Who do you think you are anyway?

Open the door, walk inside

Many years ago I drove our maroon Buick south through green forested highways, south through industrial Green Bay, further south past the mall in Appleton, Wisconsin.  I became hopelessly entangled in a web of Milwaukee streets and shivered in neighborhoods where teenage boys huddled in groups, eyeing wary passersby.  Later, I lunched by Lake Michigan, sipping tea and munching dainty sandwiches.

Almost ten hours after leaving our Little House in the Big Upper Peninsula woods, the car emerged in a Chicago suburb.  I checked into one of those fancy hotels and prepared to attend a very fascinating weekend workshop.

It’s name?

Voice Dialogue.

What, you eager readers ask, is Voice Dialogue?

Many stones, many selves

Voice Dialogue is a technique created by psychotherapists Hal and Sidra Stone. It suggests that we all have many inner selves, and models how the selves develop and interact with themselves in relationships.

(Yes, dear reader, we are all Multiple Personalities.  In a good way.)

The Psychology of the Selves contains many facets, including an Aware Ego that lies between a primary self and its opposite disowned self.  (No yawning!  There will be a quiz!)

Voice Dialogue is a technique for getting in touch with all parts of ourselves, allowing us to integrate in a healthy way.

I had devoured the book “Embracing Our Selves:  The Voice Dialogue Manual” and felt eager to learn more.

Many blossoms

We all define ourselves.  We label ourselves as shy, outgoing, perfectionist, vulnerable, controlling, easy-going, critical, powerful (you add your own definition, please.  Don’t be reluctant.)

Draw a big circle.  Write what you are inside the circle.

Now, write the opposite of what you are outside the circle.

Let’s say you think you are an optimist.

Outside the circle, write the word “pessimist”.

The pessimist, that which you say you aren’t, is a disowned self.

Disowned selves sometimes create havoc in the psyche, and Voice Dialogue helps one get in touch with disowned energies.

One states inner confusions and then allows the voices of the selves to offer opinions and solutions.

The circle of yourself

Yesterday I told you I was a people pleaser and overly sensitive for my own good.

Voice Dialogue urges us to look at the opposite and see if it is equally true.

Is there a part of self that is NOT a people pleaser?  Is NOT sensitive?

Yes, dear reader, there is a huge part of Kathy who is completely detached to what people think of her.  She is going to do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants.  She is fiercely independent and could live in the woods with very little human contact.  She doesn’t care much about the opinion of others.

(She couldn’t believe the audacity of that blog yesterday.  She was appalled.  She’s still glaring.)

Our clean laundry on the line

When you first start doing Voice Dialogue, you might be unaware that both parts of you exist.  You start getting in touch with neglected parts of the self.  And you dialogue, dialogue, dialogue to discover ways which nurture ALL parts of your precious self.

(You might also start getting in touch with the part of you which witnesses the seemingly opposite selves, but that’s another story for another day.)

Another example?

One of my favorite things to say: “I am unpredictable.”

OK, Kathy, is this 100% true?  What ways are you predictable?

Umm, well, I have been married to the same guy for almost 34 years.  Have lived in the same house for almost 30 years.  Have worked in the same two part-time jobs for over a quarter century.

C’mon, Kathy, so how unpredictable are you?

(Are you getting how this works, dear reader?)

Please feel free to play with talking to the disowned sides of yourselves.  Invite yourself to tea and get to know who you thought you weren’t.  I swear it will be instructive!

Yep, we all have inner creatures like this…

P.S.  Wanting to thank Sara over at Auntie B’s Wax for the Versatile Blogger Award today! Aren’t you sweet, Sara!  I do so appreciate it…and always enjoy visiting your blog, too.

P.S.S.  The way Voice Dialogue might respond:  How am I NOT versatile?  Are there any non-versatile parts that want to stage a protest?  Are we all OK with this award?

Thank you again, Sara.  **grin**

Quiz:  Can you embrace your amazing versatile selves?  Or at least allow them to exist, give them voice and expression?

