The Four Faces of You – Part One: The Emotional Self
By Jim Self and Roxane Burnett
“These bodies are perishable; but the dwellers in these bodies are eternal, indestructible and impenetrable.” – The Bhagavad Gita
Phillip, Emma, Mendelson and Spatia have been roommates for many years and are continually learning how to live together in peace and cooperation. Each is a very strong-willed individual and has well-defined agendas, passions, abilities and desires. It is the beginning of spring and all four roommates want to throw a party. This is a perfect chance for each of them to demonstrate creativity and genius. The challenge they face is how to pull off a successful party for their guests, while still allowing each other full creative expression.
You see, Mendelson’s idea of good music is classical, softly played in the background, so the guests may talk and discuss interesting topics. Emma wants to play music that stirs the emotions and draws people to move and dance. Phillip, who tends to dominate, believes it’s important to show their guests the abundance and good taste they have, while Spatia likes to keep it simple. As you can see, each roommate has his or her own opinion about the best party to throw. Can these four diverse personalities join forces and pull together a party that satisfies them all as well as their guests?
You, too, have four very unique, individual aspects that together compose who you are as a total being. You have an Emotional Self, Mental Self, Spiritual Self and Physical Self. Full Self-Integration requires all four aspects to be recognized, satisfied and respected. They all must be honored and given what they need to become and remain healthy. This integration brings balance into your outer and inner life. The emotional, spiritual, mental and physical selves are like legs under a stool. If out of balance with each other, the stool topples over and anything resting on its seat is overturned. A party designed by a group of conflicting, disjointed roommates can result in discomfort for all involved.
A person who allows her Emotional Self to dominate her life is ungrounded and may consistently create drama and chaos in her life. Something is always “wrong” with her. Her personal challenge is neutrality and focus. A person who is allowing his Mental Self to dominate his life may experience a lack of warmth that prevents friendships from forming or he may worry excessively and focus predominately on the future. His challenge is judgment.
A person who allows his Physical Self to dominate may be underdeveloped mentally and emotionally and finds his body to be his only concern. He may love the material and become obsessive or despondent when his body ages or fails to operate the way he expects. His personal challenge is greed. A person whose primary focus is upon the non-physical or spiritual aspects often has a difficult time understanding the ways of the world and relating to others. The needs of the body, mind and emotions may be neglected and ignored. Isolation is this person’s challenge.
Another way to imagine these aspects is to recognize they represent the four quadrants of your brain. Dr. Paul MacLean, former head of the Department of Brain Evolution at the National Institute of Mental Health, refers to the r-complex, or reptilian cortex, as the portion located at the brain stem. It is concerned with survival, territory and procreation. This is also called the “Lizard Brain” by Glynda-Lee Hoffmann in The Secret Dowry of Eve. It is where your Physical Self lives.
The limbic system or mammalian cortex is located on top of and surrounding the r-complex and is the home of the Emotional Self. The rational mind, or neocortex, is the familiar, convoluted mass of gray matter. It is where the Mental Self lives and is the intellect, analyzer and reasoning center. The prefrontal cortex is located directly behind the forehead and is also called the frontal lobes. It is the home of your intuitive or Spiritual Self. It is the portion of the brain that science has barely discovered, yet has been a part of our human anatomy for up to 200,000 years.
All four aspects are essential for a complete human experience. To deny or emphasize one over another creates an imbalance in the entire system and the four-legged stool topples to the floor. An effective way to balance and align these four aspects is to personify them. As an adult kindergartner, just pretend these four parts of your brain and your personality are roommates with unique and equally valuable contributions to offer. Together they can create the best party ever conceived.
The Care and Feeding of Your Four Selves: The Emotional Self
Personified, this aspect of you can be a young, immature child whose emotions are quite evident. Imagine a child who is allowed to fully express her energy-in-motion, e-motion. She is non-verbal and so must express her needs through dreams, behavior patterns, acting-out and will power. She cries, perhaps not understanding why. She laughs at the silly things. This child is volatile and unpredictable. She feels vulnerable at times and impassioned at others.
