HM 04:  Who Is That? Part 1 of Our Different Selves


We all have different parts of ourselves that operate – the Professional Self, the Parent, the Partner, etc..  Dr. Liz shares her experience of what happened when she thought she would be “the best mom ever” and it didn’t exactly work out. And what do you do when one of your parts isn’t functioning well, like a mom who has a hard time accessing her sexual self because she lives in mom mode? And how does hypnosis help?

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Show Notes and Thoughts about Different Selves – Part 1

I just want to make a note here at the beginning that I actually made this into a two part series. I recorded the first part on different selves and there were so many questions when reviewing it with a friend that I actually went ahead and made a second part. So that’s coming next week. This week we talk about how two or more different selves function and some about dissociation but not really about dissociative disorders so much. In part 2, I talk about that more.

The speaker that I talk about during the podcast is Wendy Lemke and the topic was ego state therapy. Ego state just means these different parts of ourselves.

We all have these different parts:

  • The mom self or the dad self
  • The self that coaches Little League.
  • The professional self, the one that goes to work
  • If you like to cook, you have a chef self
  • You have the artist’s self that sings or draws or plays an instrument
  • You may have a really social self.
  • The sexual self that gets activated sometimes.
  • The wife or husband self

So we have all these different parts of ourselves. And normally they go along and they function really well. We just sort of move through them throughout our day. But sometimes they don’t function so well. One really extreme case of this, and the presenter was an expert on this one so I learned a lot about it that weekend) is called Dissociative Identity Disorder. In the past, this was called multiple personality disorder.

When it becomes a disorder is when there’s amnesia between the different parts of self that operate. So sometimes people will be at work and then all of a sudden they’ll find themselves somewhere else and they have no idea how they got there. This is not like, “oh I got in my car and I drove along and I was just sort of daydreaming and here I am at home.” It’s not that. It is really whole amnesia. I am going to say it’s it’s pretty rare.

There’s a whole range of this too. So often people will have a very high functioning professional self and then maybe this is happening as part of their personal life.  This is often very high functioning people. It’s similar to Borderline Personality Disorder. I see borderlines in my practice in Broward county / Fort Lauderdale and there’s a whole range of Borderline functioning.

If you Google this on the Internet you can read all of this awful stuff often written by loved ones of borderlines. There are some struggles around being a loved one of a borderline, but often you’ll get a high functioning borderline who’s a great mom and a great professional. And perhaps they struggle in their personal relationships and need support there. But they they are not self-harming all the time or acting out all the time. So again just want to say right here there’s a whole range with both of these disorders.

What happens when one part doesn’t function well?

But on this podcast, I talk about more of our “normal” parts of ourselves that function as we go along throughout the day. And then what happens when one of those selves doesn’t function as well or one of those selves needs some help?

To give a personal example, I left my professional career and I stayed home with my kids after I had them. I got severely depressed, severe postpartum depression and I’m now a specialist in prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety in Broward County. But at the time I certainly wasn’t. I wasn’t even actually working in psychology.

What happened is I lost this whole sense of self from being a professional. That was a wonderful part of myself. I got tons of feedback from people. I got to talk to people and feed some of that social part of myself. And then all of that disappeared when I stayed home with my kids. On top of that, it took a really long time for me to feel like I had a “good mom self.” So I was severely depressed.

Even for moms who do not get PMD, this takes years for them to develop. We really feel like, “oh we’re going to have a baby and will be a mom and everything will be great!” And that hardly ever happens. There is a transition there is growth. It takes you a while to get your feet under you. It takes you years sometimes to discover what kind of mom you are. Like no I’m not the mom who loves to sit down and play for hours with my kids. I’m really not. I’m not even a baby person, which I talk about in my book, “There Goes the Brainstem.” I absolutely love it when imagination sets in around two and a half or three.

Who is your Mom self?

So this is a growth process for most moms to discover “Who is your mom self?” Is she playful? Is she spontaneous? Does she need structure?

It’s not always about what your kids need. You try to figure that out and you try to match it with your own personality. In my private practice in Broward, Hollywood, Florida, we see how we can combine these two so that you’re both happy. And I think that’s a really important process.

Perhaps you need a boost to a certain self

So we have these different selves that function and perhaps someone needs a boost in a self that’s not functioning well. Or sometimes they get stuck in a self. So this is sort of like the person who goes to work and they never shift into home mode. They come home and they’re still in work mode. In my work doing couples counseling, couples will come in and talk about this.

Or let’s say you’re having an argument and one of the spouses says, “oh he’s talking to me like I’m his daughter!” He’s popped into dad mode and maybe he’s not even aware of it, but she’s picking up on it and she is saying, “that’s not cool. I am an equal here!” That’s a common example of what goes on in a marriage that can happen where someone is not really accessing the healthy self that they need to in that moment to relate to their partner or to relate to their kids or to be at home and not in work mode.

And I think our culture of cell phones and computers and constant email has not helped with this at all. There is no shift to home. The lines are really blurry there and often I will encourage clients to make that shift, to set some of those limits as much as they can with their jobs. To think, “right now I am with my kids and I’m having dinner and I’m with my wife or with my husband.”

How can hypnosis help with all of this

By helping you access these different parts of yourself that need a little boost, that need to come out. And let’s hear what they say. And when you’re talking about dissociative identity disorder, hypnosis can be truly powerful and helpful because sometimes they can can help that person access parts of herself that wouldn’t normally be there. And they can come out and talk and access selves that they don’t always have awareness of. So that’s one process.

But even with a more general population, someone who doesn’t necessarily have a disorder. Perhaps they’re coming in for depression or anxiety or something’s not functioning well in their life. Hypnosis can actually help you access and move into your normal self more easily.

The example that’s coming to mind are moms that so often lose their sexual self when they have a baby. The mom truly has no desire. We’re not talking about right after you have a baby. In that case, there’s all kinds of hormonal stuff that goes on and biological stuff that goes on where you know you need to give all your energy to that baby. A lot of it is related to your period and the return of menstruation often will bring back some sexual hormones.

hypnosis treatment browardAfter that time period, if someone is having difficulty accessing her sexual self, it’s using hypnosis to have that self be more comfortable for the person. To know it’s o.k. to have that sexual self be out and it’s OK to be a mom. All of these are ok parts of yourself. You don’t need to be ashamed of them or struggle with them. So that’s a little bit about how hypnosis can help that process.

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Yours in health,
Dr. Liz