The many petals of our precious self

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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72 Responses to Who do you think you are anyway?

  1. Reggie says:

    That was profound, Kathy… I think I need to invite the disowned parts of myself over for a nice chat over some hot tea and biscuits… Hm… I wonder who’s going to show up?

    • Kathy says:

      It is fascinating to see who shows up, Reggie. Start with whatever challenge you might be experiencing…and the other side of yourself is sure to show up, if you provide enough hot tea and biscuits! Glad you liked this.

  2. Very interesting idea, certainly an insightful post 🙂

  3. susan says:

    Loved this, Kathy! Alone at the lake so much I get a chance to chat with all of the me’s and since I’m a journal junkie, that chat is first thing every morning. I never know who is going to show up writing. We are, indeed, a big conglomeration of us. Without sounding like Sybil, I honor (and pretty much love) the me’s. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I think the difference between Sybil and many of the rest of us who recognize our selves, is that she didn’t feel much integration between aspects of herself. Sometimes people with severe trauma as children break their selves into hard separate selves without much connection. I love the me’s, too. I love that Hal and Sidra Stone pioneered this work. I love that we are multi-faceted beings.

  4. This was great, and feels so true. It’s something I’ll try to pay more attention to. It might account for some of the incredulous looks I get when I say, “I’m a shy person,”
    Thanks, Kathy!

  5. Elisa's Spot says:

    YAY and OUCHIE at once!! 😀


    How to get everyone’s needs met, without stepping on toes and creating blow-outs can be interesting! (and ungrounding and freezing, well unless a part that couldn’t care less about inner uhm agreement/turmoil says GO NOW)

    You know…I can’t make someone else try to please me, if I can’t figure out what is pleasing. ugh!

    more giggling–the day is definitely brighter now!

    • Kathy says:

      I’m wondering if it’s possible to get everyone’s needs met, Elisa. Sometimes it’s possible; other times it feels like a matter of compromise. It can be confusing. After I devoured Voice Dialogue for a few years, I became much more interested in connecting with that which witnesses the inner selves. Another story, another day… Glad to have brightened your day.

  6. Sara says:

    Gak! This causes way too much cognitive dissonance for me! Just when I’ve figured out who I am I now have to explore who I never thought I was, have a conversation with him/her/it, and integrate? Oh Kathy, you’re just way too deep for me.

    Enjoy your voice dialog, but don’t have it out loud. People will look at you funny. 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Sara, I am smiling. I suppose this technique would not be helpful for everyone. Yep, this one is deeper than deep. She can also be terribly shallow, lol! But, hey, I’ve had many voice dialogues out loud. I taught people how to do it for a year or so. Don’t do it any more…but everyone seemed to gain something from it. Even people who didn’t think they would like it seemed to be inspired. Thanks again for the versatile award!

  7. Loved this post – really got me thinking — I have always known that the opposite of what I show others is just as real as the face I allow to show –

  8. So very interesting…I must talk about this among myselves. Kidding aside, I do see the point of such an exercise and will be thinking about this.

  9. lisaspiral says:

    What an interesting concept. I’m going to have to work with this for a little bit. I have always felt the “all or nothing” attitude to reflect not giving ourselves enough credit, but this puts it in a clearer perspective.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, I so agree. We are magnificent human beings with so much more potential and possibility than we think. Glad you liked this wider perspective.

  10. P.j. grath says:

    This is one I’ll be pondering for a long time to come. Fascinating! Thank you, Kathy.

  11. Wow! Your blog is the only one that makes me pause my Pandora station so that I can really concentrate on what I’m reading (don’t worry, that’s a GOOD thing)!! 😉

    You have given me something to think about….. I will probably never be able to come up with words to describe my thoughts about this, but my inner dialogue tonight will be interesting!! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Your blogger is very happy that you paused your Pandora station, Holly. Laughing quietly in the coffee shop right now. No words needed to try to explain your thoughts–but am very glad you are intrigued.