Sometimes the Emotional Self (let’s call her Emma) feels misunderstood, not cared for and disrespected. How she communicates this is often erratic and not generally understood by the other selves. When Emma tries harder to be heard, the Physical and Mental Selves push harder to quiet her. Emma internalizes her fire and sooner or later, this smoldering fire of energy-in-motion manifests in ways the other selves feel even more uncomfortable with.
If your Emotional Self is not allowed freedom, she will eventually affect the Physical Self (Phillip – this is kindergarten, remember) by causing physical pain or illness. The Mental Self (Mendelson) may experience confusion and mental unclarity. When this small whimpering child turns into a big, out-of-control beast, Mendelson and Phillip can no longer ignore their discomfort and must allow Emma to contribute to the house party (your life experience) in ways she enjoys. A healthy and respected Emotional Self enjoys her job. Here are a few items in her job description:
1. All emotions – those stimulated from both internal stimuli and data and those in response to external data and events.
2. How we feel about ourselves in general, if we like, value or respect ourselves.
3. The feelings of conviction we attach to our beliefs.
4. The parent/child bonding relationship.
5. Intimate emotions with a significant other.
In addition to simply recognizing your Emotional Self and personifying her, what else can you do to assist this part of you to come into alignment?
1. Establish a line of communication with her. Talk to her and discover what your Emotional Self enjoys and needs.
2. Stimulate emotions and observe them as they move through your experience. Watch movies that evoke emotions, and not just the socially acceptable ones like sadness or love. Rent a movie that stimulates fear, irritation or anger and notice where in your body that emotion lives. After the movie, you may want to make separations from it by Grounding the movie from the uncomfortable body part, using your Grounding Line.
3. As you notice comfortable or uncomfortable emotions rise to the surface, verbally tell someone (your dog counts) what and where the emotions are. You may not have words for them. That’s okay. Just get as close and specific as you can. This validates your Emotional Self and helps her feel accepted.
Learning to heal your Emotional Self can be illustrated through Ben’s story. Ben was experiencing the frustration of a six-year divorce process. Looking at Ben, one saw a very grounded, quiet, gentle man. He admitted however, that he could get spontaneously angry and that side always frightened him. He felt out of control and was afraid he would hurt someone. While using his Energy Tools of Flowing Energy and Grounding, Ben personified Emma (his Emotional Self) as a ferocious dragon, guarding her hoard of treasure. He gave Emma permission to exist and express herself.
Ben talked to Emma and allowed her to fully be who she is. When his Emotional Self finally heard a “Hello” and was acknowledged, she had permission to express herself. In a very short time, through an easy, safe, nonthreatening and playful imagery process, Ben and Emma became friends. The resistance Ben previously experienced as fear and doubt vanished.
Ben’s Emotional Self communicates with him now through slight, non-painful sensations, particularly in his belly. This is Ben’s clue that his emotions are activated and have some information for him. Ben’s increased awareness and appreciation for this aspect of himself has opened a door of communication that allows him to recognize when he is on-track or off his path. Ben is able to recognize strong emotion before it gets out of control. His relationship with his Emotional Self is now active, safe, healthy and creative. Ben is noticing that he laughs more and can get angry without the accompanying urge to hit something. During our work together, Emma transformed from a fierce dragon to a lion, to a German Shepherd, to a Golden Retriever, as Ben continued to allow that energy-in-motion to simply be okay.
Ben also released a good deal of resistance toward his ex-wife, Suzie. As Ben recognized and allowed his resentment and anger toward her to exist, with no resistance or judgment, it became unnecessary for him to express it. Ben simply noticed the emotions rise and fall in his body as sensations and stiffness. Within a very short period of time, the ex-wife came to an easy agreement with Ben. Because Ben released the resistance and the charge he was holding, the pattern of relating to Suzie was disrupted and she no longer had anything to push against. She completed the divorce paperwork quickly and was soon on to her next relationship.
In Part Two – The Physical Self