- The Hidden Self – Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and allow about an hour to complete this exercise. You will need pen and paper.Take a few long deep breaths, close your eyes and take a few moments to connect with your body and the sensations of the body breathing. Allow your mind and body to become one, feeling the difference between each “in” breath and each “out” breath. Feeling your chest rise and fall.Now think of traits of yourself that you keep hidden from others – things that would embarrass you if others knew about it. Perhaps you have a cache of pornographic material, you cry when watching movies, have a crush on someone at work. Just take your time and think about those things.Ask yourself “what would people think if they knew”? Now ask the same question with regard to the opposite sex. As thoughts and ideas come write them down. Write down whatever comes to mind. This is your Hidden Self.Now get a separate, blank piece of paper and make four headings – Thinking, Acting, Feeling and Sensing. Categorize each trait that you have identified by putting it under one of these categories.Some of these traits are aspects of your authentic core self that need to be integrated in your self-concept and interpersonal relationships. Perhaps showing your gentle tender side by crying at the movies, writing love poems or seeking an environment where these things are acceptable.
Other traits might be compensatory for aspects that you felt you had to repress – looking at pornography due to sexual deprivation or loneliness.
- The Lost Self – this information is not in your conscious mind and will possibly take several attempts to access.
a) Think about your childhood and remember all the “don’t”, “shouldn’t” “stop” messages that you received about your body, thoughts, feelings, behaviours and self. Eg “stop running, “don’t argue”, “don’t get dirty”.
Also think about the unspoken messages you received “you are a bother”, “you are not good enough”, “you don’t have a voice”, “you are not important”.
Take your time to write down all the messages you heard from your parents, teachers, peer groups, friends and other important adults.
b) Think about messages you received from current or past intimate partners. These could be “stop” or “don’t” messages (“stop talking to your male friends at parties”, “don’t question my decisions”) but may also be “want” messages. “I wish you would be more affectionate”, “I wish you would think before you speak”. “You never kiss me goodbye when you go out”. Write everything down that comes to your consciousness – take your time.
All these messages are clues to Lost Self functions. They are indirect requests to express what you have repressed and contain information about what is missing in you.
Take another piece of blank paper and head it Lost Self and include the same four categories – thinking, acting, sensing and feeling putting all the messages under the appropriate category.
Now you have an impression of your Lost Self. The categories that have the most messages identify parts of your authentic self that are missing.
You will need to develop the repressed functions to become whole so as not to require your partner to “carry” your missing pieces. Our partners prod us to develop those missing pieces by criticizing us for not having them.
In my next article I will describe steps to uncover your Denied Self which involves seeking involvement from people that you know.