by Mimi Pettibone
PART OF ME WANTS TO EAT CAKE – A.K.A. Personality Parts and Dreams
At some point, most of us have said something along the lines of “Part of me wants to eat that cake, but another part of me really wants to lose weight!” Or “Part of me wants to be in a relationship, but part of me wants to be single…” or “Part of me wants to buy that new shiny thing, but part of me wants to save money.” Though most of us have not given much thought to this beyond the verbal expression, our language reflects an innate understanding of the concept that we do have many different conflicting ‘parts’ within our psyche. An iconic depiction of this is the proverbial angel and devil sitting on our shoulder. We all have parts within us that are more on the ‘angelic’ side, and other aspects that are a little more ‘devilish’ (but it is not quite so simplistic). Which part wins in terms of our decisions and behaviors can be influenced by our higher consciousness, our self-awareness, and our conditioning.
The basic idea is that we all have different aspects to our personality, different 'states' that we move in and out of at different times throughout the day in different situation and in response to different people. For example, most of us have a 'work' self, a 'relaxed at home' self, a 'responsible' self and a 'playful' self. How we act and behave in the work place, at home, or in a social setting can be very different, and each persona is literally a ‘part’ of our personality. Our playful self can come out at work, the responsible self can do the right thing in a relationship. We are constantly shifting between these states even from one moment to the next. Some parts reveal themselves more than others, and we all have certain aspects that are more dominant in our personality than others.
Many people ask me: “Is it true that every aspect of a dream represents a part of yourself?” This definitely can be the case, and is a fascinating exploration. Yet it is not always the case. Sometimes another person in the dream really represents that person, and the dream may be showing you something about your relationship with them. Even in this case, it can be helpful to look at them as a part of yourself to gain a new perspective. In addition to people in our dreams, the different characters, animals, settings, and even objects can be explored as parts of our own psyche. Using imagination to embody an element from the dream, and speaking as that part can be a profoundly deep experience. I have found this method to access our deepest truths in a way that is more direct than any other way of working with people. Things that were not remotely in our conscious awareness come to the surface, allowing us to move closer to who we really are and what is really true for us.
Different parts within us can be as specific as different body parts competing for our attention. For example, imagine someone in school who is working on a timed exam: their intellect wants them to stay in their seat and finish the exam, yet their body is telling them it’s really time to go to the bathroom! An incredibly funny example similar to this was illustrated in an episode of the TV show ‘Seinfeld’. In this show, Jerry dates a woman whom he finds very physically attractive, but mentally she is totally incompatible with him. In a hilarious metaphorical skit, his brain and his penis duke it out in a chess game!
Because we each have many different aspects to ourselves, our parts will not always agree with each other, which produces internal conflict. One of my favorite ways of working with people is to facilitate these different aspects of personality so each part gets a chance to be heard. This is known as parts work, which can be of great value in decision making, gaining clarity, and calming inner struggle. One of the most wonderful benefits is the sense of peace and calm that comes after sorting through the parts and having them express themselves. The sense of inner conflict that we all experience finally has a chance to resolve, and a state of peace and calm can be obtained. We also gain awareness of the parts, which can help prevent them from taking over when we do not want them to. For example, if ‘the part that wants to eat cake’ always takes over and wins, ‘the part that wants to lose weight’ is never going to be fulfilled. Awareness can help us realize when this is happening, and then we can have a choice about our behavior and decisions. Having a dialogue between the parts can bring new insights and integration, helping us reach our goals in a congruent way without feeling deprived.
If you are having trouble making a decision, experiencing internal conflict, or would like to gain a sense of peace and increase self-awareness, a parts work session could be of great benefit. Working with parts via a dream, or through the dilemmas of waking life can both be incredibly beneficial. Contact Mimi via www.thedreamdetective.com if you would like to schedule a session.
PS For your entertainment, here is a link to a YouTube clip of the above mentioned Seinfeld skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEC7FK0xVTQ&feature=related
Mimi Pettibone is the creator of the ‘Enchanted Art Oracle Cards’, and offers private consultations at East West Bookshop. Her practice includes dream interpretation, tarot and oracle readings, and personal growth work focused on relationships, communication and authentic life path. Her background includes social psychology, spirituality, dreams, intuition, and consciousness. Mimi is also a monthly dream columnist for the New Spirit Journal
For more info on Mimi, or to book a consultation: www.thedreamdetective.com