What qualities do happy people have?
There are important qualities in people which make them harmonious and happy. Abraham Maslow described them perfectly with these characteristics:
· The ability to perceive reality efficiently
· Tolerate ambiguity or uncertainty
· Accept themselves and others for what they are
· Autonomous and independent
· Compassion for humanity
If we lack these qualities, is there anything we can do? Yes, there is! Each and every one of us can develop these qualities by cultivating self-awareness: we can practice mindsight and mindfulness.
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Ego states can be used as mindsight tool.
Mindsight is a concept which has become well known by the psychiatrist Dan Siegel. According to Siegel, mindsight is your capacity to perceive the mind of yourself and others. He is not the first one who uses mindsight concept, though. Philosopher Colin McQuinn writes about two sights: Body’s usual way to see and to see with mind’s eye. With the latter he refers to human ability to use imagination. It is the faculty which creates our conceptual understanding, too.
I use mindsight to describe our ability to use imagination to sense, describe and integrate our inner worlds, including emotional experiences. This sensing is work we do with our inner images. The better we get in interpreting our inner world’s messages, the better we get in seeing other persons as they are. Imagination is a very important, and undervalued, part of us. It is a part of each and everyone’s true existence.
One simple tool for starting to develop mindsight is to map your ego states. These ego states are parts of your ego; they are emotional and cognitive conscious states and they are somatic as well. They often represent different kind of memories and belief systems inside of you. By listening in altered conscious states (hypnosis, self-hypnosis, creative trances, meditation) to your emotions and feelings, we can get cues about our deepest ego states.
Our body may hold several negative emotional ego states, sometimes filled with hatred and fear, which in the long term can damage to our health and (social) surroundings. To become the authentic YOU, you have to heal these states. Unfinished narratives have to get their resolutions.
You are not just one of your ego states. In a healthy state, you are your body and you are the integration of all of them. Both mindsight and mindfulness practices enhance your ability to get in touch even with your unconscious core beliefs. In this healing process you can exploit your ego states. They can be seen as gestalts of your Inner Theatre, which you can use for experiential learning. They and you! With imagination they help you to categorize and integrate your thoughts, emotions and bodily feelings. Ego states can be used in therapy, coaching and counselling. They can become tools for self-actualization since ego states can enhance the above mentioned Maslow´s qualities.
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First – find your Meta State.
In Ego state journaling process (Inner Theater) you cultivate your drama intelligence. When you get in a dialogical drama process using ego states, you can become a true architect of your own ever-flowing experience.
Your imagination and ego states can create smaller or bigger miracles in your life. Reflection with our Inner Theater can offer you mindsight, a path to true existence. Too many people in the Western world have as executive ego states transformed introjection of their peers. When you are not who you really are, it makes you conflicted and easily suggestible by authorities. Many of us are not walking the paths with our own feet.
With the ego state process, you can find a new center of your consciousness, called observer or meta state (third person’s view =“director state” outside all the other states). That makes a new kind of inner drama possible. In other words, within the meta state you can start to make a mindful self-inquiry for developing your mindsight. Your feet start to carry you to your own path of life and this makes you feel happy and more congruent.
You can turn off the autopilot of your mind and become the producer, the director and actor of your own inner play. And actually with this imaginative work, you integrate and create new connection in your neural networks. This makes new real life actions and experiences possible.
You have to be able in this self-actualization process to forgive your old hurts and disappointments. The negative emotional ego states (for example, anger and fear filled ones) are not negative in short term, they are invitations for new drama dialogues and new insights. The message of your ego states (especially faded states) has to be listened in an atmosphere of nurturing for resolution. It can be best done in therapeutical groups or in therapy. Getting to know and heal your parts is a reflexive, therapeutic creative process, which can utilize many kinds of wisdom traditions and their metaphors. In Inner Theater you can integrate the ones that resonate to your inner feelings.
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Ego states are always somatic reactions.
In new integrative health views (using both science and old wisdom traditions), as in Meta Health views, emotional blocks can be mapped from your body. Certain negative emotional ego states cause stress in your bodymind system and that is why they should be healed. You can get cues from their origin from Meta Health maps.
Gregg Braden writes that with each nonphysical feeling, emotion, and belief that we create within our bodies, there is the physical equivalent of that experience that becomes the makeup of our cells.
Many of our physical illnesses are impacted or connected to our conflicted or faded ego states. It could explain why some people with same genes do get certain illnesses and others not.
Here is a chart from Louise Hay of our emotional pain. It can give you clues to where your somatic problem’s emotional root is located, but most of all, you have to trust on your own experience. You are the best professional regarding your own identity narrative.
How to begin?
Jan Sky from Australia, author of “The Many Parts of You” has developed a very simple and clever tool for mapping your go States. You can map your conscious and sometimes even some pre-conscious ego states with a therapeutic tool, called ESI (Executive State Identification).
After mapping, you become already more conscious of yourself. It opens you to meta state. People get a lot of unnecessary problems in their lives because they use inappropriate ego states in current situation time and place. The ego state may have been appropriate in past situations, but the array of minds have not been updated.
So in ESI® , we map our ego states. We all have at every moment one ego state active. It is called executive etate. In addition we have some non-executive states in which we have easy access. They support the executive state and these states in certain social situations can be easily activated. We can carry these so-called retro states, which can sometimes pose inner conflict. Additionally, we have underlying states which rarely come to the surface. They have often been created in our childhood for your protection. They can be traumatic faded states, which carry difficult feelings and an image of a forgotten person or thing.
