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!

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