Given the assumption that a person’s identity consists of multiple personality components, wouldn’t it be fascinating to explore these nuances in depth? But how do we become motivated to do this? Are there situations that can inspire us to try to gain a better understanding of our experiences and emotions? Could a life crisis, a professional crisis, or even a personal crisis motivate us in this process? What would motivate us to seek a deeper understanding of our inner experience and feelings? Are there ways to reflect on ourselves that might help us lead more fulfilling lives?
In “Women Who Run With the Wolves”, Clarissa Pinkola Estés tells the story of La Loba, a crow who lives on the steep slopes of the Tarahumara Reserve in Mexico. La Loba is deeply connected to the wolves and searches for their bones in the canyon. Once the bones of a wolf skeleton are carefully arranged and assembled on the ground, La Loba begins to breathe new life into the skeletal remains through her own magical power. The wolf’s flesh, tendons, and fur gradually manifest again as she performs her ritual. Finally, La Loba was able to resurrect the wolf with her deep singing and intense incantation. As La Loba sings, the wolf leaps up and runs through the canyon in pursuit of freedom. Upon following the wolf’s track up to the horizon, one may even glimpse the shape of a woman walking away, having shed the appearance of the wolf that she once was.
Using this metaphor, we can then put together our numerous “bones of identity” as well as our ancestors’ “backbones” and “ligaments of relationships” until our authentic life path can be seen and recognized. As with a jigsaw puzzle, our lives can be pieced together. By recovering every part of ourselves that is unknown to us, we may discover the colors of our own lives and stories. Is there any magic that can help us rediscover our heart beat and love for ourselves? When we look at all of our inner parts holistically as one, what might we discover about ourselves? What rituals might help awaken our soul to its true nature?
I have found that the magic of the unknown often moves me out of my habitual thought patterns and beliefs, thus allowing me to reconnect with the hidden parts of myself. Naturally, it wasn’t easy to navigate transformations, reflections, and changes. My primary support in the difficult times came from creative approaches such as art and movement, which helped me to tap into a sense of freedom that kept me going. In many instances, creative approaches have allowed me to learn about and experience myself in new and unexpected ways. The main characteristic shared by most methods and techniques is that I eventually reassembled the pieces of conscious and unconscious content, which led to a stronger sense of wholeness and sense of Self. It is true that discovering our true self can sometimes be a profoundly moving experience. Our journey through dark and light inner valleys ultimately results in lasting and rewarding changes in how we experience life in general.
It doesn’t matter how we attain self-awareness – for instance through the dance therapeutic method of authentic movement, SoulCollage®, or by studying archetypal forces in us – we are always (re-)discovering, assembling, redirecting, and transforming the various intrapsychic parts within us. As a result, we develop a deeper sense of wholeness about ourselves, which allows us to live the unique experience carried by each individual.
We are in fact many. We are the kind, the angry, those with ancestors, those with parents and siblings; we are mothers, fathers, the defiant, the rebellious, those who need assistance, the appreciative, the condemning, the independent, the eternal children, and the responsible ones, just to name a few. “Yes, and?” you ask yourself. Don’t we just want to enjoy our everyday lives instead?
In my own experience, self-reflection is the key to personal growth. It isn’t always necessary to go through trauma, burnout, or a life crisis to embark on an introspective journey. Although for some people, these are the triggering events that lead to a deeper self-reflection. Our lives are filled with chronic and acute challenges. Moreover, the reactive psychological effects include fear, helplessness, powerlessness, feeling aggressive, and discouragement. When we go to bed at night, where do we place all the parts of our personality that contain these feelings? How does the unreflected psychological content manifest in our bodies and health? How likely is it that we discover the hidden within us in the face of a conflict with our partner, our superior or our children? Often it is difficult to distinguish the range of our reactions due to the multidimensional nature of our behavior. Does anyone not understand what it feels like to be completely overwhelmed? When we face adversity, how can we still facilitate change and bring out our best selves?
Over the past few years, giving space to the unknown has become one of my most important strategy in life. Feelings, experiences, and mental patterns require space and they need to be seen, illuminated, and accepted. Perhaps, instead of looking outward, we should look inward? During the process of indepth self-reflection, we have the opportunity to meet and connect with our authentic selves. The infinit challenges we face can be demystified and illuminated right here; this is where our potential to transform is unlocked.
We may ask, “Who am I if not many?”. Identities are made up of multiple personalities that each seek to be recognized, lived, and understood. Above all else, they want to be appreciated and loved. The extent to which we may expand beyond our current knowing of who we are could be determined by giving each part of ourselves the appropriate and needed attention. We might consider doing the same and surrendering to the sacred and unknown forces of life, much like La Loba, who reawakens the wolf’s breath through her magic. Transformative processes can do amazing things to us, and we can never even guess what forces lie within us? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to live up to our full potential?
Have you ever thought about how many YOU are?