Probably everyone knows one’s weaker self, or the inner perfectionist. You might also ask yourself why you always react like a child or a diva in certain situations, even if you don’t really want to? (We are not talking about the low sugar level, for which a chocolate bar can certainly help…) Someone in us jumps forward, takes the metaphorical wheel and has acted before we have consciously decided on a certain reaction. We can deal with these automatisms by engaging in a mental experiment: our Inner Team.
The foundation of working with the Inner Team is to listen carefully to oneself.
Each of our inner parts, whether the constant sceptic, the warrior, the accountant, the teenager, the career woman or the inner child, is given a voice, a name, and a shape. In this way I can analyse my behaviour more precisely and better understand between which inner positions and needs I am torn in a situation. Listening to and appreciating all inner voices is an important part of good mental hygiene, which should reduce inner tensions and ultimately serves self-empowerment.
Here, I will give you an example:
Someone asks me to drive her by car. She could also take the bicycle, but there is a threat of rain. I have a busy day ahead of me and „actually“ no time. So inside me the dutiful accountant, the mum, the weaker self, the governess and others are debating:
- Accountant: we can’t afford it; we have work to do! There are the deadlines and all the work…! No discussion.
- Mum: But the poor thing! Look at the weather, it’s inhuman to just leave her in the lurch!
- Interjection from the martyr: Otherwise, she won’t love me anymore, my work is unimportant, she is important, I can’t survive without her, we must drive her, do everything for her… (this voice is silenced as quickly as possible)
- Weaker Self: Oh, what a fuss… leave it, she can drive herself. Really, it’s okay.
- Governess: Normally the weakling and I rarely agree, but yes, she should drive herself, it’s important for her personal development! It is simply not acceptable that she thinks we are only there to be at her disposal!
- Warrior: Today our work is more important. She’s not in danger, at most she’ll get wet. Full stop.
- Me as the Team Leader: Well, so I can do my job and still do her an educative service. If she gets caught in a downpour after a few metres, I can always drive her. But first, to work.
My inner team was present here with different members, all were allowed to give their opinion. I put those in relation to each other and then decided on a course of action.
This was a simple situation in which this inner conversation did not take place consciously. But you can certainly imagine much more complicated situations, and team members who are more difficult to deal with, such as the critic who is all too familiar to many. Most of the time we are not aware of them, but they shape our every reaction.
If you know these inner parts, you can recognise their voices in difficult situations and behave more consciously. To get an overview of your inner team, you can visualize a meeting: an imaginary
team conference, council meeting or a jamboree.
It is essential that each team member is invited to share and join. Even the hitherto unknown parts are welcomed and get a seat at the table.
The key element is that as many of the inner voices as possible and necessary are given
- the space to show themselves and introduce themselves
- the chance to express their needs
- the opportunity to contribute their gifts and special skills
- the time to get in touch with antagonists and also with allies
If you do not already have a lot of experience with this form of self-exploration you should find an experienced companion to support you during this visualisation exercise. Having someone with you makes it easier, for example, to write down the names and messages so that the one visualising can remain entirely in their inner imagery. (For those who like metaphors with animals – or just like animals – I suggest the Inner Zoo!)
Sometimes, however, the inner parts of a person gradually emerge by themselves during the coaching process. At some point, these parts are given an appropriate name and their message crystallises over time. This can happen very casually and organically and can support the work immensely. It is so helpful to have a name for any moody part of yourself you are trying to deal with.
At every moment I am aware that I am only playfully extending a model here that can serve people to get to know themselves better and to live more consciously. Every team member is an inseparable part of you, which is sometimes more or less in the foreground and sometimes more or less determines your actions.
In an eternal dance you swing between the points of view, between identification and disidentification.
Some of the team members will be more familiar to you than others, and some are not welcome to you, triggering a vehement “That’s not me!” But the more unbiased you are about this idea, the more meaningful this work will be. Because we all have parts in us that we condemn or fear and therefore negate. (Another model works with the „shadow“, which is, so to speak, the sum of all unwelcome, unconscious parts.) If you simply ignore your inner battle-axe, or the pitiless predator, or the petty bourgeois, then they will cause discord within your team and threaten to determine your actions in stressful situations, rather than if you know them and ask about their message for you.
To stay with the example of the battle-axe, you can ask her what she has to tell you, and you might hear:
„At last, I’m being asked! You always listen to everyone, even the last idiot, but you only take care of our needs for rest and recovery when you get sick! You can’t be that stupid! Send others packing earlier and save a little of your compassion for yourself! Then you’ll finally take a break and a nap and stay healthy!“
Clearly, the battle-axe has only one goal: to protect you from overwork by scaring people away (or nagging them into doing their job) and remind you of the self-care you need. She may be an unpleasant team member, but she has come into being to provide you with a specific service. And that is a core principle of this model:
Each member of the Inner Team has a function.
From protection to time management, to maintaining social contacts, to self-defence, many functions are conceivable. We all have an inner team, have conflicting voices, more than the proverbial „two souls“ in our chest. This playful approach is a powerful tool for self-exploration, where you can make many discoveries, experience surprises, but also find peace. And if you are clear about your team members and their intentions or messages, you can also listen to yourself better: Take breaks, dare to take risks, seek certainties, or allow change without the battle-axe or critic (or anyone else) having to put you in undesirable situations first!
As a team leader, you can listen to them, and show them that you understand their motivations, and include them in your decisions to act.
And the more aware you are of your inner motivations, the more purposeful and relaxed you can go through life. Do you feel like getting involved with this model?
Heartfelt, wherever you are,