Saturday, December 21, 2019

My Internal Family System

One of the practices that can help a person avoid the destructive symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder ("DID") is to integrate their various personalities by having them communicate with each other and work together.  People who have not been diagnosed with any kind of disorder (and even those who have) can also benefit from recognizing and integrating various personalities that they might imagine they hold.  On my walk this morning, I worked on identifying and naming several of my own.  In the hope of inspiring you, I will introduce some of them.

I ask who wants to be introduced first, and it's "Thomas" (from "Doubting Thomas," the apostle who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead).  I christen my ability to doubt, "Thomas," and you have probably met him if you've read other blog posts of mine.  Okay, who's next?

Theresa, probably because I'm proud of her too.  I chose that name because of the popular conception of "Mother Theresa" as an extremely compassionate person.  This part of me seeks to recognize other people's pain (as well as my own), and offer those suffering from it some understanding. Next?

Phil, who is named after Phil Collins, because of his song "In the Air Tonight," and the "bitterness and frustration" that I sometimes express. He is one of the last personalities I discovered. I figured I had gotten nearly all the "personalities" I can exhibit and asked if anyone was missing.  Phil showed up, just as a name, and then I realized that I hadn't really accounted for feelings I tend to suppress.  Sorry, Phil, I will honor you more in the future.

Greg (short for "Gregarious") seems to be a relatively new personality, perhaps because he was pretty insignificant until I went through The Forum, a training and development seminar from Landmark Worldwide.

David, the little boy who was abandoned.  He's the first personality I met (or invented).  I had been walking around the block considering a recent School Sucks podcast in which I heard about "Internal Family Systems Therapy." I introspected to see if I felt there were any personalities inside myself that might need attention, and a little abandoned boy showed up. I attach this to having to stay at school when my mom dropped me off at Preschool.  I only remember crying because I didn't want her to leave me.

Frank, who is ashamed of my sexuality.  His name comes from Francisco d'Anconia, a character in Atlas Shrugged who was known as a playboy.

Yoda, who is always saying "It's Okay," like my boss at iBus/Phoenix from many years ago, Mien Shih.  Yoda is an excellent Stoic.  He knows that our memories and our cognitive abilities are there to take the worst of situations, once they are in the past, and draw useful conclusions from them to have a better future.  That's why he's always there to alleviate my concerns and slow me down when I'm ready to jump into a situation and stop something that is about to happen. Yoda is the space between stimulus and response for me.

Chuck, or Charlie, from Charlie Brown, because he's the "peanut gallery."  He's funny.

Ed (prospective name, from my Toastmasters club) who likes to talk.  The reason Ed and Greg are two different personalities is that I like active listening.  Allowing someone to express themselves, again because of The Forum, is something I enjoy a lot, and it's Greg's function. Chuck and Ed could be the same, but I do like to have something useful to say when Ed has the floor (not "the light" because I think keeping others in the dark is foolishly dangerous).  Chuck just shows up for one-liners without much respect for anyone else, internal or external.

I made up all these personalities by questioning where a thought came from. What motivated me to do this today was that I was thinking one thing and then lost it to another thought that took over.  I can't remember either thought now, but I figured that those two competing motivations could more effectively work together if I distinguished them and created an intention.  I called a meeting in my head and started asking "people" (men, personalities, whatever) to speak up. This strategy was mentioned in a recent Tim Ferriss podcast as a way to get back to sleep when that was difficult.

There may be personalities that I've left out, as this is not an exhaustive exercise.  If you ever talk to me, and you feel that one of these personalities might be a better interlocutor, please remind me.  You have their names, and you are free to use the same names to name your own internal family members who share these traits.

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