Centuries of introspection has shown that we, for all practical purposes, are made of many “parts.” You know, part of me wants to go to the family event and part of me wants to do anything but that. Part of me sits on my right shoulder and tells me how to be good and part of me sits on my left shoulder and tells me how to be bad. Part of me wants to knock my assignments right after I get them and part of me wants to wait to the last minute of Sunday evening. And so on.
Most days we flit between various parts taking center stage and donning our body and doing its thing through us. That actor leaves the stage and we sort go along in neutral for a few days. By next week, a different part comes forward with its mood fog and we are in and act of a funk. So goes our month.
Parts are formed in our heads as things we learn from our family members, peers, and society. They can start as we copy someone’s attitude, beliefs, style, perspectives, the way they carry themselves, their tone of voice, words, etc. Our head takes these seeds and shapes them into something like personifications–sometimes close copies of those who put these ideas into our head and sometimes as general poetic renderings.
So large part of psyche is structured in the shape of people. This is our core programming as we age and move about in the world. We are actors, sometimes playing our unique selves but very often playing the roles of others.
How Parts Can Keep Us From Creative Engagement
Undoubtedly, in our vast cast of parts, we have some that aren’t lined up to help us do our creative work. They have their own agendas to follow. Some pull us to move towards those things they favor. For instance, a part we can call The Spa Recluse is that part that wants to hide out from the world by melting away into our best passive selves at the spa, all-inclusive resort, the large park, the museum, or anywhere that feels indulgent and where we get attention.
Others like: I’m Not Moving From the Couch Slouch; Mr. Burnout; Lost in a Weekend TV Show Marathon; It’s Too Late in the Evening to Start Something New; I Don’t Want to Talk To Anybody; Following a Wild Hair—want us to move towards what they favor and throw off clear messages that even the idea of doing something else is not where we should go. These jealous parts signal this by a slight feeling of repulsion in our gut, head, and hearts towards the idea of doing something involving work. Yuck. Don’t go there.
Parts can also shape what we do by helping us “forget” some of the things we promised ourselves that we want to do. Active parts keep us so busy we remember everything on our things to do list, but our creative work. Parts can put us into a cloud of amnesia dust.
Parts have real power. They largely control you and what you do, feel, think, and sense.
Steps to Finding Your Non-Working Parts
If we get good at spotting parts of all types, we can see who is on stage at a particular moment, who is shoving and shouting hard to get up there, and spot which parts are being ignored. Recognition of active parts is a huge first step. In a later post, we will look at how to learn from and negotiate with the parts.
Step 1: Look inside your head/heart/guts and ask the question: Who doesn’t want to work?
A good way to kick off possibilities is by remembering your best times when you were the most relaxed, the most carefree, and the times you were the most exhausted and had to withdraw. These instances can be large experiences or small events such as the part of you who enjoys a cup of coffee.
Step 2: Can you give a title to each of these you’s? This will greatly help you to understand what you have found and to spot these parts of you when they pop up later. If you can, sketch out a profile of each.
Don’t rush these steps. Take time to get to know each of your parts as if they were a person that just walked in the door and told you that they were a long-lost close relative. Indeed, they are.