Who do YOU think is doing the talking?

“Remember that we’re going on the family vacation next week” my partner says. “We’re taking two cars and we will be leaving at different times because some of us have to work on Thursday”, he continues. “What time do you want to get going? In the afternoon or in the evening. It is a 2,5-hour drive.” I start to feel uncomfortable. Of course I remember, I think to myself. A stream of thoughts is now triggered. It’s been on my mind for quite a while. Am I going on this four-day trip? Or am I going to say I prefer to stay home alone? I have so much work to do and I could do with some time for myself. If I stay at home, they will think I am a spoil sport and might not like me for it. But if I don’t go, I will be missing out on connecting, especially to the little ones. I don’t see much of them . . . aggh what should I do?!."

Do you recognize dilemmas and inner conversations like these from you own life?

It happens to most of us and often these inner dialogues help us to solve problems. But they can also put us down, hold us hostage and stand in the way of our development, creativity, and intimacy. Either we might not make a choice or make a choice ending up frustrated. Or we might procrastinate or not take action at all. We might even find ourselves repeating the same ineffective behavioural patterns over and over again . . .

The quality of your interpersonal relationships is influenced by the quality of the relationship between your inner parts

Your behaviour is about what you do and how you do it, how you act towards certain stimuli, how you talk to or conduct yourself (intrapersonal) or relate to others in any situation (interpersonal). While this behaviour is often obvious - such as slamming a fist on the table - sometimes it is barely visible to others or even yourself, for example whether you are breathing fast or slowly, tightening your jaw, or experiencing a positive or negative internal dialogue.

‘Functionally Fluent’ behaviour refers to connections flowing smoothly. This works on two levels: 

  • Between you and others (interpersonal): your behaviour helps the communication between you and others flow seamlessly, making you capable of connecting effectively. 
  • Within yourself (intrapersonal): in order to connect with others, you must first connect with yourself. This is easier when you have a high level of self-awareness, when your thoughts, feelings, and actions are in sync, and you are able to self-regulate.

While this may seem simple, often these aspects do not align easily, like the example above. Sometimes it can be impossible to align and regulate your inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions, causing your behaviour to stop being fluent and your connection with others to become more difficult. The quality of your interpersonal relationships is very often influenced by the quality of the relationship between your inner parts. In most challenging situations your inner dialogue can become an obstacle to achieving the things that are important to you. 

Our inner thoughts, feelings and emotions are often connected to our inner parts 

Most of us have various inner parts. This does not mean that you have different selves, rather that you are human. We are not talking about multiple personalities here, rather a “sum of one unified whole”.

If you were to consider your inner parts as actors on a stage, playing out your inner theatre, who would you guess is playing the lead role? Which of the actors are being pushed to the edge of the stage? Who is the bully? Who is the rebellion? Who is the exile? Who is the manager? Who is the firefighter? What is the relationship between the actors? Who’s teaming up with who? Who is being rejected?
How the actors on your stage relate to each other and interact determines how you show up in the world and how you relate to and interact with others both personally and professionally. Therefore, it is worth reflecting on our inner parts.

People in leadership positions, for example, often have a solid go-getter in them, combined with a pleaser, a perfectionist, and an unflinching inner critic. The go-getter, the perfectionist and the inner critic like to work together - and those who are not careful can then fall victim to the boundless slavery these three are capable of. The role of the critic is the sharpest: constantly monitoring whether you are living by the laws of your inner parts that are playing the leading roles. And comments if the go-getters in you doesn't get their lists cleared, or if the perfectionist doesn't know enough.

And which inner parts have been pushed away? Maybe the bon vivant, the part that allows us to slow down and enjoy life - much to the anger of the go-getter and perfectionist. Or the playful child who brings carefree, uninhibited fun. Or maybe the vulnerable child who is afraid of things the go-getter in us doesn't know about. It is easily hurt and lives in constant fear of being abandoned, but also allows us to be really close to someone and love others.

Differences and conflicts in “agendas” between inner parts are usually responsible for ineffective behaviour

Often when we are in conflict it’s hard to make a decision without feeling we are settling in some way. Inner conflict often makes us doubt ourselves and makes us feel sluggish. It occurs when our emotions, thoughts and personal values are out of alignment. Or, looking at it another way: when our head, heart and gut are misaligned.

There are many different types of inner conflict. You may feel you were destined for greater things but the job security you have keeps you playing small. You may know you need to end a relationship, but you keep talking yourself out of it. You may know you need to start saving but you love the thrill of sharing what you have. You may know you need to finish writing your certification exam but there are always so many other ‘important’ things that need to be done first. Whatever the inner conflict is, it could be holding you back from a happy, healthy life.

Working with your inner parts unleashes power

Working with your inner parts allows you to uncover the most beautiful elements of yourself, that often have been buried. When unleashed, you access a newfound ability to shine, connect and relate- to self, others, and the world.

Would you like to find out more about your inner parts? Then join the webinar “Functional Fluency and Inner parts” on 18th November 2022 at 13:00 - 15:00 CET. During this interactive webinar Stefan Graebe will guide us on a journey to explore the effectiveness of our internal relationships, offering some landmarks to navigate this journey inwards and some ideas how to share this exploration with others.

To find out more and sign up click on the button below.

Yes, I want to sign up!

Remember, if you are already a member of the Functional Fluency network, you are entitled to enjoy two free online events per year. If you would like to find out more about our memberships please click HERE

This blog is written by Leona Bishop, inspired through a conversation she had with Stefan Graebe and articles she has read about Voice Dialogue. The explanation about Functionally Fluent behaviour has been drawn from an article written by Lieuwe Koopmans.

Download our Starter Pack: