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How we talk with our selves when noone else is listening…

Posted Feb 28 2011 7:24am

I’ve just been tweaking this week’s materials for Word Sauce, and I thought it might be fun to give you a little glimpse of one of the exercises that I suggest Word Saucerers play around with this week.

It’s based around the idea of the kinds of internal conversations or ‘dialogues’ we so often get stuck in, where apparently conflicting parts of ourselves get locked into endless conversations.

In these sorts of dialogues, we often end up splitting-off parts of ourselves, perhaps calling one aspect of ourselves ‘good’ whilst another is ‘bad.’

You probably know the particular conversation that goes: ‘I really should be writing/painting/working on my business plan/making those calls today. If I were really good at this, that’s what I’d be doing. I’m so annoyed with myself because I’m being really rubbish today. In fact, I’m totally useless at all this stuff…’ and so on.

The part of ourselves that really doesn’t want to be ‘good’ gets demonised. We ignore the energy in it. We ignore what it’s trying to tell us about ourselves because we don’t really want to look. We beat ourselves up, push this stuff down – until the next time it comes up to give us a hard time.

Sometimes we don’t even notice this is happening until we really slow down and listen to how we’re talking to ourselves inside our own minds.

So this ‘dialoguing’ exercise (which I’ve developed over the years from an idea I first came across in a workshop with Cheryl Moskowitz )  is a way of encouraging people to use all of their creativity to tap into the conversations between two conflicting parts or ‘selves’ – with paper, pens, glue and scissors, images gathered from magazines, doodles, words and found objects.

Then we explore a series of writing exercises around these ‘good’ and ‘bad’ selves in which they get get rounded out into characters with separate names and lives who can then meet, talk and perhaps exchange something with one another.

Those of you interested in therapeutic models will recognise elements of ‘parts therapy’ (Gestalt, Virginia Satir’s ‘parts party’) in this approach.

Most importantly for me, the exercise is a playful way of exploring our different expressions of self and getting internal conversations and conflicts out onto the page so that we can look at them, write from them, use them in more helpful ways.

In the picture above, you’ll see the early stages of my imaging of Victoria (actually my middle name) and Amelie. Victoria is very sensible and hard-working. Amelie wanders around Paris, sipping espresso in pavement cafes and watching the world go by.

Victoria plans everything. Amelie loves to be spontaneous. She’s what my Grandma would have called ‘a bit flighty.’

Victoria has a well-paid job with a respected international training company. Amelie doesn’t really know what she’s doing from one day to the next, but it always seems to work out somehow.

I’m chuckling to myself as a I write this.

I’ve seen people have some amazing shifts and ‘letting go’ moments whilst working on their dialogues in the Word Sauce courses. It’s just one of the reasons, I love doing this work.

You can read more about Cheryl Moskowitz’s ‘Self as Source’ exercise in this book here .

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