Our Disowned Selves
What is about certain people who know exactly how to push our buttons and constantly trigger us. Why is that opposites attract? Or after being married for a while our partner says “you are not the man or woman I married.” How is it that someone who appears to be in a stable marriage has a myriad of secret attractions and even affairs?
The answer to many of these questions lies in what is known as our disowned selves. First of all, let it be stated that the human psyche consists of a series of multiple selves. If you ever feel that 15 people live inside you, you are right. Some of the selves are primary in that they constitute our personality – how we know and perceive ourselves. For example, the businessman who is rational, analytical and powerful but never vulnerable. Then there are a multitude of selves which are disowned. We are not conscious of them but they can impact our behaviour in a powerful way.
Regarding the example of the business man, his repressed disowned selves might be represented by his emotional, vulnerable side. For him to become this would mean that he’d be a wuss, something he disrespects. However, we can be assured that he is probably married to an emotional and vulnerable woman. Sometimes he adores for this feminine side and other times she makes him crazy since he regards her as hysterical and weak.
A disowned self is an energy pattern in our psyche that has partially or fully been excluded in our life. It can also hold our unhealed wounds. Every time it emerges it is punished or disapproved of by someone or our inner critic so we shove it back down. To know your disowned selves, all that you need to think of is someone who you intensely dislike or overly admire.
Hal and Sidra Stone, creators of Voice Dialoguing state, “The people who we hate, judge, or have strong negative reactions toward are direct representations of our disowned selves. Conversely, the people who we overvalue emotionally are as well. Here is the Catch 22: in spirituality, we are taught never to judge. Our judge then becomes disowned and we lose this valuable teacher that tell us what is disowned in us and what needs to heal.
The Stones also outline basic psychic laws about our disowned selves:
- For every personality trait we identify with there will be a disowned self of equal and opposite energy. For example, being over-responsible and the part that wants to goof-off.
- For what we repress in our selves, we will attract people who are exactly like our disowned selves. They will extremely trigger us and/or we will adore them too much.
- So as long as a self is disowned in us, we will repeatedly attract the kind of person who holds that pattern.
- When we fall in love, our unconscious selves are projected onto our partner. If we become conscious, we have the chance to develop these traits within ourselves and grow. If we remain unconscious, our relationships can end in disaster or we remain in “empty, boring” marriages that lost their zip many years ago.
So whatever we disown in ourselves we will attract – this is how relationships work. The Stones call this concept Entelechy, “the purposive nature of the psyche that pushes us to complete ourselves, to become all that we can become. If we think of relationship as the vehicle for completing ourselves, then we see the people who carry our disowned selves as catalysts or teachers.” So much pain and misunderstanding in relationships comes from not being aware that we are carrying each other’s disowned selves. In rejecting our disowned selves, we will surely reject our partners, bosses and friends and ultimately our self.
The Stones provide exercises on how we can come to know our disowned selves.
- Think of someone who really triggers you or pushes your buttons and judge. This should not be difficult– don’t get caught in the New Age trap that you never judge. Make an unedited list of everything you judge in them and now you have a list of your disowned selves. Now determine the opposite quality to everything you judged. Does it look familiar? You’ve just met yourself.
- You can also do the same exercise for what you overvalue in a person. For example, he’s so powerful and you are not. So which person is right? Neither of you are since you both have so much to learn from each other by stretching yourselves
It is very normal for married people to feel attractions to other people besides our mates. How we handle them and what we need to learn from them is the real issue. The disowned selves of the person that we have the “secret” attraction to is what we find truly irresistible about them. We don’t necessarily have to have sex with them for this to become problematic. If we obsess enough about them this will disturb the primary energetic linkage with our spouse and our mate will either consciously or unconsciously pick this up.
Some very important lessons around attractions – your primary relationship needs some change and transformation. Are your needs being sufficiently met in this relationship? You will need to look at the disowned selves that are operating here. How does this irresistible person carry your disowned selves or that of your partner? What does this person carry that is lacking in you, your partner or the relationship? This will require a lot of work. Our attractions are signals that we need to do our inner work and examine our relationship. Sometimes this will move us closer to our spouse or be an indicator that we need to move on if we can’t work things through. Either way relationships end up being our teachers.
When we connect to our disowned selves there will be a level of discomfort, stirring and agitation. Traumas frozen in time may also be released and healed. It won’t be fun but it will always be extremely insightful. So let’s remember that the person you dislike, judge, adore or who pushes your buttons is really a teacher that the gods have sent your way so that your soul may continually evolve and grow. This is how the universe works.