We are multitude
We tend to think of what we call "I" as an unchanging and permanent concept. From this belief, we say "I am," "I never," "I always…"
But what does this tiny word we use to refer to ourselves actually mean?
This "I" that appears solid and is understood as a "whole and unique" piece, in reality, is more like small links all connected together, in constant movement.
I'm going to ask you to go back to your childhood and remember an object that you surely have held in your hands and spun around: a kaleidoscope. Remember? It was a circular image with a center that remained static and a surface composed of smaller colored pieces that acquired new shapes and colors with each movement we made on it. The "I" is similar to such an image. Unified in appearance, but in reality, it is composed of many pieces of different shapes.
The "I" is unified in appearance, but in reality, it is composed of many pieces of different shapes
I'll give you an example to clarify the concept.
Take the case of Sara:
Sara is in a work meeting, she appears serious and responsible, maintains a rather firm and convincing tone of voice, cordial and attentive. She leaves her job and meets her lifelong friends at a bar, laughing out loud, cracking jokes, and making confessions that reveal a relaxed and unprejudiced woman. On her way home, she sees a man on the street asking for help and shows great generosity by offering him a substantial alms and buying him dinner. A block later, she suddenly insults, becomes violent, and hits the car of someone who almost runs her over without realizing. She stops by her parents' house on her way back to hers and, talking to her dad, shows a childish tone, shrugs her shoulders, and asks her mom to make her a delicious snack. After a while, she arrives home, her small children run to hug her, they greet each other, and quickly she abandons "the child" and becomes "the super powerful woman," energetic and vital, who in a matter of minutes organizes her home and gives instructions. Her husband arrives and she immediately adopts a complaining, tense, tired, and critical attitude, unconsciously seeking recognition for her work.
The question is: Who is Sara?
The serious and responsible one? The fun and unprejudiced one? The generous and compassionate one? The violent and intolerant one? The childish and dependent one? The energetic and organized one? The complaining and tired one? Sara is all of them at once! Like in a kaleidoscope, each time there is a movement, a new version is shown with a new tone, a renewed image of oneself...
It's not a matter of gender, the same happens with men; Pablo at the stadium is not the same as Pablo at the office. Nor is he the same with his mother and then with his wife, the Pablo of a Monday is not the Pablo of a Friday...
Have you noticed this peculiarity in yourself and in others? What's happening here?
It happens that we humans have an original fear of the impermanent, the unknown, and, of course, death. This fear generates a compulsive need to label and conceptualize to make the unpredictable predictable, to simplify the complex, and to feel safe in a world full of uncertainties. This leads us to form an idea of an "I" that guarantees us an "identity": thus we say "I Am." But among all those versions or ways of being, who am I really? The answer is the following: I am all of them and at the same time none of them.
Who am I really? I am all of them and at the same time none of them
All versions? Yes
When we say "I," this seemingly single piece is composed of many smaller mosaics. Thus, it's more accurate to say: "a part of me is tender," "a part of me is fearful," "a part of me is daring," "a part of me gets angry," "a part of me is understanding," "a part of me is intolerant," "a part of me is fun," "a part of me is immature," "a part of me is too adult." Saying "I" while understanding this context is extremely imprecise because, in truth, we are a multitude!!!
None of them? Yes
Because in truth, these parts are on the surface of a much deeper center that we call ESSENCE. This Essence is what remains permanent in the impermanent. Continuing with the metaphor: it is the central axis of the kaleidoscope. It's the original music when all the other voices that make up the "I" fall silent. Meditation, self-observation, yoga, or simply the voluntary practice of silence help us connect with this "Eye of the Storm." Therapeutic work seeks to make contact with this part of oneself, the deepest and most authentic in each of us, and the most challenging part is "learning to live from there." This is the area of the Self (as Carl Jung speaks of) that "knows us." The one that gives us the answers that we sometimes don't like to hear and, therefore, we tend to drown out with the clamor of our intermingled personality. To stop fighting with all our parts and live from the authenticity of this center is the goal of any serious personal and emotionally committed work.
We need to stop fighting with all our parts and learn to live from the authenticity of our center
A Healthy Personality
A healthy personality is one that knows all its parts and each of them in depth and knows how to manage them. It's not about suppressing our pieces, nor about repressing the parts we don't like and highlighting those we do. It's more about "integrating": my fearful part with my fun part, my aggressive part with my understanding part, my relaxed part with my organized part. This is because no part is better than another nor has more right than the others to exist. For example, my aggressive part helps me get angry and set limits in a situation. A person who never gets angry is in serious trouble, as is someone who has no fear and recklessly exposes their life. A creative part also needs a practical part to ground the product of my imagination; otherwise, it will remain just a good idea, right?
The central core that I previously named "the Essence" is the one who Observes and manages all these parts that make up the great mosaic of our personality. The Essence is who gets them to dialogue and tries to find more lucid and increasingly conscious answers. If this "Observer" is absent or asleep, we wander through life as if "playing blind man's bluff."
If our "Observer" is absent or asleep, we wander through life as if "playing blind man's bluff."
This "Essential" Observer, like a symphony orchestra conductor with more than eighty musicians on stage, with great concentration and insight, makes each instrument sound at once, in its right "tempo" and space. The music that results will be from their ability to harmonize and integrate the parts that make up that whole. The greater the integration and communication between them, the healthier the personality will be.
And the Dysfunctional Personality?
It is the one that has become fixated on a "single part" of that more complex whole that makes up this intricate network. As if from that great orchestra, only the trumpet would sound. It would be a tiring, monotonous, boring, and annoying noise, and after a while, we would get up from the concert. This is how people behave who "only" know how to get angry, who "only" know how to be negative, who "only" know how to be a victim, who only know how to be "cautious", who "only" know how to criticize, and who "only" know how to laugh .
Health lies in mobility and flexibility, but not chaotic movement, rather integrated movement. Without ever losing contact and attunement with that Essential voice that guides us if there is someone willing to listen.
Recycling Our Parts
In the course of our lives, we are "called" to perform a personal reintegration. To look at each of our parts and "let go" of those that no longer serve us or hinder us and "let in" those that we need to grow and improve ourselves. A person who works on themselves will do it intentionally and willingly. Others, on the other hand, life "pushes" with a crisis that dismantles the given structure. When the pieces are scattered... a new figure of the SELF must be formed, selecting those pieces that are in line with the most harmonious and authentic portrait that we can create of ourselves.
Three possibilities open up here:
1- Those who with the same pieces reassemble the same figure as always. These people, once the crisis has passed, stay in the place they were, complaining about the same things as always, getting angry about the same issues as always, returning to prioritize what in the midst of the fire seemed insignificant. They are the people who "endure" but do not "mature."
2- Those who with the same pieces construct a version inferior to the previous one. What could have been a possibility for inner growth and change becomes an occasion for resentment and pain. This is the case of people who, in "enduring," deteriorate.
3- Those who "recycle" themselves into a superior figure, grow, and evolve. By their own will or by life's circumstances, they decide to learn, to let go of what no longer goes and must be left behind, and to take what is necessary and what must be renewed. They endeavor to reframe their experiences and work to expand their consciousness. They identify their prejudices, question their beliefs, and transcend their conditioning. This is the case of people who "mature" and, in enduring, become wiser.
These are the ones who manage to turn the kaleidoscope of their SELF by themselves, and in each movement, like a painter on their canvas playing with tones and colors, they beautify the most important work of their life: "Being the best version of themselves."