Honor Thy Primary Selves
Miriam Dyak

It’s natural to grow up, leave home, create a life for ourselves, but we typically don’t throw away our parents and family when we do. We may outgrow what we now perceive to be our parents’ limited approach to life, but we still love them, still go home for the holidays, still find much to value in who they are. We wouldn’t think to label them as “false parents” just because we’ve outgrown our childhood, and most of us wouldn’t label our family as “inauthentic,” or “not a real family.”

So why would we treat our “inner family” in this way. Our primary selves have labored so hard for most of our lives to be sure that we’re safe, cared for, and have a reasonable amount of success in life. Often they are modeled after our outer parents and carry their same values. Not only that, but our primary selves – the inner controllers, protectors, organizers, managers, pushers, caretakers, pleasers, etc. – are the parts of our personality that do the “heavy lifting” in life. They are vigilant, dedicated, work 24/7 making sure that we meet deadlines, finish school work, manage households, bring home paychecks. It’s so easy to fault them for being overbearing, too judgmental, “co-dependent,” but it’s not easy to do the work they do.

Voice Dialogue offers a different approach of simply separating from these primary selves so that we can visit them, value them, but not have to live with them all the time. It’s a kind of inner growing up. There are no “false selves” in the Voice Dialogue world view, and there is no need to disparage the parts of us that have worked so hard. It’s wonderful to evolve and grow into a new way of being in our lives, and we don’t need to do that at the expense of dishonoring our original inner family of selves.

From the perspective of The Psychology Of Selves all selves are authentic. If a self is critical, it is authentic in its role of critic. If a self is controlling, it is authentically controlling. If a self is a caretaker, that’s authentic too. We all need some ability to use our critical faculties, maintain necessary control, take care of ourselves and others in a balanced way. From center, from the view point of the Aware Ego, we see each self as real and truly what it is. Instead of judging the selves, the Aware Ego recognizes them and helps us to create a new internal balance where each self can contribute its gifts or essence while also not overwhelming the system with too much of any one kind of energy. It’s not the self’s job to be less or more of what it is. It’s our job through the Aware Ego process of holding center between opposites to create the new balance we desire.