Introjections are very important part of being. By modelling you can even create new introjections. Actually in successful therapy, the therapist becomes your new healing introjection. We can start to consciously and emphatically use our mirror-neurons to mimic and imitate other persons as new introjections. That gives us a great possibility for change.
In my experience ESI® is a simple method which we can use in therapy, coaching, counselling and in therapeutic artistic methods, like reflexive journaling (Inner Theater). Ego states can be great tools for “contemplative learning”, cultivating self-awareness. In the journaling process we must first make sure that we have nurturing, mature and realistic adult ego states. If you haven’t got such, you have to find them first. If you have serious mental problems, it is always good idea to consult your therapist, before starting journaling. The mature adult states are best developed in hypnotherapy or in therapeutic group.
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In Inner Theater, you exploit ego states in journaling.
As I mentioned, in Western culture there is, in philosophy and contemplative practices, a long tradition of creative reading and reflexive writing. In Ego state journaling process we first map our ego states and then cultivate creative writing in self-hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis means just that you encourage yourself to be able to close your mind from disturbing stimuli and start to use your mindsight: self-listening and imagination. With your adult, nurturing, realistic parts you can become little by little a therapist of yourself.
Reflection happens by reading different kind of healing traditions and self-help books (a good book to start with is Gordon Emmerson’s Happy Parts, Happy Selfhttp://www.egostatetherapy.com) and intuitively finds new subjects to write about from the texts you have previously written. You intuitively find new ideas to journal, trusting your new knowledge and body messages.
If you succeed in your self-hypnotic journaling process, you can reach even your underlying states, so you cultivate self-awareness by making unconscious material conscious. This also means that, at the same time, your destructive ego states can be transformed or replaced by life-affirming ones.
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Free yourself from Monkey Thoughts!
Hypnotherapist Alex Parker writes that there are two ways to get in touch with your unconscious material:
1. Relax or distract the conscious defences and Free Radical Thoughts through focus and the control of arousal.
2. Bombard the Array of Mind with a consistent and repetitive stream of new information (affirmations, religious study).
Before starting the therapeutic journaling process it is important that you can make your monkey thoughts (Free Radical Thoughts of your introjections) visible by practicing mindfulness. I personally did this by being mindfully in nature.
After finding your observing meta state by practicing mindful exercises and mapping your ego states, you can start to bombard the array of mind with a repetitive stream of new information. This is created by different beliefs of your ego states involving various memories, views and belief-systems (including the ideas of your nurturing adult ego state). You use your ego states to improvise play in your Inner Theater. You exploit spontaneous flow of different ego states, which makes your parts verbally more visible and conscious. Within their dialogue, in a respectful atmosphere, you promote their integration. All of your ego states must be treated with compassion. During this “contemplative learning work”, you can utilize different kinds of visual symbols and verbal metaphors.
Your ego states are your helpers. You have to listen their voices, which sometimes are heard just as subtle inner whispers or felt by tiny little cues of your body. By practicing mindsight, emphatically listening to yourself, your chosen peers and their new introjections, little by little, you find the way to listen yourself and other people more honestly. Your mindsight gets more and more exact with your imagination.
When you bombard your unconscious mind with the existing ego states and their ideas, new views and sometimes even old, underlying states start to emerge. Your ego states represent different parts of your brains and body. In the field of hypnosis, we have for decades known that body and mind are not separate unities – actually, you might even say that your unconscious mind is your body. The deepest parts of you can be subtle somatic feelings, which can be verbalized by using your imagination. To know your self is to integrate your ego states. After integration, your states are not faded, retro or conflicted. They are normal. You know yourself; you have integrated your parts.
As Parker writes, the new information which arises in the process has to become assimilated as part of the individual’s whole. It needs to be accommodated by an adaptable array of mind, otherwise they will be incongruent and will cause serious anxiety as the individual struggles between the values of opposing introjects. So in the person’s mind there has to occur a systemic change. This happens through guided-imagination negotiations, providing your faded states what they need.
My suggestion is that you start the self-awareness process by setting as a goal the above-mentioned Maslow’s characteristics of a self-actualized person. It is a huge goal, but with support of your therapist and/or coach you can work to accomplish it. Complicated? No, it really is rather simple: Healthy Parts = Happy Self!
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Is cultivating self-awareness by Inner Theatre journaling dangerous?
Difficult emotions can arise in the process. If you are not sure about your personal resources, it is best to start the process in a therapeutic group or in therapy. My opinion is, that life is about taking risks and challenges. Too many people have quite foolish ideas about their inner worlds with rigid, restricting core beliefs. This can be dangerous for your health. You can choose to allow the fear of unknown and introjected, unquestioned core beliefs guide you through your whole life, but that means you never get to know who you really are.
Another possibility is that you become autonomous and authentic. You start to listen to your emotions and body; you accept the responsibility and gift of creating and defining your inner world. This gives you resources to protect yourself and live purposefully and compassionately your own authentic life for the benefit of yourself, and for your local and global community.
The transformation of your mind can sometimes result in drastic alteration in your physical reality. I have witnessed it happen in many persons, including myself.
Emmersson, Gordon, Healthy Parts, Happy Self
Parker, Alex, Hypnotherapy with Hypthetical Mindfulness in Counselling and Hypnotherapy
Sarvela, Kati, Sisäinen teatteri – luova kirjoittaminen tietoisuustaitona
Sky, Jan, Many Parts of You