We are all the sum total of a number of various parts. Our personalities are never made up of one thing. We all have dominate personality traits and subordinate traits. We have traits that function well under pressure and those that function well when things are calm. Not one of us can say we are one thing and one thing only. Even those most talkative extrovert needs and wants to be quiet and alone at times. It is within everyone of us.
The problem with our traits is we often categorize them and decide which ones we like and which ones we don’t like. We try to set aside and forget about the traits we don’t like, and work to enhance the ones that we do. We have parts of ourselves that we build our whole persona on and completely ignored and neglected others.
“If, for example, I only know my strong, competent self and am never able to embrace my weak or insecure self, I am forced to live a lie. I must pretend that I am strong and competent, not simply that I have strong and competent parts or that under certain circumstances I can be strong and competent. Similarly, if I refuse to face my deceitful self I live an illusion regarding my own integrity. Or if I am unwilling to acknowledge my prideful self, I live an illusion of false modesty.”
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When we separate and ignore parts of ourselves we think that we are helping ourselves and getting rid of what we feel is negative about us. But we take away from ourselves when we do. And the parts we ignore don’t ever actually go away. They just simmer out of our sight, forgotten and ignored. We think we have dealt with them and they are gone but they haven’t gone and they are not getting weaker. In fact out of sight they have begun to build strength and will one day burst forth somewhere. Just like a volcano erupts when it finds a weak spot, so the parts of ourselves we ignore will come out. And they will usually come out in a destructive form.
Many addictions that people suffer from can sometimes be traced to parts of ourselves that we have shut down and ignored. Parts of us that were important parts of ourselves. David Benner wrote “There is enormous value in naming and coming to know these excluded parts of self. My playful self, my cautious self, my exhibitionistic self, my pleasing self, my competitive self and many other faces of my self all are parts of me, whether I acknowledge their presence or not. Christian spirituality involves acknowledging all our part-selves, exposing them to God’s love and letting him weave them into the new person he is making. To do this, we must be willing to welcome these ignored parts as full members of the family of self, giving them space at the family table and slowly allowing them to be softened and healed by love and integrated into the whole person we are becoming.”
In order for us to be whole we need to discover the parts of ourselves that we have cut off and rejected, and begin to understand ourselves as a total picture, not just the design we were trying to become. Our whole being was something that Jesus thought was worth dying for. Everything we are including the parts we reject is part of who we were created to be.
“The self that God persistently loves is not my prettied-up pretend self but my actual self—the real me. But, master of delusion that I am, I have trouble penetrating my web of self-deceptions and knowing this real me. I continually confuse it with some ideal self that I wish I were.”
If we are to truly discover who we are we need to see all the parts of ourselves as important and valuable. Only then can God show us how He designed us to be and only then can we actually become all we were meant to be.
“You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to embrace the reality of who you are. Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be.”