I am used to parts language and, with someone I assume will understand, I sometimes say what I am curious about and notice in myself.
Most of the time, they understand since I know them and they know me and we both have a shared curiosity and language about this.
And sometimes, it’s misunderstood.
HOW I SEE IT
I notice that a part of me feels or perceives a situation a certain way. I know this inevitably colors my perception, feelings, thoughts, and life, even if it’s only to a very small degree. I also know that we all have everything in us. We have everything we see in others and in the whole world in ourselves. Even if I love someone deeply and wholeheartedly, there is also a (small) part of me who dislikes or even hates that person. It’s all normal and we all have this in us.
So when I notice something in me, and it seems the right situation to mention it – to a friend, or my partner, or a therapist, I may mention it since I am curious about it, find it fascinating, and want to be authentic and transparent.
HOW IT CAN BE PERCEIVED
If people are not familiar with parts language, they may misunderstand in several ways.
They may assume that what I say is how I – as a whole – see and feel and perceive it.
If they do, they may take it personally and feel hurt, offended, and get upset.
They may also take it as something big and dramatic instead of something very small, and blow it out of proportion.
They may assume it’s something persistent instead of fleeting and assume it’s something that has been brewing for a long time and I haven’t said anything about it.
They may see it as very unusual, weird, and pathological instead of something we all have in us.
They may also think I mean something hidden by saying it, that it’s some kind of code, and try to figure out what that is, instead of seeing it as an innocent and natural curiosity and noticing.
What is the remedy?
The obvious one is to be more discerning. I am usually quite discerning, but I sometimes assume – or hope – that the other person will understand, and it turns out they don’t.
Even people who have been into spirituality for a long time, or who are trained therapists, are sometimes not familiar with this way of exploring and talking about it.
Another is to frame it and then put it in the frame. Before sharing what I notice, I may preface it by saying that this is something I notice in myself, it’s not big at all, it doesn’t mean anything, and I am curious about it and want to share it.
And, if it happens, to talk about it. If these misunderstandings happen, I can explain. Although I have experienced that this is too late and they have already made up their mind and reacted to it. It’s better to do it upfront.
One thought to “When curiosity and parts language is misunderstood”
All good points. Only last week this happened with a client, and I had to scramble to help them understand what I meant…