outside. Walk up to one of the doors, open it, and walk into the lobby. Open another door and walk into the empty theater. Walk all the way down to the first or second row and take a seat in the center of the row. An empty stage lies in front of you. All is quiet.

3. Now imagine that the first figure to come out on the stage is your wiser self, standing in the center. This figure that represents all the qualities you aspire to: wisdom, strength, courage, compassion, competence, acceptance.

4. Now imagine other characters coming on to the stage one by one. Each of these imaginary characters embodies a particular quality in yourself. These characters could be people you know, yourself at a different age, people you know from the movies or history or literature, animals, or cartoon characters.

The first character embodies a quality in yourself that you really, really like. Take a moment to let that character take the stage and remember it (perhaps make a note).

A second character comes on stage embodying another positive quality in yourself. Again let that character materialize on the stage and remember it.

A third character comes on stage embodying yet another positive quality about yourself. Let the character materialize, and remember it.

Look carefully at these three characters, which embody three different, positive qualities in yourself, standing with your wiser self. Take a moment to notice and remember them all.

Now bring a fourth character to the stage that embodies a quality in yourself that you really don't like all that much. In fact, you wish it weren't part of you, but you know it is. Let this character materialize and take a moment to remember it.

Bring on a fifth character that embodies another negative quality in you.

Bring on one last character embodying just one more negative quality in yourself.

Take a moment to materialize all these characters, remember them, jot them down 

5. Now you have on stage your wiser self, three characters embodying positive qualities, and three characters embodying negative qualities. Ask each character in turn what special gift they bring to you by being part of you: ask the positive ones first, then the negative ones. As you listen to their responses, notice what lessons you learn from their being a part of you. Each one has some wisdom or learning to offer.

6. Next, ask your wiser self what gifts and lessons these parts have to offer you. Listen carefully for the answers.

7. Briefly thank each character for coming to be with you. Watch as they leave the stage one by one, the wiser self last. Then imagine yourself getting up out of your seat and walking back up the aisle, through the lobby and back outside the theater. Turn around to look at the theater where all this happened. Then slowly come to awareness again of sitting quietly, and when you're ready, open your eyes.

8. Take a moment to remember and embrace the lessons of each of these six characters, especially the negative ones: each is an integral part of you, essential to your wholeness.

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