“Those who realize their folly are not true fools.”Zhuangzi
If you are reading this, you are likely afflicted with the human condition (unless you are some sort of super computer who has achieved sentience…in which case, I assure you, I am pro-singularity!). Generally, the human condition is a pretty sweet deal, but it does come with a lot of baggage. One of those pieces of baggage is that voice, radio station, shoulder angel vs. demon, fear, self-doubt, however you experience it, that hooks you away from who you want to be. These hooks can be present all the way throughout a day, for entire weeks, or more sporadically. Some clinicians might refer to this part of ourselves as the superego, internalized self, or conscience. Maybe at times you might experience that it is punitive, overactive, or rigid. Maybe you are one of the lucky few who has a superego that encourages you to keep doing you (you healthy, or unhealthy narcissist you!). If you are a healthy narcissist, please read on out of amusement. If you are a toxic narcissist, then this post will assuredly be super boring.
We are in a relationship with this roommate in our mind. It is just a part of us, but sometimes because of how noisy it might be, we experience it as all of us. I can prove that your harsh inner critic is not your consciousness simply by the fact that you are able to be aware of and think about it (think about that). You’re welcome.
What does your relationship with your superego or that roommate in your mind look like? I encourage you to notice how you communicate with that part of yourself, and what the characteristics of that part of your are. Is that part of you occupying a lot of real estate in your head? Is it unruly and unpredictable? Does it kick you when you are down, or lift you up? I have a quick tip on how to deal with this unwelcome roommate for you, so read on!
Name your internal roommate! I’ve been more and more appreciating the therapy of asking my clients to come up with their own creative name for that part of themselves. There have been some pretty stellar responses that have allowed them to drop the ongoing struggle with trying to evict, or try to negotiate boundaries with their unruly roommates. Naming them has been able to bring that part of themselves to light, and destigmatized it with levity, honesty and creativity. The name I have come up with for that part of myself is “Homer J,” because much like The Simpsons character, it is self absorbed, doesn’t respect my boundaries, is over indulgent, and is not even apologetic for “having enormous character flaws that [it] doesn’t work on.” Ultimately though, I know he is trying in his own way to look out for me and care for me (just like Homer does for his kids).
Even while writing this post, “Homer J.” is chiming in. I already struggle with wondering how my writing will be received or if it will even be viewed as helpful or even viewed for that matter. Prime time for “Homer J.” to offer up his classic advice, “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” Thanks, “Homer J.”! Super helpful right now. While I jest, there really is an element of this that sticks with me and makes me question myself.
You know what would give me more pause though? If all of the sudden, I wasn’t aware that “Homer J.” was that roommate of mine doing that chiming in and it just felt like “I” was having all of those thoughts. Now “I” become the failure, and I then listen to myself and give up, and you don’t see this post.
The power of naming our internal roommate can be pretty immediate because it gives us distance and ways to observe that part of ourselves. This can be where the rest of our work comes in with building a relationship with ourselves that we would like to have through thick and thin.