  12. Lori DiNardi says:

    I don’t know if this is the same, but it reminds me of something I read years back by the motivational speaker, Linda Ford. Her theory was that if something really annoys us about someone else, we probably have that same annoying characteristic in ourselves. She suggested finding where we do the same thing to make it easier for us to accept others. I actually did that with my mother-in-law, and it helped me to forgive her. Not sure if this is related, but your Voice Dialogue post reminded me of it. Thanks for the interesting read.

  13. Heather says:

    And therein lies the trouble with labels. They’re so inadequate and fleeting. Who you might be changes from moment to moment, and will also change depending on your awareness of who you think you’re being. Geesh!

    • Kathy says:

      I really like what you just expressed, Heather. Labels get us humans into so much trouble, and yet, it’s hard to do without language. Geesh! What are we humans to do? Just keep talking and trying to express ourselves, methinks. You are such a wise 30 year old.

  14. bonny says:

    Kathy, the first picture of the key looks extremely familiar…may I ask where it is?

    • Kathy says:

      Bonny, that latch comes from my friend, Catherine’s, sauna up in Herman. Maybe a lot of the old saunas had similar keys. Nice to see you again.

  15. Great post — such an important reminder to not only avoid boxing ourselves in, and not only acknowledge the other parts of ourselves, but embrace them.

    • Kathy says:

      May we not box ourselves our others in, True stories. May we embrace all those “troublesome” parts, may we find ways to embrace more of life than our minds think we can…

  16. Kathy – You always dish up the most delicious food for thought. THANK YOU!

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, I thought you might like the description of my travels down to Chicago. If I had known you then, I would have been a’visiting between Voice Dialogue sessions. I think the workshop was held somewhere near Evanston? Near some big suburb with a big university? lol, that description probably won’t tell you much.

  17. Interesting concept. Not familiar with this work at all. I do think that Voice Dialogue is a good tool to use to get in contact with your subconscious or your unconscious (if possible). i think parts of Jung’s theory would apply here as well.

    • Kathy says:

      Linda, I remember reading Jung and so liking many of this theories. At least sixteen parts of self wish they had pursued the career of psychologist or psychotherapist. Unfortunately (or fortunately) seventeen aspects of self voted for journalist. And I ended up becoming a bookkeeping/treasurer. Go figure.

  18. Brenda Hardie says:

    This is very interesting and familiar. We did exercises of this nature in therapy and while some people had a lot of trouble and couldn’t manage, others, (myself included) really benefited from it. I believe it is an ongoing adventure of discovery. Our minds and spirits hold so many nooks and crannies that it could take forever just to get familiar with our deepest selves. Then to add the recognition of our “outside” selves adds even more adventure. Heather commented on something that made sense to me…”And therein lies the trouble with labels. They’re so inadequate and fleeting. Who you might be changes from moment to moment, and will also change depending on your awareness of who you think you’re being.” Labels do seem to box us in too much….and I share in the belief that we are constantly growing and changing…evolving so to speak. (well, hopefully we’re constantly growing…not being stuck in a rut) This is definitely a good topic to chew on for awhile. Thanks Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, that is so interesting that some people had a lot of trouble with these exercises. I love what you say about the “ongoing adventure of discovery”. What a neat way to express this. I liked how Heather expressed it, too. Who would we be if we ceased to label ourselves and others? Do you think we’d allow ourselves and others to be much wider? I am glad that you, and others, are chewing on this for a while. I, too, will think more about it, once again.

  19. Susan Derozier says:

    Kathy – I have always valued their book and work. I used to use much of it in my classes and personal journal. How fortunate you were to meet them and experience their lessons in person. it is wonderful to be reminded, once again, of our wonderful complexity. Loved this!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, I have met very few people familiar with their works. I didn’t get to meet them in person–met one of the graduates of their program who was authorized to train others. Glad you appreciated this–and appreciate our “wonderful complexity”. Love that phrase.

