By David Joel Miller.
Are you fighting yourself?
Do you ever feel like there are two parts of you that are arguing about things? One part of you wants to do something and the other part doesn’t. Part of you likes your job and wants to stay there and part of you would like to get a new job. Part of you likes to hang out with friends and part you would just like to stay home and be alone.
Having struggles and conflicts within yourself is a common occurrence. I’m not talking about severe mental illness or split personality, but just that human quality of being of two minds at the same time. Sometimes there may be six or seven parts of your mind wanting to take you in a whole variety of directions at once.
Can’t make up your mind?
Having difficulty trying to make up your mind? Sometimes this is the result of having choices to make and not knowing how each of those choices might turn out. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how all of life’s choices were going to end before we make them?
Other times difficulty in making up your mind may be that you simply don’t know what all the choices available to you are.
I’m not talking about Freud’s theory of the conflict between the id that wants to have its own way and be gratified and the super-ego that is responsible and wants to do the right thing. Most of the time life is not as simple as choosing between the moral thing you should do and the bad thing that you really wanted to do.
Many times you have to choose between two alternatives, both of which have good and bad parts. Below are some reasons that the emotional parts of you may be having difficulty with their choices.
Life is not yes or no choices.
One reason you may be having a conflict about two choices is that much of life is not simply yes or no choices. Sometimes you have a whole lot of options, stay on your current job, go look for another job or go back to school to further your education. Each one of those options comes with a range of possible choices.
You have way more parts than you think.
When it comes to these conflicting parts of you, there may be a lot more of those than you think. Each of us has many roles to play in life and sometimes those roles are in conflict. You have your role as partner and your role as a parent. Also, you’re a child of some other parents and on top of that, you’re an employee or boss. You may have political or religious affiliations also. Each of these parts if you has conflicting claims, for your time, your money, your energy, and your emotional commitments.
You also have emotional and personality parts of you. What interests you, what will make you happy, what you feel you should do, what you really want to do, these can all be in conflict.
You may need all those parts of you.
Sometimes you have a part of you that makes you uncomfortable. Anxiety may be a friend that keeps you from danger. That anxiety could also be a bully who keep you from doing things which might make you happy.
Sadness can be a consequence of feeling connected to and in love with other people. Too much sadness and you become depressed, it immobilizes you. Not being able to feel sadness results in being numb and you lose your connection with other people.
The trick is keeping your parts in balance.
The difficult part often is keeping all these many parts of you in balance. Couples are often at risk of getting their life parts out of balance. Too much time spent on that job interferes with the couplehood. There can be a tendency to spend all your time and energy on your children. It’s hard to balance those child-rearing responsibilities with the effort you needed to put into being a couple. Sometimes you feel like these various parts of you, the roles you have to fulfill, are in conflict.
Each part needs to know its role.
Sometimes parts try to assume a role that’s not theirs. Anxiety is supposed to protect you from danger but it may get in the way of you doing things that might be fun and an enjoyable. Sadness should tell you that you have lost something. The part you that wants to achieve should motivate you to do more and better things. Sometimes that achievement part tries to crowd out your relationships with family and friends.
Your parts need to respect each other.
Your many parts, your roles, your skills, your interests, your relationships, all need to work in harmony. When one part takes over and becomes your sole mode of existence the other parts suffer. The work part needs to respect your family life part. The part of you that feels the guilt needs to learn to respect the part of you that needs to grow.
You can’t keep discarding parts of yourself.
It’s tempting to start discarding parts. You don’t like feeling sad so you try to avoid anything that might involve more risk. Your fear of losing something prevents you from ever having it. Some people cut off feelings. Others may discard memories, skills, and hobbies that they used to love.
Too much healthy food can make you sick.
I thought I should include this warning. People who have been through difficult times, who think of themselves as being in recovery, are often tempted to binge on healthy activities. Too much hard work can take away all the pleasures of life. Be careful that in your effort to improve your life and be healthy, you don’t avoid everything that might be fun and enjoyable or those activities that could be a growth promoting opportunity.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books