Growing Awareness and Classic Voice Dialogue - Similarities and Differences -




1. Different terms - Growing Awareness and Classic Voice dialogue

Most of the characters that we talk about in these pages, work the same way and do the same things as they do in the world of Classic Voice Dialogue.

The main difference that you will notice is that the terms we use appear to help people to visualise what is going on. That seems to make it much easier to understand, because what we are talking about is then able to be related to images that are already familiar. I have explained (in a separate article) the somewhat more complex psychological reasons why this might work.

But for the time being a brief explanation is that the easier it is to visualise something, the more likely that the Inner selves and inner children find they can grasp we are talking about.

The one exception to this is the "rational analytical mind", who of course is used to processing abstract information. But the mind just happens to be the one inner character who has the greatest difficulty connecting to our feelings and emotions.

And since most of the deepest problems we are dealing with are emotionally based, talking to the mind about issues like for example, "vulnerability" doesn’t seem too help the rest of the selves to deal with  feelings of vulnerability. Whenever we are dealing with what is going on emotionally inside us we need to talk to the characters inside who are most closely connected to those feelings.

The less abstract and the easier it is too visualise the way  the emotion is being processed, the faster your Inner selves (and your inner child) can understand, accept and agree with what you are trying to explain to them. And it's only after you get agreement from the Inner selves and the inner child, that anything significant really seems to happen, in terms of making changes in a person's life that really amount to something.

My experience over the last 18 months is that both the person you are working with,  their Inner child and their most active  inner selves find they can use what they have learned from dialogue a great deal faster than they could when I explained things using classic Voice Dialogue terms.

Here if is a list of some of the "language" that we use in this alternative storytelling approach


Abstract terms

 Easy to visualise,
escriptive terms

The Inner selves (as a group)
  "Inner Villagers"
Inner self inner villager - any character who lives or works in the inner village
Primary self  Active villager - a character who lives in the inner village who is very active or plays a significant role in the village. Also known as a Type A (for Active)
Operating ego  the Old Village - the older part of the inner village. Where they often say "That's the way we've always done it."
inner child
 If you wanted to talk to one of your own children about something that was worrying them,  you would get a better response if you used their name, rather than calling them "my child".
(first name) of inner child   - It is much easier to visualise our inner child when we use his or her first  name.
And this in turn makes much easier to dialogue directly with this important member of the inner village.
vulnerability visualised as a bog or swamp  with very slippery edges, somewhere in the village. It is all too easy to fall in and much harder to get out again. It's a place of powerlessness and feelings of devastation. Most of the main characters in the Inner Village play some part in trying to stop each other and the inner child from falling into the swamp. And a number of them are closely connected with helping rescue those who do fall in.
disowned self Discredited or expelled villager - one who has been exiled or expelled from the village and who wanders, lost  somewhere in the deep dark forest nearby

Voice dialogue


a conversation, discussion or meeting with any character who lives in the inner village, including the inner child
Facilitator   the person having a friendly chat with an inner villager and talking about life in the village - interviewer
Separation  each time someone goes up on awareness hill behind the village and looks at the view below they get a little more clarity about what is going on inside them. They can then see that each villager inside them is a separate character. They can also separate what one villager thinks, says, does or feels from other villagers and even more importantly separate that villager from their aware adult (the part of them that can look at things from up on the hill or outside the village )
another person's operating ego   someone else's inner village
inner patriarch Village patriarch -  who lives in the inner village. A very significant character. Often still described as the inner patriarch
inner matriarch Village matriarch - another very important character found in the Inner Village. Often still described as the inner matriarch
inner mother ideal or Magic Mother
inner father Ideal or Magic father

Aware ego and awareness 

The nature of the aware ego is such that I doubt that it is possible to come up with a visual metaphor. As far as I know no one has ever visualised an aware ego anyway, nor do they need to.

Visualising Growing Awareness

On the other hand it does help newcomers to this work if they create a visual image of a place on the hill, a place where they can observe things going on that are similar to what happens when a person is operating in their aware ego. (Balanced opposites, integration, teamwork, reconnecting to disowned energies and so on)

There is certainly a point where a person doing this work notices that their attitude to solving their problems is changing and they making significant changes in their life. Youi can visualise this as being closely connected with the creation in their mind of a new village built higher up on the hill. Let's call this "Awareness Village". 

It's certainly nowhere near the Aware ego in Classic Voice Dialogue but, once people create a clear visual image of Awareness Village on their own hill it does seem to help them get one step closer to the energetic concept of the so very difficult to define, explain or visualise "aware ego".



2. Additional  Village Characters not found in Classic Voice Dialogue
Classic Voice Dialogue teachers  tend to call any opposite self a "disowned" even when it is just opposite and though weaker is clearly still active in the person's life. For me the term "disowned"  only applies to characters who are clearly out of the village and totally or almost always inaccessible. 

