Embracing the Self

Client: I’m still a little unclear about embracing my disowned parts. I am sometimes a little bit of both. My behavior and thoughts operate as one person doing a certain thing in a certain way, then I completely flip and turn into my opposite or have opposing thoughts. I thought about the things that I hate in other people that really piss me off or offend me and then I thought about the times when I act just like that. I  just realized (as I am typing this) that I have a problem with anyone who is an extreme of one of my selves.

I have a problem with judgmental/critical people.
People who are excessively loud or attention seeking.
Overly religious people who push their views onto others.
People who have no interest in education and only care about superficial aspects of reality.
People who are “too” emotional – I see them as weak  (I have had a problem with in the past. Mostly as a kid and teenager.)
People who are not emotional enough.
Know-it-alls, been-there-done-it-alls.
I hate people who are negative all the time.

This list can probably go on more.
I hate religious zealots. I hate people who try to stuff their religious views down everyone’s throat.
I hate this but I do the same thing (not with my religious views but with my personal ones).

I also have a problem with people who are “too” emotional even though I have been like that in others’ eyes and my own eyes at times.
Like the books suggest, I asked this part of me how would she live my life if she was in control.

I don’t get to cry as much as I would like. Sometimes I feel sad about something and I tell myself to hold it. Sometimes [my little girl] doesn’t want to cry about people who have hurt her feeling so she keeps the tears in.

There is this bright, funny, positive go-getter part of me that tries to cover up the part of me that isn’t those things. I hate being called negative and I hate being negative. I work really hard sometimes to be this upbeat “go get ’em” person. I notice that when I say something negative, I sometimes say something positive to cover up what I just said so that I don’t come off as negative to others. I say and I am attracted to those sayings that talk about how hard life is but you can turn it around.

The other part of me thinks that all of that is bullshit and is waiting for the upbeat girl to fall flat on her face. I also fear that someone will call me out on my bullshit and embarrass me or show me how stupid I really am.

The critic in me is the one I hate the most. This is the side of me that is judgmental and mean to me and makes me freeze in fear and doubt anytime I need or want to do something important. This side picks on my victim and my victim cries ” I CAN’T!”. Everything is a “no” or an “I just can’t” and “I hate that too”. I hate “I can’t”. I hate that quitter negative voice.

I have a problem with kids sometimes and I think it’s because as a child I wasn’t allowed to do things that kids do. Certain traits were not valued by my mother and I got in trouble, yelled at or hit if I behaved in those ways.

Marta: All of these parts of yourself, the either/or behaviors, judgments, criticisms, reactions to others etc., are defended patterns that cover up your feelings, emotions, needs and wounds, as well as the expression of emotions and boundaries to embrace these emotions. We need to work through your defenses and that takes patience. Be patient with your child, she is afraid and she has been criticized for a long time. Take each one of your patterns and behaviors and find the feelings you are hiding in them.

To hate the critic is not to understand yourself. Underneath the critic is a defense; it is hating on top of hating. You hate the critic, the critic hates the child, and on and on. When you can begin to embrace the emotions and wounds in this hate, you will find the compassionate parent in you. The heartbreak is in the hate. You need to find your vulnerability, but you need to realize that all of your reactions hurt YOU.

You have different parts of you: the child, the teenager, the woman, the critic, the seducer, the manipulator. These are all pattern and defenses so that you don’t feel and change. If you are negative, then you are hurting. All of this is a defense against what you feel and need. Think about what I am saying. Go into your body and let yourself cry and feel your heart. Judgment is never the way, even towards your critic. It seems odd, but the critic in ways is protecting you from getting close to others. It keeps everything and everyone away. You don’t need to criticize in order to create healthy boundaries and expression that nurture your well-being.

Client Journal: The Critic Part 1

Critic 1: I think I keep hurting myself because I want someone to take care of me, someone to notice me. Someone to make the pain and hurt go away. This is coming from the little girl inside me. I am also scared. I am scared that my mom is right. That I don’t have what it takes, that shouldn’t be a dancer, that I’m not good enough. I feel extremely sad admitting that.

Critic 2: I think I am the most critical of myself when it comes to my art. When I have had a really important audition, I have found some way to sabotage it. For example, last spring, a talent agency for dancers was holding open call auditions to look for new dancers to represent. Now that I am thinking about it, I started to sabotage myself the night before the audition. The night before I decided to go out drinking with some friends. I reasoned that the audition wasn’t until 2 p.m., so I had enough time to sleep and be well rested. When I woke up and got ready to leave, I realized that I had forgotten my head shot and resume, so then I had to haul ass to the Kinkos to print them off an old email that I had sent out to a casting director.  Because of this last minute run around I had to do, by the time I had gotten to the audition my nerves were shot. While waiting for my turn to go inside the audition room I was looking at everyone comparing them to me, saying to myself how everyone else in the room was a way better dancer than me. I would look at other dancers and think,”She has ‘the look’ they want”, “she’s more versatile than me”, “she has a better freestyle than me,” and just on and on and on. By the time I got past the first round, I was so nervous and negative and collapsed in myself that I didn’t focus enough to pick up the choreography and when it was time for me to perform it, I stood off to the side where no one would really see me. As a result, I got cut. On the way home I kept telling myself how dumb I was for thinking I even had a shot at getting represented. How my mom was right, I shouldn’t become a professional dancer and how I would never be the dancer I wanted to be because everyone was a better dancer than me. There was also another audition I once had for an off Broadway play over the summer, this one just involved acting. I did a really good job at both the audition and the callback and it seemed likely that I would get the part, but during the week that I would have gotten that “you got the part” phone call, I procrastinated on paying my phone bill. As a result, my phone go shut off the day that they were making their phone calls to let the actors know that they got cast in the show. These games that I play with my self and my self worth is my mother’s voice, her disapproval of trying to tell what to do with my life. I think a large portion of self sabotage ultimately comes from wanting to please her.

Realization: That was an in my face realization for me. You are right. I have been so caught up with and attached to “making it”, that I have lost touch with why I wanted to dance in the first place. Which is simply because I love it, I have a good time and it makes me feel good. The more I think about it, if I go take a class with the intention to just have a good time, learn some choreography and”rock it”, I dance harder, better and I have more artistry than I do if I go into class with the intention of “being the best.” It’s this thought if being the best that gets me into my head and into sabotage mode. I have to let go of this notion that I have to be the best… Easier said than done, definitely, but for my soul survival it is what I have to start working on doing.  However, it is a tricky line, because I still think it is important to have certain goals and hold myself to standards, but I need to find exactly where it is that I turn from becoming a committed dancer, to be the best dancer I can be, to becoming the attached dancer that gets scared and collapsed.

I feel happier and relieved sharing this with you. I feel relieved because reading your responses gives me the perspective I need to look at myself to begin to make changes within myself. I feel that this inner critic in me, is a major part of where my hurt and pain comes from.