08/10/2017 by Kori Burkholder
How To Face and Embrace Your Dark Parts to Break Free
We are complex human beings with many parts of ourselves. Some we accept while others we alienate and bury deep down into the crevices of our soul because we think it’s better that way. We put up a front so people won’t see our darker parts, the anger, resentment, fear, lust, bitchiness, etc. or our so called "weaknesses". Denying our dark, hidden parts can create chaos and disharmony.
I’m always intrigued by the two "opposing" sides of self, light, and dark. For example, I spent many years torn between staying safe in my cush job and wanting to quit and start my own business. I looked at one part as good, Safe Kori, and the other as evil, Risk-Taking Kori. They both felt very compartmentalized.
When attempting to silence or ignore parts of self, they can often get louder and even stronger, more forceful. Sometimes, it can even appear in challenging people, patterns, and circumstances, even in physical form as stress, anxiety, depression, or sickness. In my case, in the last year at this particular job, I was experiencing heart palpitations and couldn’t understand why because I didn’t feel stressed or anxious, I just felt numb.
Find Out Who’s In the Driver’s Seat
I realized that the Part that had been in the driver’s seat for the last nine years was Safe Kori. She made sure everything stayed even keel in her career and her home life. She loved making a nice and steady living, building up her 401K, saving money, and enjoying her paid time off. She didn’t want to entertain the idea of losing it as she feared we’d fall flat on our face, wither away and die on the streets of New York City. So she kept us safe, even if it meant dreading Monday through Friday.
Dialogue and Meditate With the Alienated Part
Learning to dialogue with these alienated self parts helps diminish its power and become our ally. So I use a methodology for myself and my clients to go deep into Parts of self, which is the key to our liberation. In my case, I wanted to connect with the alienated part, Risk-Taker Kori, so I went into mediation, and she told me the following:
"I’m sick of living in this shoebox. Why have you sentenced me here? It’s dark, and I’m suffocating. We’re wasting time, and we’re uninspired; we’re disconnected. We’ve done riskier things, and we’ve prevailed, we’ve won. Trust me. I am asking you to trust me again.
The meditation was enlightening. At first, she was pissed at feeling like a prisoner. She was living in the pit of my stomach, wearing a white nightgown with a pair of scissors in her hand. She was pacing back and forth barefoot, with wiry blond hair, mascara streaming down her face as if she’d been crying. She resembled a psych patient. But, as I shined the light on her and gave her time to be seen and heard, she became lighter, excited, and thankful that she got to say what she needed to say.
It’s shining the light on the problematic or alienated aspects that allow us to understand, grow and evolve into our best selves. This is the start of the healing process. When we can connect with it and give it space to say what it needs to say, it lightens the burden, and we can physically breathe easier. As we gather more and more information, we can become more empathetic to ourselves as we begin to understand the pain and suffering, and we can start to unify the Parts.
How To Do Parts Work on Yourself To Break Free
Find a quiet, private spot where you won’t be interrupted and have a journal close by to take some notes afterward:
- Choose the target Part – in my case. I wanted to get to know Risk-Taker Kori
- Close your eyes and connect with your breath
- Notice any concerned Parts (Safe Kori) to kindly step back as you narrow in on your Target Part.
- Begin to notice where this part lives in your body (pit of my stomach)
- What does it feel like? (facing back and forth)
- How heavy/light is she, in pounds, what shape/form is she, what color?
- Do you notice anything else about this Part? (white gown, psyche patient)
Now, Ask this Part:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- What are you afraid would happen if you didn’t do your job?
- What else do you want [your name] to know about you?
- Do you like your job?
- What would you instead do?
- Ask this part if there is anything else she’d like to share
- Once you both feel complete, thank Parts for completing the process.
After exploring one part (Risk-Taker Kori), go through the same process with the opposing part (Safe Kori) to begin to bridge the gap between them. How can they understand each other? How can they work together for the greater good?
Integrating Light and Dark Parts
Parts work aims to accept and integrate the darker, more hidden parts of self into your daily life. Carl Jung once wrote of the shadow, "Confronting a person with his shadow shows him his light. Once one has experienced what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites a few times, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle."
This process is by no means an overnight solution. I explored these two sides of myself for a year before taking the leap from employee to business owner. I had been working with my own Parts coach, doing meditation, healing mantras, chanting, journaling from each Part’s perspective and through my artwork (seen below). It was my unique journey towards self-love, as yours will also be empowering and amazing.
Do you have opposing parts? Which one has been in control and has been suppressed, buried, ignored, and hidden in a shoebox?
If you’d like to explore your Parts, don't hesitate to contact me to learn more about the process or book a private session.