Life in the village

There is one significant difference to when we work with the highly visual image of an inner village, in comparison with the more aural description used in classic voice dialogue. As we get to explore each individual inner village we discover just what a complex place it is.

In the world of classic voice dialogue almost everybody uses the same standard terms, a similar model, to describe what is happening inside different people.

For example they have an operating ego made up of the primary selves, then there are some disowned selves and a few others such as the instinctual energies. In a typical inner village, however there are many more places.

The uniqueness of each individual's personal inner village

What is more important is that for each person's individual village the inner villagers and the village itself is so unique and differs in so many ways from the next person's. Each individual needs the freedom to visualise what is going on in their own way, using their own words to describe the characters where they live what they do and what they do not do.

Even the concept of the village itself is open to many variations. Harry’s is more like a circus, Mel’s is a cruise liner; John's is a gigantic spaceship, Jean's is a spiritually based commune complete with its own choir and George’s is a symphony orchestra. Gill’s is a jumbo jet and Kim's is an amazing traditional native settlement with an entire tribe of inner indigenous characters.As I explore individual inner villages guided by the characters who live in that particular village I am amazed at the way new and different aspects of village life are revealed.

There are of course the older, more traditional inner villagers, who walk and talk very much like typical primary selves, and who are the ones of the easiest talk to. But as we explore the village there are so many others that we meet up with.

The "law" of opposites

Always keep in mind the existence of opposite characters and opposite energies. Whether you are doing classic voice dialogue or following the inner village version, the existence of opposites is like a law of nature. It cannot be avoided, and if we forget it for one moment we will start to lose some of our focus on what is really taking place. Whatever inner villager we are talking with (or that we are talking about) and no matter what kind of village or spaceship or cruise liner it is, we need to keep in mind that there will be another character somewhere who is its opposite. And whether we like it or not this other character will have a powerful influence.

Private and personal – the walled off sectionThere are for example the private and personal villagers, who live apart from the rest in a walled off section. They are like the inner selves that we seldom get to dialogue with, because they carry with them many private and personal secrets. Secrets that we might only share with a close friend or no one at all.

There are witches, wizards and magicians of various kinds some of whom have cast spells that limit the ability of the villages to see things clearly. There are some very young witches and wizards who try to practise magic to protect the vulnerable inner children. Often this goes wrong.


One particularly significant group of opposites are some powerful inner villagers who spend their time trying to stop the rest of the village getting into a position where it can exercise real power. One of the terms I like to use to talk about these characters is to refer to them as the "clamp" group. All too often, they are very successful in putting a real clamp on things, and of course they believe that this is still the safest way to avoid vulnerability. They are trying to help, but often they are very young emotionally, so it's understandable that they take this position. Examples see The Complex corner

Body parts that like to talk

In many villages there are even body parts that like to talk, and when they too it can lead to fascinating discussions. In most respects this is exactly the same as the process known as "body dialogue". However it seems to help to allow the body parts to run free, as it were, and to see themselves as each existing separately as "inner villagers" in their own right.

For a start this helps make sense for them and us when we get into a conversation. Talking to a pain in the back, dialoguing with a stiff neck or having a discussion with a more personal body part seems to happen more easily when we accept them as characters who live to in a magical and complex village. The conversation, seems more natural and more relaxed than talking to these characters as if they were simply isolated parts of someone's body. And as a result, we are inclined to learn more from them.

Carried Villagers or "refugees"

An influential but troublesome group in the village are the "carried" villagers. They really belong in another person's village. However in early childhood carried villagers move from another person, usually a parent, into a child’s village. The child unconsciously helps make this happen to support the parent who is experiencing too much trouble by having them around. Hence the description of these characters as "refugees". However once they have moved in they do not seem to want to go back. Carried villagers can cause major problems in the village they now live in, through their lack of interest in protecting the vulnerability of the inner child in the village where they now reside. Instead the refugee villagers focus on the needs or vulnerability of other people, such as parents or a partner. They may be quite vocal about your responsibility for looking after the vulnerability of characters or inner children inside that person's village. And this gives us a clue to where they come from and where they really belong.

See separate pages for full explanation. Carried villagers - "refugees" from someone else's village

Other people and their inner villages

Another advantage of using the inner village storytelling approach is that it makes it easier for us look at another person and recognise the existence of another unique inner village inside them, and one that may be very different from our village. It helps us to recognise that it is OK for their villages and their inner villagers to differ from ours. And this immediately opens up the opportunity for more a more free and positive discussion about these differences.

As we find with classic voice dialogue, it often happens that there is a strong energetic and opposing reaction, between:


There is another particular understanding which grows out of the appreciation that other people possess their own different and unique inner village, which is never the same as our village. I have found this particular understanding extremely helpful when working with couples. It helps them to visualise a little more clearly the futility of one person "trying to get the other person to change", much the same as expecting another person to rebuild their village because we would like their village to match ours!

It does help couples once they can each see how the villagers in their own village are spending most of the time trying to get villages in another village nearby to make major changes.

They can begin to laugh at how hopeless a task it is to expect people in another village for example to:

When you look at it that way it is a bit easier to understand why there is little chance of anything like this actually succeeding. And it's much easier to accept that the only thing that is going to succeed is to concentrate on making changes in our own village.

Other pages connected to this discussion:

Growing Awareness and Classic Voice Dialogue - Similarities and Differences (updates and additions 21 February 2004)

Guidelines to working with Inner villagers -2004

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

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

Most new postings about this alternative approach are now found on the Growing Awareness 2005 website 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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