“Nothing is so lonely as being apart from ourselves.”
Everyone’s personality is a collection of parts, parts formed and shaped by the many roles we play in ‘The Act of Living’ (Tallis, 2021).
And this variety is a good thing, human evolution has only been possible thanks to our incredible capacity to shape shift. Developing an assortment or personality parts to handle the many frames we exist through is yet another example of the adaptations we make in order to survive and thrive.
Exactly how many parts is a matter of debate, Freud’s famous theories referenced three whilst others estimate up to as many as 50-150 personality parts, of which 5-15 are in regular use, whilst others wait in the wings.
Numbers aside, we all know this to be true at some level, we even speak in these terms… ‘part of me wants X but another part wants Y’ or ‘I need to pull myself (my parts) together’. Words used to communicate some form of inner conflict or separation.
One of the common principles across the many forms of therapy is that an integrated personality is representative of good health. To have all parts in harmony with each other, willingly switching in and out as needed, outside of conscious awareness. When our parts can happily coexist, we can feel a sense of wholeness, a comforting completeness.
So, what does this have to do with loneliness? For the most part, loneliness is associated with a lack of social contact, the human connection so vital to a healthy existence. But separation can happen within us too, parts of our personalities can become disconnected from the whole. Often parts become shut off because the things they cause us to feel or do are no longer welcome or appropriate.
“When we are apart from our parts, we feel a sense of unease, we feel fragmented”.
The problem is that whilst we can become skilled at ignoring and suppressing our unwelcome parts, they don’t go away but instead remain part of us. When a part is exiled in this way, it can no longer grow and evolve in the way it needs, it becomes frozen in time (Schwartz, 2021). And an isolated and lonely part can manifest all kinds of unhelpful ways in an effort to get noticed, attempts to be reaccepted. The more ignored it feels, the harder it will try. Efforts that often present in the therapy room in the form of anxieties, obsessive behaviours, addictions and more besides.
Whilst the isolated part feels alone, the overall personality system also recognises that is it missing a part (or parts), because it is dis-integrated. As with all groups, it is strongest when all members can be present and play along.
Effective therapy can help people to reconnect with problematic parts of their personality so they can enjoy a sense of wholeness and inner harmony.
You can find out more about Tom’s work here: hypnotherapy-norwich.co.uk