Listen to those Voices inside your head

painted smiley on human fingers

Are you the same person when you go the office as when you pick up your child from school? Or when you greet your spouse after you haven’t seen then for a while, as when you go clothes shopping, or meet up with a friend?

Are you really the same person?

I invite you to consider that actually your not! Instead, each of these situations bring forth a different part of you, each unique and with a personality all its own. This is the view taken by Hal and Sidra Stone who created the Voice Dialogues model of the psyche in the early 1970’s. This model has been used by coaches and therapists over the last 50 years to help people make better decisions, and to have better relationships both professional and personal . It can bring new insights into your your dreams as well as deepening self knowledge, and help to bring your life back on track if things have gone awry

I discovered this process about 6 months ago and I recently completed a Voice Dialogues Facilitator training with Tim Kelley .  Often when we start out the parts unfortunately don’t always get along or agree with each other. As you beginning to get acquainted with your parts, Voice Dialogues helps you bring your parts into better alignment. It puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life, rather than being pulled this way and that by the needs and interests of all the parts that live inside you. Voice Dialogues is as structured process for talking with parts, in which you are facilitated by a Voice Dialogue Facilitator.

One of my clients has been using Voice Dialogues to understand why she has burned out.  She discovered that she has a high need please other people because of something that happened when she was 5 years old when she saw her mother crying with worry about her.  This part of her decided that she was going to be a good girl and please her mother.  Another  client has been using the process to understand  both  the attraction and  the difficulties she has with her partner.

Father and son driving car

As part of the training which I have just completed, I have been diving deeply into the life and world of my own parts. Its been an interesting journey of self discovery, and now that I know my parts, we can talk to each other when ever we want. It is bringing me a lot.

I ‘d like to share a personal story in illustration, that happened the other day. I had promised myself a day at the sea side, (more precisely, a young part of me had told me she wanted to go the seaside). My responsible, manager like part had gotten me organised. I had booked a car from the community car program, as I don’t own my own car. The young part was thrilled, its still new for me to keep the promises I make to myself.

In the morning when I woke up there was a Voice inside my head, and I recognised this Voice, (my Voices can get very animated, they really get into the parts – but its not like that for everyone). This Voices calls itself the Wise one, I realised later that Worrier is probably more accurate, but I decided to listen to it. It was worried about my travelling there, that there would be danger on the road, and it was also worried that I would get back late and then spoil my next day, which was full of plans. In the past when I would become aware of such concerns I would either ignore them completely, and then not take proper care of myself, or I would do exactly what they said and cancel my plans to have fun.

This time I did something different. I listened to the Voice. Revolutionary! I decided that I would go ahead with my trip and take extra special care driving and I would make sure to not come home late. I would take careful note of any danger on the road and see how it compares with the concern that had been raised, for my future reference . I was taking the Voice seriously for once, and I wanted to check its reliability.

I got myself ready and went to pick up my Cambio car.  Cambio works pretty well most of the time, the car is there and off you go. Every once in while there’s some kind of hitch, there is some kind of problem that takes bit of sorting out. This time I got to the station and no car! It turned out that the car had been parked on another street about 5 minutes away, so no big hassle, but I had to go and get it.

Aha, is that what that Voice was trying to tell me this morning?! I did make sure to thank it for its concern , as it didn’t want me the inconvenience of having to get the car.

I was curious to see what else might happen on my trip. Nothing did. I had an easy straightforward drive to the coast, and a great day on the beach. The young part that had asked to go was thrilled that I had made it happen and that I had kept this promise to her.

Everything was fine and dandy, until it was time to coming home. I had eaten out at the restaurant where I had parked. The sun was beginning to set and I love sunsets….. My Young part wanted me to go and take one last look at the beach. So I started walking down there, but it was taking much longer than I remembered. Normally I would just keep going regardless, but this time I d id something different. I stopped, I turned around, and I got into the car and I drove home.

I had made a promise to that Worried part of me that I would not get home late, and I wanted to keep that promise too. Its true I possibly missed an amazing sunset, and I caught glimpses of it as I was driving home. It surely was a great sunset, but I was glad to be driving home. Typically I would choose to watch the sun go down to the last rays were gone and there is place for that – but not tonight. I was proud of myself that I got home about the time I wanted, and I had kept the promises I made to myself. This was new and wonderful. I felt calm, and grateful for my day and for the new sense of self.


Do you make promises to yourself and then find it hard to keep them?

What strategies do you use?

Please share comments below.


