Internal communication— fostering dialogue and cooperation between the various “parts” of yourself— isn’t terribly complicated. But it does take some specific steps, in a specific order, for it to work well.
First thing’s first: the reason why your internal “parts” don’t want or like to talk to you— or to each other— is because they are used to you either denying their existence, or trivializing their needs.
In our culture, we are really, really good at pretending that we are all of one mind about things.
It’s seen as a mark of maturity or intelligence to be “consistent” in our thinking and feeling.
We think that if we confide to someone that we are of very mixed feelings or of multiple different minds about something, we’ll be considered flaky and immature.
So we get into the habit of denying and disowning the “parts” of ourselves.
And we DEFINITELY aren’t comfortable talking to them, or encouraging them to talk to each other.
That’s the first ting we need to get past if you want internal communication to work
So you sit down with a sheet of paper, and you write out a statement that is addressed to the various parts of you, a statement that I call the “Statement of Solidarity.” It goes something like: “Right now I’m talking to the various parts of myself, those parts I know about and those parts I don’t really know about. I want you to know that what you think and feel and want are important to me. I want you to know that we’re all in this together. I want you to know I’m willing to listen to you, if you’re wiling to talk to me.”
That might all sound like a mouthful. It might sound awkward. It might sound scripted.
Doesn’t matter. Write it word for word.
(If you get into the swing of internal communication— if you get good at it after awhile— you can start to tailor the Solidarity Statement with your own language. But until you get to that point, I really do recommend you write it out word for word as I recommend. It hits all the bases— and I can assure you that I’ve included all of those distinct bases in that statement for specific reasons.)
Then you write out what I call a Statement of Support. It goes something like: “I want you to know that I am willing to do everything I can to get your needs met, if you tell me about them in a way I can understand and that is not harmful to me or someone else.”
Again, might sound awkward, but it’s important that the Support Statement hit those specific bases. It’s different from the Solidarity Statement, but an equally important part of the formula.
You start out with the Solidarity Statement and the Support Statement every single time you attempt internal communication.
And, yes: you do it in writing. Every single time.
I know, I know. Doing things in this structured a way— and especially doing them in WRITING— makes the whole thing a hassle.
Do it anyway.
Some things we just have to do in writing. Even if it SEEMS like you should be able to do it all in your head— write it down.
It’s important that some processes take place somewhere OTHER than in your head.
The Statements of Solidarity and Support are only the first two steps to effective internal communication— but they are the steps that are most often overlooked and underutilized when people attempt the process.
Time and time again I’ve seen people wonder why they’re not getting results from their attempts at internal communication. They’re either not getting responses from their “parts;” or their “parts” are being oppositional and uncooperative; or the entire process is feeling like it’s going nowhere.
It’s usually because they’ve neglected to set the stage for productive give and take with their “parts”— after years of trying to deny and disown their very existence.
We have to keep in mind that communication with ourselves has many similarities to communication with others.
You wouldn’t be open to talking or compromising with someone who denied your existence or belittled your needs.
Neither are your “parts.”
So start where you need to start: Get really good, word for word, at the Statements of Solidarity and Support.
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