I wonder about myself sometimes. Occasionally I hear these audacious statements coming out of my mouth, and I wonder… I look in my closet at some of the fashion disasters that I have brought home from the mall, and I wonder… I look down and realize that I ate the whole thing, and I wonder… Who is running the show here? Driving back from yoga class recently, I got caught in rush hour traffic. I was suddenly shifted from a supple, serene yoga goddess, into an anxious and unforgiving driver. Did someone else just take over my body? Do aliens have control of my brain? Maybe I have multiple personalities?
Well, as I have contemplated this conundrum, I have begun to understand that there is more than one voice, more than one “you”, inside of you, as in me. There is a self inside you that tells you to brush your teeth three times a day, get eight hours of sleep a night, and wear a sweater cause it could get chilly. There is a voice in your head that says, “you are tired, you worked so hard today, you should sit on the couch and watch TV tonight and eat pizza. You deserve it.” There is a self that says, “she is just jealous of me, because I am…I have…I am better”. And yet, there is another self that says, “you’re not good enough, your too…your not…you should be more…”. How can such a dichotomy exist?
Dr. Brugh Joy offers some insights in his book “Avalanche” in a chapter entitled “One Body-Many Selves”. Dr. Joy suggests the possibility that, “the basis of the human psyche…both the conscious and the unconscious aspects…may be a collective of selves, independent and autonomous yet interrelating with one another, and mostly unknown to the outer awareness. Just as the body is a collective of well-defined patterns of energy identified as organ systems, the psyche…is a collective of well-defined patterns of forces discerned as selves.”
As I explored this possibility, it became clear to me how I can have an blissful experience of oneness in a yoga class, and then a few hours later look in the mirror and criticize a particular part of my body. Why I eat chocolates after an hour of fitness walking. Or why, after researching and writing about the ethical discipline of non-judgement, I criticize a performer or politician on television. How can this disparity exist within one person? Well, there are different me’s inside of me that have different ways of absorbing, processing, and responding to the world around me. To achieve any kind of success in this world via career, family, relationships, or self-growth, it is essential that we begin to understand that we have more than one identity within ourselves. Once you become conscious of these different selves, you can begin to utilize these selves to achieve the goals of your higher self.
If you would like to experience this in your own inner world, all you have to do is take some time every day to observe your thoughts. On your drive to work, at lunch with friends, during your exercise session, after dinner, and just before bed, observe the voices in your head. Observe the tone and attitude of your thoughts, and where they want to take you. As you simply observe your thoughts, you will begin to see yourself from a different perspective. And, from this perspective, a real picture of what makes you you will be revealed. As you become more aware, you can be far more discerning as to the options that are available in any given moment. Once you can observe, then you can choose which self to give power to. You can decide to team up with the you that wants chocolate cake, or you can empower the you that wants to lose a few kilos to step away from the fridge. You can step up to the microphone even when you are feeling anxious. You can stick to the budget that you wrote. You can stay calm in rush hour traffic. Once you have observed your inner selves, you can choose how you will act, react, and respond to the world within you, and the world outside of you. This step in self-discovery is essential to busting through the barriers in your life to achieving your ultimate goals.
Practice this exercise daily for 21 days, then next month we will discuss what to do with your observations to take this exercise to the next level. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. I look forward to receiving your feedback from this exercise.
First Published in the Mind Body Messenger newsletter 2003