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Newsletter 18

                              17th January 2015

Extremists Within

I grew up in the long shadow of the Second World War and, like many of my generation, was repelled by the ideological extremism of the Nazi's and their fascist allies. At grammar school I rebelled against the autocratic and hierarchical regime imposed by a very conservative headmaster. I reveled in his obvious discomfort as the socialist government mandated that the school become comprehensive and admit equally pupils of all abilities. I started a satirical school magazine which poked fun at the "old guard, reactionary" teachers and lampooned the traditional values they held dear.


1968 was the year of student revolution and while at university I joined demonstrations for workers rights and against police "brutality". I even had a copy of Mao Zedong's Little Red Book proudly displayed on my bookshelf. As a gay man, my liberal values were especially dear to me. Homosexuality had finally been decriminalized in the UK in 1967 and there was a sense that society was finally moving out of the dark ages and into a more tolerant era. 


I remember well the moment I began to question my naively youthful optimism. In my mid-twenties I was working in London teaching English to foreign students. I had rented a room in a house along with four others. One evening a number of people gathered in our shared living room. As I prepared my dinner in the adjacent kitchen I couldn't help overhearing their conversation, which was loud and animated. They were discussing politics, the overthrow of the government, the annihilation of capitalism and the appropriate "punishments" that would be meted out to the ruling elites. It turned out that the house was the meeting place for the south London cell of the International Marxist Group.


I wasn't so much shocked at the content of what they were saying as the vitriolic tone with which they were speaking. It had the same self-righteous fever that I associated with right wing ideologues. The words were different but the energy was the same.


It wasn't until many years later that I understood in a very personal way how over-identification with any ideology, system or way of being means that whatever is opposite gets buried in the psyche and vehemently judged when it appears in the external environment.


In a Voice Dialogue session I had spoken to the part of me that would aggressively fight for gay rights, and have no tolerance for intolerance! Separating from this part and moving back to the centre I felt  the stirring of a very different energy on the other side. Moving over, and to my greasurprise, I met my disowned inner Homophobe!! I felt like my maternal grandmother - a sexually conservative, Edwardian lady, very upright, principled and respectable. From my mouth came an expression of outright disgust at the very notion that two men could have sexual feeling for each other, let alone act on them. It was "against nature" and an "abomination"!


I got it. The more deeply buried and unconscious the disowned material is, the more extreme the polarization and the more highly charged the expression of what is "right".  Only when we embrace the extremes within us - e.g. conservative and liberal, gay and homophobic - will we be able to have a more conscious and therefore a more balanced approach to what life brings us.


Hal Stone writes about this with a personal example in his article The Gifts of Judgments. In What Type Are You? Alice Morgan Simmonds looks at how combining the Enneagram with Voice Dialogue can be a powerful tool for understanding and balancing opposing parts of our personality.


Now more than ever it seems essential that we look within to find the source of the extremism in our world.




To read previous newsletters click here.

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The Gift of Judgments
 - by Dr Hal Stone


It is difficult today to deal with so many people who come from extremist viewpoints from the right as well as the left. It is easy to hate them, to judge them, to abhor them and if you listen to peoples' daydreams to even kill them or injure them. I don't have a problem when I have a judgment because I have learned over the years that anyone I may hate or judge with a passion is one of my own disowned selves. My judgments have become one of my most profound teachers. If you hate conservatives and serious right wing people then there lives in you a conservative/right wing viewpoint. The reality is that conservative and liberal viewpoints live in all of us but one is generally primary and one is disowned.

Many years ago I was someone who held these judgments based on my own liberal, left wing primary self systems. As Sidra and I began to work with our opposites on these issues, Sidra facilitated my left wing/liberal anti-conservative primary self system and I began to separate from it. We don't judge energy but we do learn to divorce selves to which we are married. We don't bury these primary selves nor do we diminish them. They have a chance to speak but soon we discover that they are Selves and that they are only one part of us. This is what the development of of the Aware Ego Process is all about. 

After a number of sessions of this kind, ultimately she asked to talk to my own Inner Conservative. Because I had gotten the psychological divorce first I was open to it and for the first time I allowed myself to experience this inner conservative part of myself and I can tell you that it had a good deal to say. I had really buried these feelings. 

One evening a week or two after this work that we did I was at a movie theater where there were a multitude of newspapers of all kinds. One of them caught my attention and it was really a smut sheet and suddenly I felt the anger and rage of my conservative and his upset and concern that my children and step daughters might well be poisoned by this. At that moment I became conscious of these two opposites. The were both real. I didn't just think them but I also felt them deep in my gut. On the one side was the long standing voice of the liberal side, the understanding side, the need to let people be and do what they needed to do. On the other side, newly discovered, was a very conservative person who wanted limits set to this abuse of common decency.

