Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes.”
- Walt Whitman
Would that Whitman's declaration was understood and appreciated by all. We would not be suffering from so much inner strife. So often, we humans work hard to be consistent, which translates into monotony or monochrome. How boring to have only one color. Imagine if all paintings were monochromatic and not multi-colored like an orchestra. Sometimes it is wonderful to hear one instrument alone, but all together an orchestra playing a symphony has grandeur, nuances, sophistication, complexity, and richness that is unparalleled.
We human beings are similar. Think of yourself as made up of many selves—your inner characters. If all of your different selves were the same, we would have no difficulty deciding what to do, what to eat, to wear, to pursue, etc. Decisions would be easy since there would be no opposing ideas or desires. There would be no conflicts from one character wanting to push ahead and another wanting to rest. It would be easy, but wow, how boring, lacking the heterogenity that creates a rich, textured, and lively internal diversity.
The problem comes not from having many characters inside, but from not knowing how to get them to harmonize. When one character shames or blames another, it is similar to what happens between people. Let's use internal self-blame as an example. The self-blamer is pretty abusive internally. It might say something like, “You are a wimp. If you had been more courageous, they might have listened. But you wimped out. You're always going to be a loser. They're never going to listen to us.”
Any internal character hearing those words would have a hard time staying centered and in a thrive state. Let's play it a few different ways that reflect a very meager angel voice to a strong one:
Option 1, Internal Angel Character (a newbie, just coming onto the internal scene): “You're right. I'm sorry I screwed it up so badly. I'll do it better the next time.”
Option 2, Internal Angel Character (a toddler, moving in a positive direction): “That's not fair and it's mean too. I don't want to listen to you. You don't know everything. I'm trying my hardest. Now back off.”
Option 3, Internal Angel Character (practiced and getting stronger each day): “Wait a second. I didn't do so badly. Yes, I could have done better, but at least I said something. That's better than nothing and certainly better than before.”
Option 4, Internal Angel Character (advanced and aware that the self-critic inside is actually trying to help, albeit misdirected): “Hey, I know you mean well. You only want me to do better. You're trying to protect me from having others criticize me. But I don't have to be perfect. And I certainly know that your criticism doesn't get me to want to do more or better. Let's work together. I want your help, just in a different way.”
When you get to the stage of Round Table Work™ where you feel as if all your characters are valuable and play an important role, although many are quite difficult, it is then that you can start creating harmony. When you start appreciating what each character is attempting to do for you, that's when the music starts.
Diversity is the magic. It is the first manifestation, the first beginning of the differentiation of a thing and of simple identity. The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.”
- Thomas Berry