Further Thoughts Of Losing A Sense Of Self
"I don't know myself" is a common enough phrase I've heard and read. Another common one is:
"I don't know what I want (for my future/ work/ passion/ etc.)"
In my previous post, I talked at length about what could have caused this sense of loss of self. Through my work with my clients, and through some of their astutely pointed out comments about our work together, I've come to realize that there's actually another cause for this phenomenon, and it is possibly more common than some of the ones I've mentioned before.
This isn't as grisly as it sounds. What I mean is that for various reasons, a lot of people I've worked with have learnt to "amputate" or "cut-off" some aspects of themselves.
These could be certain thoughts they daren't entertain, or certain emotions they dislike/ fear/ hate to experience in their bodies. Or it could simply be certain situations they avoid like the plague.
Whatever it is, they've in some way cut off aspects of their experiencing (which includes thoughts, emotions, and anything else in one's internal and external life). Sometimes, they cut it off defensively and unwittingly. sometimes, they do so in a deliberate fashion.
What happens then is that you've lost a significant source of information about yourself and your needs, leading to the overall sense of "not knowing myself".
NOT REALLY AMPUTATION, JUST BLOCKED OFF
The difference with our internal lives is that we never really do cut off or cut away those parts of ourselves we fear/ dislike/ etc. They're just walled off, or put away somewhere.
And they leak out and cause all manner of fun havoc in our lives. So, it could be as tiny as making one too many Freudian slip, to having unexplained physical symptoms. These parts find their way through the wall somehow.
Which shows us that they're still there, and still connected. Importantly, one wonders why they would want to leak out and what they're trying to show us.
The work of psychotherapy is to bring these parts out in as comfortable a way as possible, or at least to make holes in the walls we've erected, so that we can look at these banished parts.
Once you're able to take back and re-integrate these parts back into your regular awareness, then you would start to "know yourself" better and better.
So, think of some of the parts - emotions, thoughts, situations you've in some manner cut off.
Don't go into details (because that can become overwhelming and create a strong counter-reaction), but simply get a physical sense of each of these parts. What does each one feel like in your body? What qualities does each one bring to its physical sense?
Next, allow your mind and imagination to be creative and free flowing. Basing off of this physical sense of a part, get a sense of what would allow this part to be present in a non-threatening way so that we can learn from it. This step might take time, but the pay off is great.
Sometimes, just coming this far in the process would already allow a reconciliation of another part of yourself.
Of course, sometimes, you would do better with a skilled companion who is warm/ compassionate, and feels safe to explore blocked-off parts with.