And so who is right and who is wrong? There is no right and wrong. This is dualistic thinking. By feeling both sides I am in a much better position to create change because I am no longer polarized by either or. This is the essence of the development of The Aware Ego Process. Our culture is so filled with judgments that it is oftentimes very funny. We get into a rage or a negative passion because someone has gotten into a rage or a negative passion and we are not aware that we are bathing in Lake Righteousness. Whether from the left or the right, bathing in this lake solves nothing and never will. It takes courage to stand between oppositional selves. It takes real courage to stop and see and heal and feel the enormous power of our own dark natures. It takes real courage to feel the feelings of the people "on the other side."

One of my favorite quotes of C.G. Jung went as follows: "The Unconscious is Unconscious." (It is best spoken with a German or Swiss accent). Really and truly I have lived for so many years that I no longer really know if Jung said this or not. If not, then it sounds like him and it is his kind of message. I would change it to say: "The Unconscious is Unconscious is Unconscious to the tenth power". 

Many spiritual people try to kill judgment because they feel that judgments are bad. By doing this you lose one of the most potent avenues available to you in developing an ongoing consciousness process. If we pay attention to our dreams then we will learn that the dream ego generally gives us a picture of our primary selves in action. If you pay attention to your daydreams you will find the daydream "you" to be your disowned selves in action. Try just stopping and listening to your daydreams, for here we have a giant storage unit of the unconscious activity and feeling and action that is grounded in our disowned self system.

The challenge we all face together is to help the unconscious world of the psyche become conscious. This is the challenge we have all accepted at some level if you are playing in the playing field of Voice Dialogue. When you get Carl Jung depressed about the world or you get angry at bad things happening, just pause for a moment and find someone who is annoying you or depressing you and get some help figuring out what are the selves that are disowned in you that are activated by the behaviors of your brother or sister or aunt or step mother. What a gold mine of judgments we all live in. We just have to learn how to mine the gold. We need to do it together! We all need each other because the job is too big to do it alone. However, we can only do it together when we have dealt with the profoundly judgmental nature that belongs to each one of us. And please please please don't think for one moment that you are one of those mature spiritual human beings who doesn't have any judgments at all. I can only say to you that --"Ze unconscious iz unconscious iz unconscious"!!

To read more articles by Hal and Sidra Stone page click here.


What Type Are You?

- by Alice Morgan Simmonds, MS, MFT

Like all good consciousness junkies, I eat up questions like this for breakfast, so that I can learn more about myself and the people around me - why we are who we are and behave how we behave. I lived in Northern California for 22 years - a hot bed of consciousness work - and one day came across the Enneagram. Part of me liked it immediately. There are long inventory tests to take, you can read lots of books on the subject, and it's also fairly 'mainstream' and therefore easy to bring up in conversation. I soon found a class to attend - a women's group, where for nearly 2 years, sixteen of us met each week and studied the Enneagram with a skilled and experienced teacher.

The Enneagram warrants an in-depth study, but for the purposes of this article, the simplest way to explain it is that it's a system of 9 personality Types, each with their own habits of attention, styles, and strategies for coping and survival. These 9 Types are known commonly as: The Reformer, The Helper, The Achiever, The individualist, The Investigator, The Loyalist, The Enthusiast, The Challenger, The Peacemaker.

Having been involved with Voice Dialogue for over 26 years it's very hard for me to lock myself into a ' type'. But I did find that I was more like the type 9 than any of the others:  a seeker of peace and an avoider of conflict. It was fun to read all the literature on this type and I found it to be a very useful blueprint for the mapping of Primary and Disowned Selves.  It was useful to type other people too, giving a kind of shortcut insight into their primary mode of operation.

There are wonderful and thorough analyses of how the types emerge, and how they operate in relationships, work and life. Yet like many such systems, this analysis is directed primarily to our minds, so it is the intellect that interprets the teachings. We are taught and learn without the whole of us being engaged. Hence, in Voice Dialogue terms, there is virtually no Aware Ego Process involved. Most systems such as the Enneagram are like standing on the edge of a swimming pool as we analyze the water. Voice Dialogue encourages us to dive into the water - to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste it. It is the full immersion into the experience itself. You can imagine the difference!

So, as I would sit in my Enneagram class and each woman would express what it felt like to be her type, I would silently wish to have her move over - that actual physical switch we do in a Voice Dialogue facilitation - and inhabit her 'type' as a part of herself. Using Voice Dialogue with a type 3 for example (The Achiever) we might actually speak directly to her pushing, doing, or image seeking self, rather than just talk about it. She could then inhabit and experience the space of her Achiever, separate from this side of herself and have the opportunity to explore the waters on the opposite side  - her quiet child, her non doing aspects, her simple open presence. She could begin to experience the vulnerability that lives at the base of her type 3 coping strategy - perhaps a need for approval and protection. Or a Type 7 (The Enthusiast) could experience those playful, fun loving and distracted parts of herself and also be introduced to the connecting, calm and still selves within, which enable her to face and handle harder emotions issues in her life. A Type 1 (The Reformer) could know that this part of her is perfectionistic, critical and idealistic. She could then also meet and experience her spontaneous, light and playful parts on the other side.

