Maybe Australian inner selves are just a bit different">




Maybe Australian inner selves are just a bit different, however, having dialoged with hundreds of selves (including many of my own) and based on what I have learned from them, I sometimes choose my own ways to explain the things inner selves do. That means of course that some parts of these pages differ (in the words used) from those of Dr. Hal and Dr. Sidra Stone who originated the ‘classic voice dialogue’ model and the terms followed by other recognised authorities like Pia Mellody who work with the inner child, inner selves and classic voice dialogue. The adaption process as I describe it, the work the selves do and how they do it, is of course, still the same, as is the vulnerable inner child.

The majority of terms and descriptions that I use do match those used by other writers, however, if you have attended courses, or watched tapes about the inner selves or have some knowledge already of classic voice dialogue, the points below summarise those times when one of my terms or phrases may not match your current terminology when describing inner self psychology and classic voice dialogue. If this is your first experience reading about inner self work, you may like to skip this page, which is more for the benefit of readers who already know something about classic voice dialogue. For my experienced readers please let me highlight those times when I intentionally use different terms or place a different emphasis on some key aspect of the work and why. The differences are in the following:

1. Aware Adult not an Alternative to Aware Ego
2. Inner Self Dialogue - alternative to Classic VOICE DIALOGUE
3. One-above and One-below power states - a key distinction between selves
4. Polarity - alternative to Duality
5. Natural Parts and Inner Selves - a distinction
6 The Mind - a Special Self and its unique role
7. All selves are Protectors - all One-above are Controllers

1 Aware Adult - a starting point for understanding (but not an alternative to) the Aware Ego
A person operating almost all the time under the control of the inner selves  obviously lacks an adult operating system that can take over day to day tasks from the selves. This is where I feel the 'indescribable' abstract and spiritual nature of the aware ego and consciousness leaves people without a hard wired system they can actually move into and use. Hal said to me once "If your lips are moving you are not in your aware ego." and there is a lot in that even if its not 100% true.
The term ‘ego’ also has very different connotations for different people and some of these are strongly negative. Many Christian groups when talking about the ‘ego’ as selfish and lacking a spiritual base are actually referring to some of the more egotistical inner selves. You and I may love our aware ego but in explaining inner self work I prefer to start with the concept of the ‘aware adult’ rather than aware ego.
However, it is becoming clear to me (or I am becoming more aware)  that I was wrong when I tried to blend or equate the aware ego with the system I call the ‘aware adult’. As Hal and Sidra have always said the aware ego cannot be tied down or ‘put into words’! (and as Franca put it so well on the forum page… ‘The trap is that the aware ego process is something that cannot be defined!’ So all we can do as Hal and Sidra have done, is demonstrate the aware ego to our clients rather than try to capture it in words for the world at large.
However, I am even more sure (now) that there is a distinct energy state (which is not ‘the aware ego’) This other state could be called ‘aware adult’ or any other name but it differs in so many observable ways from the energy state when the inner selves are in control of our lives and ‘driving the bus’. And it differs also from the aware ego in that it can be described in words. See The Road to Awareness page
I want to write and teach more people about this other hard wired aware state. Pia Mellody calls it the ‘functional adult’ and some of her techniques are brilliant as a means of getting people to shift from ‘adult child-inner self control’ over to functional adult. But classic voice dialogue is equally effective for achieving this and my aim is to blend the two so they can be used in harmony.
My problem is partly terminology – finding the right name to use with inner self work (and ‘aware adult’ seems to fit the state better than  Pia's 'functional adult') but also how to describe this very real energy state in ways that distinguish it from the aware ego and from the idea that it is another self called the ‘aware self’ or just ‘awareness. It is much more than that. This adult state is not the ‘aware ego’.
So I’d be interested to hear from anyone who recognises this other adult state, the one that can be talked about in words. In many ways it is more of a system, it is definitely not an inner self and it is certainly real. My notes on this state and how to identify it are included on the page The Aware Adult State  and help explain and describe this state as I see it.

