I attended a Voice Dialogue workshop over the weekend in Boulder.  I have been thinking about it for a couple of years and the timing seemed right, given that I’m close to publishing my book, Show & Tell, and right now I have the time since I’m not working, so nothing would interfere with the overall experience and integration process. I’ve been interested in it since I did a some inner child work with a former therapist in 2008 and had some tremendous personal success with that.

Voice Dialogue in a nutshell is a process by which you are able (with or without a facilitator) to contact and work with different personas (or ‘Selves’) which have been created or disowned by your ego in the process of experiencing life, beginning in early childhood.  These ‘selves’ are developed (or not) in order to protect the vulnerabilities of the child and to get their needs met in the family of origin.  These aspects of ourselves may be obvious or mostly hidden depending on their usefulness.  Voice Dialogue is about identifying these selves, getting to know them without judgment, appreciating what they’ve brought to the person’s experience and making a more appropriate choice in their application in our adult daily lives, through the Aware Ego Process.

Each person has a set of Primary Selves, which are separate personas that have the primary function of protecting and supporting the child, helping the child adapt to cultural, societal, and familial rules, energies and authorities.  This group of Primary Selves make up your ‘personality’ or how you show up in the world and are still basically in charge of making you feel comfortable and secure as you go about your life, with some exceptions.  While not everyone’s Primaries are the same, we do each begin with a Protector, who decides which aspects will serve the child best and those which will not.   At some point we also will develop a Critic to keep us obedient to Rules about behaviors.  This is the checklist that your Critic judges your actions by and by which you also judge the actions of others.   If you and your Free Spirit are having too much fun, it’s the Critic that jerks you back into line and makes you play by the rules by berating your behavior.

While there can be any number of Selves,the Primaries have a defined agenda.  They have been ‘trained’ to do their jobs well and they know how to’ handle’ nearly any problem that arises.  For every Primary, there is an equal and opposite polarity in persona that has been repressed or rejected called a Disowned Self.  These ‘disowned’ selves were not allowed to grow and flourish or to have much of a say in decision-making because they were considered ‘unsafe’ by the Protector.  Once we have named some primaries, we can begin to identify the disowned selves by their opposing energy and give them a safe place to speak their truths as well.  Some examples of disowned selves could be The Artist, The Emotional One, The Intuitive or the Free Spirit.  When you are able to connect to each of these polarities and make energetic adjustments to how each of them is allowed to show up in your life, some huge shifts can occur.  Some of them only need be made known to you in order to be satisfied and to begin showing up in appropriate ways to enhance your experience.  Some of them will want to have a little more control of things , while some of them are a little shocking in nature but want to be integrated and accepted anyway.

That was my experience over the weekend.  It was very profound, humbling, and touching, in some ways like meeting old friends again.  The inter-relatedness of the experiences within the group was astounding, I don’t think we could have planned it that way.  I’m looking forward to getting to know  my selves better and I’m dedicating this page to my inner family.