Something that I hear all the time in counseling sessions is, “I feel like there are two different versions of me. One is strong and confident and does the right thing, and the other one is weak/selfish/insecure/mean and makes terrible decisions.” None of these clients are diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder and all are fully aware of their own thoughts and actions, so how can it be that so many people feel that they have no control over half of their personality?
We all have aspects of our personalities that we dislike or wish we could change, such as being selfish, shy, insecure, dependent, or impatient. These traits tend to have a negative impact on our personal happiness or our satisfaction in other areas of our lives, such as relationships or careers. They often manifest in a cluster of feelings and behaviors, such as shy-insecure-jealous, selfish-impatient-irritable, or dependent-needy-controlling. People get so frustrated and disappointed with these negative traits that they often develop an antagonistic relationship with that part of their personality, which is evidenced by statements such as “I hate how needy and pathetic I sound when I ask my husband to compliment me” or “I know I sound so rude and mean, and I can’t stand it because I don’t mean to act like that.” However, the more we turn against that part of ourselves and judge, censure, or punish ourselves for feeling/acting that way, the lower our self-esteem becomes and the more difficult it becomes to understand and change those traits. We reject these traits in an attempt to separate our “good” selves from them, but this just creates division and discord within our feelings and actions.