A fascinating new way to look inside yourself was revealed to me by this book - No Bad Parts.
Suggested by a friend, this book talks about how we all have various distinct personalities within ourselves. These personalities, or Parts, have their own voice. They have likes and dislikes, they have behavioural traits, and they have a purpose for being there.
If this sounds a bit like having multiple personality disorder, worry not. You don’t have it.
I was bought into the idea of Self and Parts just after reading one chapter of the book. By reflecting on my behaviours, especially one very distinguished pattern of drinking, binge eating and keeping distracted during periods of my life while being extremely focused, disciplined and progress-seeking and achieving in the other periods, I realised that I have at least one Part of me that is taking over myself and behaving in certain ways.
The book talks about how Parts are formed due to extreme experiences or trauma. This trauma can be of any kind. Being bullied as a kid, unloved by your parents, or even facing constant failure in your endeavours. Parts taken on their role as a protector, as they determine that the Self, which is the primary and highest-order version of you, is unable to take care of you at the time.
Problems arise when a Part doesn’t get updated to the context of the present. For eg., I had a Part develop to shield me from overthinking on my past failures and spiralling downwards. The Part would keep be distracted and my mind dulled by certain substances just enough that I am able to function without breaking down from the weight of the feeling of being a failure.
However, times have changed since then. Years have passed, my situation has changed, I am no longer a failure in the objective sense nor do I consider myself one in my inner view of myself. My Self has evolved and learned how to take better care of myself. Yet, this Part still takes over every few months when things in my life tend to get tough.
Everyone’s life has easy and hard phases. The ups and downs are inevitable, unless you’re dead. The problem is, my Part still thinks I’m my younger Self who can’t take care of me during the hard phases or downs. This Part is stuck in the past.
And to change that, the book suggests meditating to feel that Part within you. It could be a feeling, it could be a flash of visual experiences or emotions (this is how it is for me), it could be a physical sensation in some part of your body. However it manifests, as long as you are able to locate and access it, you can try communicating with it.
And the purpose of communicating with your Part is to help it heal. I am trying to tell my Part that I am older, wiser and I’m more capable of taking care of myself. I am telling my Part that when shit hits the fan, I don’t need to be shielded from it because I can handle it. I’ve grown and evolved, and hence you, my Part that took on the role of my protector during such situations, can step down and relax. My Part can find a new purpose and serve towards my wellbeing and happiness.
I am certain that there are other ways to access behavioural patterns within yourself. But I find the concept of Self and Parts fascinating, because of how easily distinguishable the Self and Part are in your mind. It’s a clear and easy-to-follow mental model, and I aim to explore more within myself to find feelings, behaviours and thoughts that are driven by a Part and not my Self.
Link to the book - No Bad Parts.