Existential Psychology

Embrace The Parts Of Your Personality You Don’t Like

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We have have written about how all of the diagnosable mental disorders are really just normal behavior exaggerated. This is why burgeoning professionals who take diagnostics courses often secretly worry that they have each disorder while they are studying it. They see their own ‘normal’ behaviors embedded within the diagnostic criteria.

Along these lines, I realized that it can be useful to relate everyday problems in functioning to their diagnosable counterparts because we can see our own behaviors, and the reasons behind them, much more clearly when we exaggerate them. We can think of our behaviors as existing somewhere on a continuum, where they become the biggest problem at the extreme but can still cause distress at earlier stages.

In the context of this article, I want to compare dissociative identity disorder, commonly referred to as multiple personalities, with something all of us go through at times, which is dealing with aspects of our personalities that we don’t like. With DID, it has been theorized that one of the reasons the various distinct personalities form is that these alternate personalities represent parts of the person that feel tabu and therefore don’t get the chance to be expressed in daily life. ‘Cure’ is not choosing one of the personalities and suppressing the rest forever. It’s helping the person integrate all the personalities into a whole, so that each has a voice and therefore no longer feels the need to scream separately for attention.

If DID is the exaggerated behavior, what we all have in common at a less extreme stage on the continuum is the compartmentalization of the parts of our personalities that we don’t like, where we either suppress our awareness of these parts, minimize their impact on our lives, or just get down on ourselves for having them.

The ‘cure’ is to embrace the parts of your personality that you don’t like, to own them as part of but not fully defining who you are. This will probably allow you to express thoughts and emotions you consider to be tabu in a healthier way so that these parts of your personality cease to have the same power over you. Their intensity automatically diminishes when you accept them instead of trying to push them away.