I had been labeled with “multiple personality disorder,” which was not helpful. But today I I feel completely integrated. The key to my integration has been self-acceptance, which we hear a lot about, but what does it mean to accept ourselves and how can we learn to do so?
The way I think of it is that I have many different parts or aspects of myself. Some are repressed and hidden and they stay that way because I’m critical of them. I believe we all have these disenfranchised parts of ourselves, and they offer us the opportunity to grow.
In the 80’s and 90’s we talked about the “inner child.” Based on my experience, I believe we all have inner children and until we accept and integrate them we will struggle needlessly.
I think most of us can acknowledge that we have wounded parts, frightened parts and parts of ourselves that feel young or ill prepared to face the world calmly, confidently and maturely. Perhaps we also have sad parts and many of us will resonate with having an angry, frustrated or stubborn part.
A New Approach
After many years of searching for help I came upon Jake and Hannah Eagle’s work, which they call “Reology”. I wasn’t a novice when it came to working with myself, but all the work I had previously done was in safety consciousness. Only recently, as I’ve learned how to work with heart consciousness have I become able to gracefully and lovingly work with my repressed inner children. Previously, my inner explorations were, at times, a bit dramatic because I was anxious and afraid of my parts and they were unsure and nervous about me suddenly paying attention to them.
The most effective tools in working with these parts is learning to navigate my levels of consciousness and to approach each part of myself with the intention of finding their gifts.
Working with my parts is much easier now because I have created a degree of safety in my life by establishing healthy boundaries and by learning to behave maturely. It was necessary for me to take some time to discover what type of person I want to be and what qualities I want to embody. I had to teach myself to behave responsibly and to live in a manner that made me feel good about myself.
After I feel safe—emotionally safe—then I can approach my parts from my heart consciousness and doing so changes the tone of our relationship. I used to scare myself when I found a new part that I assumed would be difficult or troublesome. I was afraid of my anger and the depth of my sadness. I daunted myself with my wounded parts and was unsure that I could “handle” the depths of their emotions if I allowed them out of the basement, which is where they hid.
When I elevate my consciousness to my heart center and approach a part of myself with compassion and love I create a completely different experience. When my intention is to explore, discover, accept, embrace and ultimately integrate a part, then I’m able to relax and proceed with curiosity, warmth, and a sense of playfulness—which allows the part of me I’m trying to connect with to relax as well. When I set my intention to be loving and to look for the gift hidden within each part I am creating a loving and open hearted atmosphere and the results have been remarkable.
What are the gifts I have found?
From my wounded parts I have discovered compassion. When I reach out to a wounded part from heart consciousness I connect with their suffering and my desire is to help them heal rather than resist feeling their pain. With practice I become aware that I don’t have to re-wound myself or re-experience their pain, instead when I move toward them with an open heart I am seeking healing. I don’t need to revisit old memories, the pain is here in the present and it can be healed in the present.
From my frightened parts I have learned to listen attentively and be less judgmental. When I imagine a young part of me cowering in a dark room, if I don’t take on the child’s fears, I can be tender and interested instead of being dismissive and judgmental. Usually the child’s fear is an ancient fear that when examined in the present moment is no longer scary. When I stop being judgmental of the scared kid in me, I stop being judgmental of the scared parts I see in you.
From my angry parts I have discovered my boundaries. I have learned that I get angry when people encroach upon my boundaries. I realize that in order to set healthy boundaries I need to define how I want to be treated. If I want to be treated with respect then I need to behave respectfully, and if I want to be treated kindly then I need to be kind. And, I am more easily able to maintain my boundaries when I feel safe because that helps me find my voice.
I continue to discover parts of myself
A particular part of myself that I have been working with recently has given me one of the greatest gifts imaginable—a sense of belonging. When I initially discovered this part of me, I made meaning that she was a sullen and miserable teenager and I projected that working with her would be arduous and depressing. Instead, I experience her as delightful and she is the part of me that holds my beauty, my sexuality, my joy and my sense of belonging.
Before I did this work, I felt separate, from myself and from you. I felt inauthentic and shallow because I kept my passions hidden. I didn’t allow myself to fully embody my passions and creativity because I didn’t feel safe doing so. Embracing this teenage part of myself is showing me how to be present in my own body and to experience myself more fully as a mature, beautiful, sensual and sexy woman. This is the part of me that holds the vision of the woman I always wanted to be when I grew up.
This weekend I am preparing to travel to New Mexico for another Reology retreat. As I go through my days, crossing off items on my to-do list I am aware of this teenager part of me. She is coming with me, she is helping me pack and she has a very different vision of how our life will be in the years to come. Getting to know her, accepting her and now embracing her I am aware of a deep excitement in me.
Each morning as I sit to do my meditation I connect with this teenager in me—I imagine her sitting with me and I converse with her. I close my eyes and I listen closely to her and I invite her to share with me any thoughts, feelings or ideas she might have. And then I do my mediation. And each morning as I connect with her, I feel enthusiasm, joy, playfulness, and the purpose that this part plays in my life. I have a sense of depth and belonging that I have never experienced before and to say that I am grateful is an understatement.
If you’ve been wary of parts of yourself or if you’ve avoided exploring your inner landscape I encourage you to read Jake’s article on the Three Degrees of Consciousness. And I invite you to try on the idea that all the parts of yourself that you are afraid of or don’t like are actually hidden treasures. After all, why would we hide these parts if they weren’t valuable?
(This article was written by a graduate of the Reology Retreats that are conducted by Jake and Hannah Eagle—a woman who is fully embodied, living a joyful life.)