2. Inner Self Dialogue - alternative to Classic VOICE DIALOGUE
Many people feel that the name ‘classic voice dialogue’ does not reflect what happens when they talk to an inner self. True, we hear the ‘voice’ of the inner self but it is the self that we dialogue with rather than its ‘voice’. For newcomers I find the term ‘inner self dialogue’ more understandable than ‘classic voice dialogue’. After they have met and talked with a few inner selves they will appreciate that it doesn’t matter which one is used.

3. One-above and One-below Power States
Most selves are concerned with power, some with exerting it, others with reducing its effect. Stronger selves block and limit power in others to make up for our lack of it. Some selves seem to be constantly getting caught up with internal power politics about which self is more powerful. Two different selves (inside the same person) often operate as polar opposites as they disagree over what is best for us - almost like a two party system in government.
As anyone who works with the selves knows, they often get into conflict about unbalanced power and control issues. To highlight this, when I work with a self, I begin by observing whether it seems more like a 'one-above' or a 'one-below' self, in terms of its focus on power and control and how they try to handle it. This may or may not differ from the standard classic voice dialogue approach, but I find the terms 'one-above' or 'one-below' fit in well with the way the inner selves talk about their activities and helps emphasise what one self is doing in comparison with another. This also reflects the work of people like Pia Mellody and John Bradshaw who don't talk about 'selves’ as  such, but do classify reactions to vulnerability as being either parent (one above) or child (one below) or as Pia Mellody would say one-up or one-down.

4. Polarity or Duality
Although opposing selves are not always paired as one-up with one-down, this is one of the most common examples of polarity. I prefer the term ‘polarity’ rather than ‘duality’ as a way of emphasising the energetic oppositeness of such selves. Looking at polar opposites not only reflects the opposite energy within those selves, it also gives us the understanding, as Hal and Sidra Stone point out, that if our aware adult/aware ego is going to balance opposing selves successfully it needs to work with them in the way they see the world, which means creating a working balance of power between opposing positions. By the way, I think this is why using a rational, cognitive approach or logical persuasion in an attempt to talk two polarised selves into peaceful cooperation usually fails because polar opposites have no interest in resolving issues that way.

5. Natural Parts and Inner Selves - a distinction
Inner selves are the sub-personalities that developed in us as adaptions to help us fit in and be more like others wanted us to be (Pia Mellody’s ‘adapted child state’). In this book I talk about the parts of your personality that did not adapt in that way, as natural parts. I think it is important to keep the distinction and not refer to them as natural selves. It’s true that lots of selves get disowned or sent into exile, but if a natural part is disowned, as is often the case, I also like to maintain the distinction. In the same way, there are natural and functional parts of our personality that survive and work in with the aware adult/aware ego. They too need to be identified as parts, not selves. Some selves seem to make it into maturity as well and work effectively within the aware adult system. I like to refer to these as ‘integrated selves’. Most people would agree that ordinary inner selves are typically short on integration.

6. The Mind is a Special Self - It's the only one that helps all the others
The rational mind or ‘thinking self’ fits the essential definition of a ‘self’ and has many of the usual characteristics of a self. However, as Hal and Sidra Stone teach us, the Mind also plays some specific and different roles in comparison with the rest of the inner self family. I like to emphasise one of these different functions which places the mind apart from other selves in that it is the one self that works to aid and support each of the other selves in whatever that self is doing. As I work with another individual self I also recommend that you observe what the mind is doing as a team mate in supporting that self.

7. All selves are Protectors - all One-above Selves are Controllers

I have found it hard to recognise just one self as THE 'protector-controller' self. It seems to me that every self is a protector. All one-above selves are controllers. For this reason I don't refer to any one self by that name.

RETURN TO  A Dynamic or Energetic Approach to Understanding the Inner Selves


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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