Disowned are only one kind of opposite

A truly "disowned" or discredited energetic opposite of a Primary self  (that is a typical Active inner villager ) might be for example the opposite to a strong active A "peacekeeper". The peacekeeper a long time ago arranged for its opposite "open  honest and blunt" to be discredited, exiled and disowned. 
That means the individual may just not be able to access their "open and honest" at all or only with great difficulty. Characters who have been exiled don't get back easily because the Active primary does not want them back at all. 

But this is not the only kind of opposite as I explain below. As I see it, there are several other kinds of selves that are "opposite" in the energetic sense but still quite active in their own way, for example the Backup (B) Private (P) and Complex (C)  types and the Refugees. Here's how I distinguish the different kinds of opposites in the inner village. 

Active or primary villagers (A Types)
These are the ones we are familiar with. The primary selves. The are easy to identify, easy to talk with. The do what they say they are doing. And they are active.

Backup or type B villager
Another very common kind of
energetic opposite (of a Primary self or Active type) and one who is definitely not disowned nor discredited is the Backup or B type inner villager. This kind of opposite's job is to step in when for any reason the type A villager is unable to do their usual job
Example: Primary A type is a peacekeeper. But when it fails to protect the vulnerable inner child the B type warrior is quickly on the scene. Temporarily the B becomes the primary self in the village. But once it's job is done it goes into the background until needed again. Notice how very different in energy and behaviour  the B is compared with the inaccessible discredited exile character.

Active Type A    

Backup Type B

super responsible philosophical
responsible caretaker self nurturer
procrastinator pusher
rational analytical thinker artist, creative
rebel well-behaved
romantic practical
extroverted quiet and withdrawn
clown thoughtful
peacekeeper, don't rock the boat warrior, defender

3. Discredited, Exiled or disowned (D types) 

Here I make a distinction that differs from Classic Voice Dialogue. But it is one that I feel is essential to clarify what is happening in the inner village.

Classic or Biblical disowning - the "real" disowned
The observation that a stronger self  will expel or remove other selves because they appear to be "troublemakers" is all too true.  The term "disowning" especially in the Biblical sense is a remarkably accurate description for this process (though not an easy one to visualise). Think of it this way. The "disowned" character was once an active member of the village. For example in a James  it was his sensitivity and his ability to tap into his emotions,  his "feeling" self. To James's primary "macho" self this feeling character was seen as a constant source of shame, guilt and loss of status amongst James's friends. The "macho" identified James's feeler self as a major cause of  as trouble. And so the decision was made. It had to be expelled.

After that, James stopped experiencing emotions and became a very tough character. 

His feelings character was not only turned out into the desert. In addition what it used to do is never even discussed in his inner village. Its original existence is denied. Any suggestion that the feelings might be able to return is vigorously denied and opposed.  And yet James's feeling character still exists. Somewhere out there in the deep dark forest the character survives, and waits for its opportunity to come back ..... 
As Hal and Sidra Stone have shown in case after case, the  effect of this is subtle but can  have a strong effect on your life.
James marries a woman who has disowned her strong warrior woman character and is constantly experiencing out of control emotional outbursts. This is not a co-incidence! It is his exiled feelings using his wife to get back into James's life. 
Whatever characters you  have disowned can have an extremely powerful effect on your life as explained in my separate Classic Voice Dialogue pages - Effects of Disowning and   Identifying Disowned Selves within you)

So for that kind of disowned and discredited character the term is absolutely accurate., Classic Voice Dialogue teachers, however  tend to use the term more widely, describing any opposite self as "disowned" even when it is just an energetic opposite of a primary Active one. 
But, though secondary, some of these characters are clearly still active in the person's life or inner village. They talk to us. Some fix problems, some cause problems. They often do important specialist jobs in the village. They are often observed as parts of common repetitive patterns, good and not so good.  So they can't possibly be the same as the exiled, discredited or true disowneds. 

This is why I like to identify and talk about several other kinds of selves that are "opposite" in the energetic sense but still quite active in their own way, for example:

For me the term "disowned"  (D) only applies to characters who are clearly outside the village and totally or almost always inaccessible. That is, unless you set up an active process for returning them to the village. And before you do that, you need to get the agreement of the Active villager who expelled them in the first place. (This is a more complex process but I will describe it in a later page (link to come -new pages to be written on this)


Other places in the Inner Village

The  The Complex corner

The Safe Place (new pages to come on this)

The marketplace (new pages to come on this)

The Private or Walled Off Section (new pages to come on this)
The River  and the Bridges (new pages to come on this)

Other linked pages .....  (ALL ADDED JANUARY 2004)

Why tell stories rather than talk psychology? - Added 08 February  2004

How do you measure the effectiveness of inner self work? 2004

A search for a way to speed up the changes and to make them last longer

Guidelines to working with Inner villagers -2004

Life in the Inner  village -2004 

A fable about using fables

A deeper psychological discussion of the theory behind the experimental Village and the Awareness Hill storytelling approach - 2004

Fights where inner matriarchs and inner patriarchs take over

Carried villagers - "refugees" from someone else's village


Feedback - please e-mail  me John Bligh Nutting -   at

Copyright © John Nutting 1996- - 2004  and   ©   GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE  Thursday, 07 February 2008 17:31

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