Sub-personalities, the titanic and the supermarket

I work in a supermarket and since coronavirus hit the UK, in terms of the general public being aware, was about February time. If it was the titanic film, it would be the part perhaps where Rose and Jack see the iceberg and observe people playing football with chunks of ice that had fallen on the deck. How serious is this really?

First class were still in their warm apartments having cups of tea, whilst the lower class were becoming aware of water leaking in and the rats were heading out. There were those on board that knew that the ship had not been designed to survive the impact of the iceberg ripping into three sections, it would sink and quickly and that there were not enough lifeboats to go around. They told a select few because they did not want to cause mass hysteria. Those working in the engine rooms continued their roles as if nothing had changed, creating time, time for people to get off the ship safely and flares to be sent for other ships in the area to come to their aid. They did this even though it may cost them their lives.

In the last few days, I have felt the energy change to fear in the supermarket (not with the customers, this started soon as panic buying started), but this time by the staff. Some staff are ignoring the advice of 2m apart because they have to train people up as we are short staffed as people have left to isolate themselves. Other staff are becoming angry and shouting at them to keep 2m apart as these are government guidelines for all. If we were back in the film, this is the part perhaps where everyone becomes aware the ship is going down. People with money begin to realise that their money won’t save them, and they are in the same position as everyone else. The lifeboats have gone, and the ship is going down. The soundtrack itself begins to change and creates fear for the viewer too.

The best and worst sides of humanity begin to show as fear kicks in. From a supermarket angle, the worst ranges from abusing supermarket staff such as throwing kettles at them. Setting fire to clothes because a customer didn’t get what they wanted (creating more work for blue line services). Abusing a paramedic coming in uniform from a 12-hour shift to have them leave in tears (let’s hope the abusers then don’t need to call said paramedic). Those buying more than they need, and in some cases throwing it out as waste (creating more work for refuse collectors) or selling those goods on eBay and such like for profit. Then there are those just being grateful for food being on the shelves on a daily basis, checking with staff if they can buy two loaves of bread as they are shopping for elderly neighbours, those only coming in when it is essential and not for an excuse of getting out the house increasing the risk for everyone, and there are staff going above and beyond to help others out, working longer hours and keeping morale up.

Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight

I now invite you to look inward, rather than outward at all the chaos. Inward to recognise the chaos that you have within you. In psychosynthesis our different and/or conflicting thoughts and feelings, are described as sub-personalities. The thing to appreciate is that they all have your best interests at heart. If you begin to be curious about these parts (sub-personalities), you then begin to step back and in doing that, you are now able to hear/see/feel them all. This is the position that is key to our well-being, as it is the conductor position. The conductor guides the instruments to play at various times, therefore creating the symphony rather than allowing them to play for themselves creating noise that hurts the ears. In other words, you feel in control, rather than anxious. The conductor position is also key to operating from a place of love and not fear which is essential right now.

Life seems to be an endless struggle between different parts of us wanting different things. The more we look at ourselves, the more it seems we are not whole, but composed of lots of different parts all having their own needs and desires. Not split personalities, but sub-personalities – Roberto Assagioli

Let’s explore a inward struggle. In this case parts are not identified so the Body Scan is used to help this process.

  • How are you feeling?
  • I don’t know
  • OK lets try a body scan (this can be found on this page). Where do you need to go back to in the body?
  • My shoulders.
  • OK do they have something they want you to acknowledge?
  • They are heavy, feels like I have rocks on them.
  • Do the rocks represent anything to you?
  • Yes, responsibility that isn’t mine.
  • OK, just sit with the feeling and notice if anything changes.
  • I have moved my shoulders and the rocks have fallen off. But then they got placed back on by people. So, a rope came down and I grabbed it and have been lifted out of the rubble. I feel lighter and freer.
  • [pause]
  • Is there anywhere else you would like to go in the body?
  • My stomach. I feel sick. It feels like fear.
  • Do you know what the fear relates to?
  • Yes I am not in control and I am worried
  • Can you tell me more?
  • I might die, my children might die. [Burst into tears]
  • [allow tears and time to feel feelings]
  • I feel better now. That’s weird.

Using the body as a tool for feeling your feelings can be helpful, as you may not be able to identify different parts of you straight away. Let’s try another.

  • How are you feeling?
  • I am feeling a mix of things really. Hard to pick one.
  • OK be curious of the first feeling that comes to you…now.
  • I am worried. I am worried about my kids. And for me.
  • Can you stay with this part of you for a moment and tell me more?
  • I am scared they are going to die. I don’t want to die.
  • [cries]
  • OK it’s changed as I am now feeling that I don’t want to go back to work, Im a key worker.
  • OK, can you identify the part that was just with us?
  • A child I guess, maybe about 6 or 7.
  • Good, and which part has just come up in her place?
  • Erm, I don’t know really. It could be a mother I guess?
  • Lets go with that, it may change or it may not. Tell me more about what the mother wants to say?
  • I want to keep my kids safe at home. If I go to work, I am at risk of bringing this home with me. But I can’t stay at home as people are judging me. My husband thinks its better for our kids if they go to nursery for stimulation. I just don’t know.
  • OK, so that feels like some more parts have just come to the surface. Lets explore them. We know the mother wants [to keep her kids safe at home]. Who is the part that is concerned with judgement from others?
  • Erm, that feels like a child, but older than the other one. She feels criticism and wants to be, I don’t know, a good person.
  • OK, ‘a good girl’. What does she need you to know to keep you safe?
  • Not to cause any conflict with others as that brings up anxiety.
  • What does the anxiety want you to know?
  • Erm, it wants me to know…well I guess I will be outcast if I go against rules.
  • So this part fears being cast out and not accepted. And is this the same part that is active when tuning into what your husband wants?
  • No, thats feels different. I guess the wife.
  • What does she want you to know?
  • She agrees that it would be good for the kids stimulation so he has a point, but I also want her safe.
  • Which two parts of you are in conflict now?
  • The mother and the wife.

Allowing time to have this type of exploration each day for about 10-15 mins is a helpful of exploring your own symphony before it becomes noise. Each part of us is no better or worse than another part, each part needs to be whole before it can be truly sunthesised and integrated. If there is any resistance to one part being heard, then you have identified another part. If there is conflict, you have at least two parts that are trying to do their best for you but come from different angles. If you remain curious about the parts, rather than critical or judgemental then you know you are in the role of conductor. If you are critical or judgemental, this is another part – be curious about what it is saying and why. If you are visual, picture the parts and you can name them from there. Naming the parts especially with humour Roberto Assagioli said helps with healthy detachment and lightness. If you are not as visual, hear the words said by those parts or feel what those parts want you to feel and name those parts from these cues instead. You can use colours or maybe cards with characters on them, even cut from magazines/papers or the internet, or if you have little figures or animals from a kids toy store, these can be used. Stay curious and you will remain the conductor. Rather than any of the characters in the movie you are the viewer watching the movie, looking at all the different parts, hearing and feeling what they all have to say. Not changing their scripts but listening, exploring motivations and agendas with compassion and humour.

The inner work, helps with what is going on in the outter world. Helps us turn the dial from fear to love. Helps us with a healthy detachment and lightness. Helps us to stay in compassion, acceptance, humour, gratitude and unconditional love with self and others.

Titanic which name means exceptional power may yet prove to represent our old system of control based on fear, and maybe this needs to end up at the bottom of the Atlantic. We can then create something better, from love for all life on this planet and elsewhere. Love to all those who have left our world, as we know it, in their own life boats and love to all those who have opted to stay on in the chaos; we got this.

“I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.” – Jack Dawson

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