Instead of this, however, it seemed to me that as we talked about our types we were often unconsciously reinforcing our identification with our Primary Self system, getting insight and awareness into those Primary Selves, but not actually finding much freedom and dynamic movement out of them. Just thinking about it and noticing it wasn't enough, and often we would all fall into a pattern of talking about our types and looking at each other just as stereo-types! There was truth there, but not vibrancy and life. It felt a bit imprisoning. My underlying desire to jump in that pool and get wet gnawed at me constantly. After a while, doing this kind of work became stagnant.

Recently, I took a class in London taught by senior Voice Dialogue facilitator and trainer J'aime Ono Pangaia where she introduced her marvelous group work method. I had the chance to be facilitated and my session illustrates how the Enneagram and Voice Dialogue can be used together.

According to the Enneagram, as a 'Type 9', some of my primary identifications are with peacekeeping, pleasing, merging with others and dropping my own agenda - all true! I avoid anger and conflict and prefer to not stand out, not to have strong needs. Of course, these are Primary Selves, and like any good Voice Dialogue practioner, I know that what is Disowned, seeps out all over the place - i.e. the parts of me that are self-seeking, individualistic, angry. My husband had died suddenly nine months before the class and I knew I needed help. I was drowning in grief, so some part of me volunteered to be the client for the group demonstration.

In this session I got to experience it all! First came forth a very powerful and angelic protective self that transcends everyday life. She had enabled me to handle the tragedy of losing my partner. She was there at the moment he died and helped me deal with the shock of experiencing his death. The Enneagram might refer to this as the Type 9's tendency to spiritual safety.

The next part that quickly arose was the part of me that merges with others and was very worried about taking time and space in the group for my own process.  A good old Type 9, she was anxious that I might have 'selfishly' prevented others from having the chance to be facilitated.  She was also concerned that I was too energetically depleted to be of help to other group members.

Each time I separated from a self I moved back to the Aware Ego space. As I did so, members of the class came and stood in for the part I had just met. They took on the attitude, values, beliefs and behaviors of that particular self in order to help me witness and deepen my awareness and understanding of it as a distinct part of me.

Experiencing and separating from my Type 9 selves, I was now able to let something new emerge. The anger that sits at the core of a Type 9 came forth, fully and safely in the container of the Voice Dialogue session. I felt fueled with the dynamic energy of the pain of the loss, the frustration and longing for this part of me to find expression, to have a voice and thus become a conscious ally in my new life without my husband. To say it was powerful for me is an understatement. It was transformative!

Having the Type 9 energies distinctly experienced and honored and then allowing the disowned part to speak was a beautiful and dynamic way to work with the Enneagram system. In this way, Voice Dialogue can be used to move our process forward, rather than fixate and cement it. I feel that the hesitation most people have when faced with typing systems comes from an inherent wisdom in us that knows we are not just one thing! I am many things and if I box myself in, I limit my potential and cut myself off from the truth of my essential human and divine nature.

Voice Dialogue can take all the marvelous insights from the system of the Ennagram and bring a juicy aliveness to the work of self-discovery!



A new book on the Enneagram that Alice recommends is:

"The Complete Enneagram", 27paths to Greater Self Knowledge

by Beatrice Chestnut


Check out the Enneagram Institute for a fun exploration.


Voice Dialogue Facilitator Training
Couple Talking


This training is for therapists, counsellors, coaches, health care practitioners and anyone working in the area of personal growth and development. It provides a comprehensive grounding in the theory and practice of Voice Dialogue, The Psychology of Selves and the Aware Ego Process. At the end of the training participants will have a powerful new tool that will complement their practice and enhance their ability to help clients achieve more balance in their lives.



The training includes 4 workshops spaced over 9 months (total 10 days). Each workshop will focus on the theory and practice of Voice Dialogue and its application to a range of client issues.


In addition, over the course of the training, participants will have a total of 6 personal 90-minute facilitations from the trainer (face to face or via skype), and will be expected to complete and document ongoing practice sessions with other members of the group.


Participants will receive a comprehensive self-study pack of readings, videos and exercises covering every aspect of the work.


Certificates of attendance are available for CPD.


Maximum group size 4 participants


Places are still available for the course beginning the weekend of 18th - 19th April 2015


For more information click here.



In This Issue
The Gift of Judgment
What Type Are You?
Facilitator Training

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How different parts of us inform and influence our daily lives.

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