Ego State/Parts


Ego States/Parts is an interesting subject which has been coming up quite a bit with clients this week, so naturally, I thought it might be helpful to write about it.

Most people are aware humans have two main (inner) parts: Spirit and Ego.  Many liken the seemingly separate voices to the archetypal angel and devil sitting on opposing shoulders, rarely in agreement, usually causing inner turmoil for the individual.

What few people realize is that while Spirit remains whole, Ego is fragmented.  When I tune into the Ego as energy, I see what appears like a kaleidoscope, colorful, constantly in motion, and completely disordered, though beautiful at the same time.

Stress and traumatic experiences can cause the ego to fragment off, possibly as a protective mechanism.  In rare severe cases, this can manifest as Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder).  This occurs when one (or more) part(s) completely break off from the others, creating their own identities which feel completely separate from the Self.  More commonly, people experience this as “parts” which compartmentalize themselves from the whole.

To illustrate, let’s say I’m a middle aged woman.  I experienced physical abuse as a child and was bullied at school.  Let’s say my parents were not attuned to my needs and did not recognize (or perhaps they did but were too wounded, or drunk, or high themselves to do anything about it) the need for intervention.  Fast-forward to adulthood and let’s say I’m suffering symptoms of anxiety and depression and am not aware of why this is happening to me, only that I am having difficulty functioning.

If I pick it apart through meditation/contemplation/journaling/dreaming, I might discover various wounded ego parts which are functioning independent of one another, and not as a whole or collective (which contributes to my disjointed feelings between mind-body, or body-soul).  There might be the inner child, who continues to feel neglected, because no one attuned to her needs and/or provided her with the safety and protection she felt she needed.  There might be a rebellious teen, who developed a more “hard” exterior and an attitude like, “F- the world.  The world F-ed me, so I’m going to do what I want.”  There might be a gatekeeper, who keeps all of the pain protected behind an impenetrable wall, leaving some memories inaccessible.  There might be a wise woman (future self), who knows how to resolve the inner conflict, if only someone would tune in and listen.

When all of these parts are fragmented in the mind, the mind begins to create stories around each of the perspectives, which contributes to “monkey mind” or putting it simply, brain clutter, which contributes to freeze mode, paralysis (of the mind), or confusion.  In this state of being, it’s difficult to be decisive and having too many choices can feel overwhelming.

Taking a look at various parts can be really helpful in bringing about a wholeness to the organism (human body/mind continuum). Taking a look at means acknowledgment and acceptance.  In the fictional example from above, if I can strengthen the wise woman part, she can nurture the inner child and when the inner child feels safe and nurtured, she might be willing to open up and allow herself to be healed.  When the parts are healed and feel comfortable joining the whole, this is what shaman refer to as a “soul reintegration”.  Shaman often spontaneously do this for others, however it is also entirely possible to do this on our own too.

Here is a simple process taken from Easy Ego State Interventions: Strategies for Working with Parts by Robin Shapiro (pp. 49-50) for people who already have experience with spiritual work and want to strengthen connectivity among parts.  This process helps to connect us with a potentially untapped resource within.  This is a meditative process, so find a comfortable meditative posture, quiet the mind, and ask the Self:

1.) What parts of you have the most connection to God?  How do you experience that?  (If it’s a positive experience). Can you expand that to every age of you?  Can you feel the love/power/wisdom coming through you?  What parts of you need an extra dose?

2.)  Can you feel the love/nurturing/power of Jesus/the Virgin Mary/God/the Goddess/your guru/your Higher Power come into all the parts of you?  Breathe that through your body and all your ages.

I’d love to hear feedback if anyone wants to try this and send me a message and let me know how it goes!

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