A new way to deal with anger…


Today, well  all week actually, I am in a bit of a spat with someone – they did something that really upset me, made me angry, that has consequences for me –I could go on, but I will spare you.  In any case, I am still pretty upset about the whole situation…

I am writing about it here because  I’d like to reflect on how my response to it today is so  different than how I’d deal with this type of situation in the past.  Previously I have not been known to do well with anger…… I have been reactive and  difficult to be around. In fact, I’d do anything other than just feel  the anger, so that I can move on to get life back on track – despite this irritating thing this other person did.

Through my work with focusing – I have learnt a new way to respond , to ground myself  and the results this morning were remarkable.

This morning before leaving home, I was triggered again by an email  I read. There I was fuming mad all over again!!   I had been planning to ride my bike to my office  – and I was suddenly was aware of an inner  voice saying ‘ be careful – you’re ungrounded ,  it ‘ll be a mess!’.  This voice knowing that I have a history of accidents happening when I’v e been ungrounded – and some of them have been pretty nasty over the years. It has been at my peril when I didn’t pay attention to this voice in the past!

Today though I heard an inner response ‘Hang on a minute, I want to ride my bike! – I just got it repaired yesterday and it’s no good just sitting in the shed’.  I took  another moment – and sat with these two voices, allowing them both to be there. Then I realised that I needed to ground myself and it would be fine!  So I did just that, I took the moment to feel my whole body – to feel the ground beneath my feet , to feel the energy and to feel everything that was going on for me right there in the moment.  I felt  the energy pulsating through me, as I sent it down into the ground.

Quite quickly I felt gratitude, for my life and for this practice, even as the anger was still present – but I felt alive in it, in a totally new way.  So I duly cycled to work,  and even as I was cycling along I could feel the ground through my feet,  through the pedals in fact – that was a bit of a weird experience I have to admit!!

I am glad to say I am now safely sitting in my office writing this blog!!

It never  ceases to amaze me how the simple act of grounding  and making space for everything thats there gives me more space and freedom in my life.

No More Running Away


I was presenting at a conference the other week, giving a workshop on grounded presence. Over here . It was a new idea for most of the participants in the room, some of the people really got into it – and got a lot out of it.  Almost inevitably though, there was a reluctant participant.

At the end of our session  she told me that she did give it a short try but quickly decided that it wasn’t for her. ‘With this technique  I may as well go for a run,  I was hoping for something that will help me when I am talking for example with my boss, this obviously won’t help me there’.

Unfortunately  I didn’t get the  chance to give her my full answer at the time  – so I am posting it here.  Actually I am a great fan of running – at least I used to be. My Dad got us all into running when I was a kid and I had often found it was a great way to let off steam when I got frustrated with people – especially for example, a difficult boss.   Years ago pounding the pavements was the best tool I had and I will be forever grateful for the Happy Mondays Running Club in Norwich for getting me running again. Running brings you back into contact with your breathing, your body, with the environment, with yourself, and with the people you are with – if you are running in company. It’s all good stuff.

However running does have its limitations – when you are in the middle of a conversation and you don’t like the way its going – it’s usually quite difficult to drop it all,  and come back to it after your run and your shower…..  when you might still get triggered all over again.

Grounded presence is much more immediate  – you simply stay present with what is happening, and  start noticing – sounds simple doesn’t it !

‘Oh, I am trying to have a conversation with this person,  but I find they don’t give me much time to answer.  They seem to be a bit aggressive.  Hmmm …. I am noticing that my feet are on the floor and the chair is supporting me, the air is warm.   Let’s see what happens if I ask them to slow down a little and give me a bit of space to find what I  want to say…..

Just taking a moment to notice the obvious might seem  a strange thing to do .  Like it’s so obvious why would you bother?  On the other hand, its so immediate and can be done so quickly, why wouldn’t you bother?

In the past, in those difficult situations,  I would get more and more frustrated and wound up, and then be hard on myself at the end of it for how reactive I had been. Worse, I might feel like I had completely abandoned myself and let the other person say whatever they wanted.  I  could end up  feeling that they had walked all over me.    These days, thankfully,  it’s a different story…..  I still get frustrated sometimes of course – but I notice the signals early,  I come back to myself, I find my feet on the floor, find the chair supporting me. I suddenly feel I am somehow bigger and I can watch compassionately the part of me that is caught up in this struggle.  This gives me the wherewithal to say  ‘Erm …..I can see that is your perspective on things – but I have a different perspective that is equally valid and different to yours, and this is how I see it …. ‘   Usually the other person can hear my views and we can together find a way forward that works for us both.  It’s definitely better than storming out the door and looking for my running shoes as I did in the past!   Why don’t you give it a try!