  20. Val says:

    I have one of the Hal and Sidra Stone voice dialogue books…. and to give an example of the ‘pushme-pullyou’ inside me, I wanted to type ‘dialog’ (American way) and my stricter English self said, nope – type it the proper way with an ‘ue’ on the end! 😉

    The dialog/ues (see what I did there?) that I write between inanimate objects, and between myself and birds, are extensions of the inner voice, they’re just more personified than usual. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      How complex we are, Val–there are even parts of us who insist upon stricter spellings! I think you and I have perhaps talked about Voice Dialogue before. Some of your blogs have reminded me of this technique. Glad you are another person who is familiar with their work.

  21. Barb says:

    My head is swimming. This may be too hard for summer – perhaps I’ll save looking more closely at my inner selves until the snow flies. Are you totally back from your blog break, Kathy? I’m reluctant to end mine (been reading, reading, reading, though…). Hope all is well there in the UP, and that Barry’s knee is A-OK

    • Kathy says:

      I think I am back from my blogging break, Barb. I have to consult all my selves, as several of them have differing opinions, lol. Who knows…may change mind by next week. I’ll bet your are having a wonderful summer break! And, yes, Barry’s knee is improving daily. He thinks he “turned a corner” this week. His one month appointment is next week. Thank you for remembering him.

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  23. Robin says:

    Wow… fascinating exercise. I like the idea of inviting myself to tea and getting to know those parts of self that I ignore. Thank you. The parts of me I didn’t think I was will thank you too, as soon as I let them out to play. lol!

    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it fascinating, Robin? Just think of the amazing potential we have–if our thoughts quit telling us who we are! Or if we quit believing our thoughts when they make pronouncements.

  24. sybil says:

    Jeeeze — I better go read yesterday;’s post to get a little context on these comments. lol. SYBIL

  25. Elisa's Spot says:

    shining armor wondering what would happen if i threw it down

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Elisa, thought about your comment here when driving to town. Not exactly sure where you’re coming from…but I was thinking that armor serves its purpose for a long time. If we let it down too soon, we can be hurt so easily. If we leave it on too long, it simply gets rusty. Timing. It’s always timing…

  26. Stacy Lyn says:

    Reminds me of the Myers-Briggs personality indicator. We have “preferences,” but that doesn’t mean that we can’t embrace the opposite of our preferences. (Though I do find it difficult for my introvert to connect with my extrovert, if she indeed exists!) ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Stacy Lyn, I think we are so much bigger than we think we are! Our preferences are only one part of our infinite possibilities. Nice to see you…

  27. Such a fascinating concept. I like the idea that we are all multiple personalities – after all, what writer doesn’t have a host of characters residing in their heads?

    I am known by many names and wonder whether those names reflect different personalities. I think I might just have to sit down with Susan, Sue, Su-su, Suzanna Joy, Suzy Q, Sue Magoo, Humpty Dumpty (Blogspot persona) and mywithershins (WordPress persona) just to see what all we have in common and what our differences are. 🙂

  28. dearrosie says:

    You know I’m sure that there are parts of myself that are longing to introduce themselves to me. So glad I came over and read this post. Now I need to find the time to sit down with myself…

    • Kathy says:

      Rosie, I suspect there are parts of yourself that are jumping up and down in glee that you want to meet them. It’s delightful–and sometimes very interesting–when we discover we are larger than we thought we were.

  29. Dana says:

    I love this, Kathy! Voice Dialogue sounds like a fine way to engage with those “shadowy”, oft-ignored/denied aspects of ourselves (without totally giving up the “owned” aspects of ourselves, either!) I miss reading your blogs regularly and can’t wait to catch up soon! xo

    • Kathy says:

      Dana, I am thrilled to discover you peeking in on this ancient post from way back in the Middle Ages of August, lol! You are one person I know who really might appreciate Voice Dialogue. Thanks for reading and commenting. Please don’t feel obligated to read all the old posts, my friend. Just jump in during the Current Ages and I shall be delighted to see you.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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