When you start to name your emotions and behaviours as parts you may find your inner family of parts to be quite large. This is normal. We all have large families inside that are experiencing our world in many different ways at the same time. You will find that naming these experiences as parts brings you in touch with your present experience.
Let’s say for example I am stuck on the freeway in the middle of rush-hour coming home from work and the traffic is just not moving. I turn off the radio. I immediately notice there is a part of me who is reluctant to turn off the radio. This part of me prefers sound over silence. A part of me is impatient with this traffic jam and just wants to get home, while at the same time there’s another part who values the time alone. Another part is worried about the amount of work I have piled up back at work. Another part is so looking forward to being at home with my wife, and there’s a part of me who feels sad that I am unable to be home right now.
We are very complex beings, and complex simply means it is human to have a lot of internal experiences occurring for us at the same time. Unfortunately most people focus on one or two of those internal experiences and discard the rest. If again we consider the analogy of possessing an inner family of parts, imagine what it would be like for the family if you as the parent were focusing almost exclusively on one or two chosen family members. Can you imagine how the family members who do not receive that attention would feel and react to that? Predictably, they would feel left out. They would not feel part of the family unit feeling they do not have a say.
Naming or being aware of all of your inner experiences from time to time gives equal value to all of the parts of your inner family, and all will feel valued as a part of the family. Such self-representation creates calmness and certainty within because more of you feel included, and more of you have a say.
When you begin holding your inner parts as equals you start to find parts you didn’t know were there. While there are many people in our society who overdo their expression of anger and frustration there are just as many who have never before acknowledged they are or ever were angry or frustrated. This could be because anger was never acknowledged in their family of origin. It could also be because of a fear that to do so would make them angry people and they would create conflict. There are a myriad of reasons why someone would abstain from naming their anger and frustration. From the perspective of the parts model, the angry/frustrated part meanwhile may be sitting in isolation without ever receiving true representation.
In the story of Cinderella the ugly sisters received the attention and love of the step-mother. Cinderella was left out in the cold. She was ignored and felt lonely to the point that she was drawn to converse with the animals and birds. There was no one else to interact with. We can often treat our emotional parts in the same way and never acknowledge the presence of an emotion. If someone were to ask you the question, “How do you express your anger?” You may reply that you never get angry – and yet, anger is a vital emotion within us all. The question is not so much about whether anger is present within us but whether we give it the space for expression – or not. If we were to personify the angry part within the person who declares that he never gets angry, there are grounds to expect the angry part to feel like Cinderella: a part of us who feels attention is given elsewhere and who has no role to play in our life.
An interesting self-contemplative question emerges from this: how would you feel if you knew there was a part within your emotional family who feels left out in the cold? What are the Cinderella emotions within you?