Tuesday, 18 March 2008

After a Voice Dialogue Workshop - by Helena Weaver

Monday morning – and I woke up – and something was really different! I immediately felt aware of myself in a new way. For once I was not immediately identified with my anxious, pushy worried, selves. Yet I could feel that they were nearby, eager to put their point of view and get me up and running around. Fascinated, I brought myself a cup of tea back to bed and proceeded to conduct a meeting of any self who wanted to attend.

Instantly a very Responsible self arrived and listed a huge long list of demands, worries and responsibilities. This self sat straight and strong but with a crushing sense of burden like a heavy dark cloud that weighed him down. All these duties had to be squarely faced, he said, and tightened his shoulders and gritted his teeth. Anxiety and tension filled his chest and stomach.

I withdrew, thanked him and listened for other voices within that might want to comment.

Then his opposite took over, laid herself back amongst the cushions and began to completely chill out. She remarked that as far as she was concerned she was prepared to do nothing today for as long as possible; Helena hadn't had a weekend off for 2 weekends now and rest was long overdue! I was amazed to experience how rapidly the sense of burden and stress left my body as she lay there, guiltlessly, muscles melting into the bed, thinking about virtually nothing - expect the play of sunlight on the leaves of the trees and how good it was to just lie there.

I met this part of me in the workshop an unprejudiced way for perhaps the first time ever. Usually, I realised, I unconsciously disown her as a work-shy skiver who gets in the way by refusing to work hard enough. Yet I consciously long for a more relaxed life style, more quality of life, more enjoyment in just living.

It strikes me now as wonderfully funny and so appropriate that this part that I had been beating up, now turns out to be the key to my dreams of a happier life! I see she is the part of me that can easily access a state of just being. And that it is her that is crucially missing from my life, who can bring a quality of presence and sensual enjoyment into my life in a way that no other part of me can. After just 5 minutes in her I felt completely refreshed. To my amazement I then found I got up and began organising my week in a state of effortless ease and flow. Extraordinary, no pushing and force required!

Thank you, John, and Michael, for teaching me to open this door! This is a whole new way to discover inner balance, and one that is such a delight to use!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

An Inner Patriarch

In Her book “The Shadow King: The Invisible Force That Holds Women Back”, Dr Sidra Stone writes about a self she calls the Inner Patriarch that exists often unconsciously in women.

‘What does the Inner Patriarch expect of women? The Inner Patriarch thinks that a good woman should be supportive, receptive, loving, giving, compassionate, understanding and nurturing. She should not be too powerful, and she should not take up too much space. He likes his women submissive and tame. He fears what will happen to the world – and to the women themselves – if women were to stand up and take power either in the outer world or in the more personal world of relationship.’

I heard an example of the Inner Patriarch’s voice on BBC radio 4 the other day. A second generation British Sikh man was talking about the time when at the age of 30, and after many attempts by his parents to arrange a suitable wife for him, he finally told his mother that he wanted to marry a woman of his choice. His mother held very traditional values about the kind of woman that would be suitable for him – values that had clearly been passed to her from her mother. She told her son that he should choose a woman that was shorter than him, faired skinned, good at house work, a good cook and obedient!

The Inner Patriarch exists in both men and women. Once we can hear its voice and separate from it, this self need no longer insidiously pass on the values of a patriarchal society from generation to generation. All of us - whether male or female - will gain more conscious choice about how we handle our social and personal relationships.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Voices in the Media

I like to keep my ears open when listening to the radio or watching TV and catch the phrases that indicate different selves are speaking. Phrases such as: “Part of me is quite sympathetic to your ideas, but practically I can’t agree with you”, “A part of me would rather not be doing this”, “I was beside myself with anger”, “Something just took me over and before I knew it I was telling him exactly what I thought of him. I felt so guilty afterwards”. “I’m in two minds about this”. It’s a fun activity!

Yesterday I heard a couple of interesting ones.

My first example from the BBC concerns New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer who apologised amid allegations of involvement in a prostitution ring. Mr Spitzer was elected governor in November 2006, promising ethical reform in New York. As New York's attorney general, he had become known as the Sheriff of Wall Street for his relentless pursuit of financial wrong-doing. His successes in that battle led Time Magazine to name him "Crusader of the Year" in 2002. Mr Spitzer had also taken a firm line against prostitution in New York. At a press interview he said, "I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself."

Who is the “I” that expects such high standards of “my self”? It sounds like his ethical “Sheriff of Wall Street” and “Crusader” parts have been primary and pretty much run his public life. But being so identified with them, other selves would naturally have been disowned and relegated to the shadow. My guess is that the “I” that has “disappointed and failed to live up to the standard” is one such part. It sounds like it has been operating behind the scenes and just got him into a lot of trouble! If I were doing a Voice Dialogue session with Mr Spitzer I would first ask to speak to his primary ethical parts (his Sheriff and Crusader) and help him value and separate from them. Then, when appropriate, we might talk to the one that really doesn’t care about ethics and wants to be more self-centered and have fun - the one that got him involved in prostitution. His task would then be to stand between them with more selves-awareness and make more conscious choices about his behaviour.

The second example comes from a Channel 4 TV broadcast about a shocking series of teenage suicides in Wales. Local youth workers are receiving training in identifying and coaching young people most at risk of committing suicide. There was a brief extract where the trainer said, “These teens don’t want to kill themselves, just the part of them that is miserable and unhappy”. I wonder if Voice Dialogue could play a part in helping these young people and the professionals who are trying to help them.

If you hear any other examples in the media or elsewhere please post them here!