I’d like to think that I come off as a pretty normal, with-it, together type of person. This is something that’s important to me; it’s how I think of myself.
In short, I hope that I seem like a warm, likable and very normal person from the outside. Those who know me well, of course, know the truth.
But even this only uncovers a portion of who I really am. Inside, there is a whole family (or Internal Family System) of characters, many of whom I don’t like to admit to. They are parts of me that behave in ways that I’m horrified by, like when I suddenly find myself enraged over something small, or am frantically trying to get a million things done and end up feeling like a chicken without a head. Sometimes it feels like these parts just take over for a while until the “real me”finally comes to, and I recognize how crazy I’ve been.
I’ve already introduced you to my Inner Critic, but she is only one of many characters inside my head that I’m learning to get along with. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a few more family members:
Meet my Busy Manager:
- She feels: very stressed out and feels overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done!
- Favorite saying: “There’s so much to do!”
- How she behaves: Frantic and frenzied. She hurries to get a lot done, trying to multi-task and never pause to actually get organized, but just tries to attack as many tasks as possible, as quickly as possible.
- What she really wants: To feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. My Busy Manager thinks that my value is tied to how much I can accomplish.
Meet my Inner Child:
- She feels: Though playful, my inner child gets lonely quickly and is often looking for a playmate.
- Favorite saying: “Play with me!” and “I want!”
- How she behaves: When happy, my inner child loves to sing and dance (in the comfort of her own home). She’s incredibly silly, and needs attention to feed off of. When feeling lonely, she can be demanding and needy.
- What she really wants: Attention, companionship and play.
Meet my Angry Blamer:
- She feels: Angry at others, frustrated that everyone else isn’t living up to her expectations.
- Favorite saying: “That idiot!”
- How she behaves: She starts to yell and rant in screechy tones. It’s an explosive expression of feelings without any processing.
- What she really wants: to avoid taking any blame and feeling bad.
Meet my Pseudo-Self:
- She feels: Very self-congratulatory. She thinks she’s doing a great job and really being the person that I want to be, but focuses just on external perception and not my real internal needs or desires.
- Favorite saying: “Of course!”
- How she behaves: She’s very agreeable. She avoids confrontation and likes to make other people feel good, though risks coming off as insincere.
- What she really wants: To be liked. To be seen as a nice, smart, competent and caring person. She is very attached to being happy and helping others. She constantly puts other people’s needs above my own. My pseudo-self believes that acting in a way that is nice, happy, and helpful means that I can the person I want to be, that others will like me, and I will be happy.
Perhaps some of these characters sound familiar as crazy parts inside of you too?
Perhaps they, like my characters, co-exist in a complex constellation. They jockey for position, trying to exert their influence. They frequently behave in ways that annoy me, even though they are me!
Like any annoying family members, it’s tempting to wish that they were different (or even that they didn’t exist!). After many, many years of thinking “next time will be different,” I’ve come to realize that each character serves an important purpose. Even though their behaviors bother me, underneath, they are concerned for my well-being. They are trying to protect or distract me with their own tactics: organization, play, removing responsibility from me, and making me into a likeable person.
I aim to understand them and appreciate them for what they are. Though they can frustrate me when they pop up– and sometimes they really do surprise me, especially the Angry Blamer– it is helpful to recognize what they are just trying to help and care for me in their own way. After all, isn’t that family does?