Sunday, November 23, 2014


 It is common for us to be triggered by outer circumstances into one of our old ways of being in the world. We can frame these ways of being in the world as our subpersonalities – parts of ourselves that may become dominant at times. In my last message, I listed a few of these subpersonalities that we can become over-identified with: the Inner Critic, the Judge, the People Pleaser, etc.
 The issue for integral psycho-spiritual practice is, how can we free ourselves from the trance of over-identification with our subpersonalities when our consciousness becomes hijacked by one? This depends on the specific subpersonality that we are dealing with, but in general, there are some practices that help. The key one is the ongoing practice of mindfulness: developing through ongoing practice the mirror awareness that allows us to step back from and become less identified with our thoughts and emotions. As I shared with the group last time, it can be very helpful to be able to sense and identify these complexes or subpersonalities when they surface.
 As a specific example, I will share about the “Pusher,” one of my subpersonalities. The Pusher complex shows up when I am doing something where I am afraid that another person is going to be displeased with my performance. When this happens, I tend to go into hyperdrive and try to make something happen ASAP!  Underneath is the fear of displeasing, but sometimes I lose touch with this and go into efforting and worrying accompanied by a diffuse anxiety.
 The way that I  free myself  is by: 1) catching myself going into this hyperdrive and 2) consciously pulling back, slowing down, 3) allowing myself to feel the anxiety and 4) giving myself  love and compassion. 5) I gradually undermine the core belief that I am in trouble. 6) I meditate to let go of the thought/emotion/energy pattern that is this Pusher complex. Also, 7) I find Yoga practice a great boon to my being able to let down and relax from the grip of anxiety and inner tension that is the signature energetic pattern of the Pusher. So I use somatic (body) awareness, breath, cognitive, emotional and spiritual processes to become aware of, work through, and release the Pusher complex, when it threatens to take over my consciousness.
 As we discussed in group, the subpersonalities to watch out for are the ones that are fear based. That means they are triggered by the emotion of fear and fear based thinking, worry, etc. What are the fear based subpersonalities that operate in your consciousness? Try listing some and getting to know them better. You might very well gain some freedom by doing this work! Here are some of the cast of characters to be on the lookout for that are usually fear based: the Perfectionist, Inner Critic, Pusher, Workaholic, Rageaholic, People Pleaser, Control Freak, Rescuer, Worry Wart, Planner, Avoiders of all kinds, including the Procrastinator, etc.
 Namaste, Robert Cornell LMFT,

Saturday, November 1, 2014


We typically consider ourselves to be of one piece, and when we don’t behave like we usually think that we do, we say,” I wasn’t myself when I did that.” Well if we were not ourselves, then who were we? Did someone slip into our body and take over?  One way to look at this is to imagine that we are formed of a committee of different selves that each of which may show up as “us” in different times and circumstances. For instance, when we are interacting with our children, it brings forth our parent self. When we are reacting to criticism from someone, it may bring out our own Inner Critic or some kind of defender. Depending upon the situation, one or another of our inner cast of characters will be drawn upon to respond.

 Looked at from this perspective, what constitutes mental health is 1) that we are aware of our inner bit part actors, 2) we can have some influence over them, and 3) they can work together harmoniously. So in this model, when we feel conflicted we have a conflict going on between two or more of our inner parts. We are going to continue to discuss this way of looking at our personality for some time now and see what insights we might draw from this model to understand and work with ourselves more skillfully. For those who find this idea fascinating you might want to read some of Dr. Richard Schwartz’s books on Inner Family Systems.

 Some of the bit parts I will be introducing in subsequent talks are:

            One who can step back from the drama and make clear     choices as to what to do
             Angry One, Placator, Nice Girl, Nice Boy
            Inner Critic, Perfectionist, Pusher, Control Freak

            Procrastinators, Addicts, Avoiders

-Robert Cornell