Beginning an Inner Dialogue with Alters
Posted On July 7, 2020
Living with dissociative identity disorder (DID), especially shortly after being diagnosed, can seem a living hell. The emotions, feelings, and memories all seem to belong to someone else because of a lack of communication among the alters.
Because of the chaos, beginning inner a dialogue with your alters may seem a very daunting task. At first, your alters may present themselves as resentful, angry, or mean. It is only through speaking to and forming a relationship with them do you stand a chance of ending the chaotic existence you may be experiencing right now.
We are going to explore together different steps and methods of opening the critical conversations that must take place to gain inner peace.
First, Remember Who Your Alters Are
I am bound to get some push back from some multiples on this next statement, but it needs to be said. The alters in your system (or whatever term you have given them) are all parts of the whole you. They are not separate people, nor are they invaders. They are all you.
I say that to begin this article because remembering the previous statement is true is key to overcoming the chaos of DID. You are not magical. They are you, and you are them.
When you speak of an alter as being angry and resentful, what you are honestly saying is that you are feeling bitter and resentful.
Understanding that the parts inside your psyche are not strangers who have invaded you makes it a little bit easier to open a dialogue with them. These parts of your psyche are children, teens, young adults, and even animals that need and deserve respect, dignity, and love.
The kicker is, only you can give that to them (you).
Forming a Safe Place
To get to know the parts of yourself who are all stuck in trauma-time better, it may be necessary to form a safe place in your mind. It can be a warm, sandy beach, a sunny flower-strewn meadow, or the top of a mountain. Whatever works for you and your system is what you need to choose.
There are several reasons for forming this safe place:
- It helps all your parts feel safe
- It allows a place to go when you feel overwhelmed
- It allows a place where you can hold conversations with each other
To offer an example, I will tell you about my safe place. It is a warm and sandy beach where there is a beach fire that will not burn anyone, and the ocean is gently waving on shore, but you cannot drown. There around the beach fire, I have had many conversations with my system and first met them. My safe place has been hugely instrumental in my healing.
Beginning a Discussion with Your Alters
It is vital to understand that words are mighty things. Words can build up and tear down. Words can affirm or destroy. Words are a potent force for good or for evil. Understanding these facts will help you to know what you should and should not say to your alters, who are all you.
To begin a discussion with inner parts, first, make sure you are safe. This type of dialogue may require you to be in the presence of a mental health professional, at least at first, until you feel more connected and grounded.
Remember this too. If an alter is a child, they should be treated as children. Do not talk about huge grown-up topics; instead, meet them where they are and allow yourself to feel their emotions. Always keep in mind that alters have the right to refuse to meet you in your safe place. But, even if they refuse, eventually they will come if you give them a reason to want to.
Things to Say in Your First Conversation
Once grounded, opening your talk with some simple questions asked inside your safe place of your alters. Questions can be as simple as “What’s your name?” or “How old are you?” Do not expect an answer right at first because you have most likely been afraid of your alters before this day; they may also be fearful of you.
Some other useful hints for starting an inner dialogue with alters are as follows:
Welcome Them. Make the first move and take an interest in the alter you are speaking with. Allow them to acclimate being with you and set them at ease as much as you can. You can also tell them how excited you are to be meeting your alters and show our enthusiasm and excitement.
Set Boundaries and Rules. One of the best things about starting an inner dialogue is that rules and boundaries can be set to assure that your life becomes more manageable. Rules such as no one in your system can overwhelm you with flashbacks in your safe place, and boundaries such as no cussing (or whatever you wish) are essential. Children need and love rules, and so do many adults, thus making some for your safe place makes perfect sense.
Use Their Name. Say their name often to establish that you are listening and validating what they are saying. Obviously, this hint only works if you know the alters name.
Offer to Help. Your inner parts are there because something horrid happened to you in childhood. They hold all the memories and secrets of what occurred and are in pain. If you offer your inner parts assistance, such as telling them that you are going to protect them now, they will grow in trust as time goes by.
Listen. By listening more than you speak, you will learn much from your alters. They will let you in on their hopes and dreams, which, of course, are what you wanted when you were their age.
Feel. Feel the emotions from needs that were not met in your childhood. It is okay to weep over what was torn from you in the past.
Enjoy Your Inner Selves
The parts of you that live in your mind are loveable and enjoyable if you give them half a chance. They are all delightful parts of you stuck in trauma-time that need to be loved and cared for so you can heal.
Even the members of your system who have caused you problems in the past or who act hostile are only acting out because they have unmet needs.
Self-parenting means giving to your inner selves the dignity, respect, and love that they deserve, and in the process, you will provide these vital human needs to yourself. It may be frightening at first, but with practice, you will find that you look forward to going to your safe place to meet the beautiful pieces that make up you.
“I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me, and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So, I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.”
~ C. JoyBell C.
“Dare to love yourself
as if you were a rainbow
with gold at both ends.”
~ Author-Poet Aberjhani,