To me the phrase “just pull yourself together” is naive and nonsensical, because if you think about it, who is pulling who back together? Who knows how you should be and who is the bit that has moved away? Additionally, who is the self you will be again once you have reconnected?
I realise this observation is a little pedantic, however, we use phrases like this daily as if we can just overcome our thoughts and emotions by deciding to ‘pull ourselves together.’
I, my and me
Some people are good listeners and some people are good analytical listeners, they afford the other person their ear and their time, as well as, intently examining how the other person is expressing themselves, for those who do this type of listening they soon realise that language and emotion overlap and can often go in differing directions at the same time, let me give you an example.
This is a common sentence I might hear each day in my therapy office – “John, I just don’t know what is happening, I feel out of control, I can’t stop MY mind from thinking, MY thoughts are endless and it is making ME anxious….”
Three differing perspectives in one sentence (I, my and me) well, which one are you and who are those three people anyway?
Loosely and metaphorically I see these 3 differing personas in the following ways;
Who is I?
I, seems to be the big picture me, when people say “I” they tend to take both hands and make a gently expansive gesture that moves out from the body, as if to indicate a space that is bigger than the actual body. I, seems to be the totality of who we are but is hard to pin down or understand, it may feel like it is outside of us or is etherial like our soul, spirit or just who we feel we are.
Who is my?
“My” seems to have both a mentation and an ownership aspect, and both seem to generate from the brain with a logical cause and effect type structure; “That was My idea, that is My dog, My heart was broken, My mind won’t stop racing”.
Therefore, it seems “My” is what the brain (or the mind) seems to be proposing to us (and others.) This feels flawed to me because if you can’t stop your mind from racing – basically we are saying I can’t stop my mind from thinking and therefore we are not the thinker of our thoughts we are the witness of them (or the I is the witness) can you see how this all begins to unfold?
I like to think of my mind as an organ (a brain) whose function is to think and propose thoughts, subsequently my brain (or thoughts) are no more ME than my spleen or any other organ. My mind just runs on autopilot all day (and dreams all night, interestingly I don’t see those thoughts as real!) proposing all these thoughts and conditions of ownership whilst assuming that it can figure everything out and berates itself if it can’t.
Who is me?
Then there is that part we might call “Me” – I consider this to be the body aspect of the being called John and it is the part that experiences emotions like, love, pain, stress, anxiety, aches etc. The body is a funny thing because most of the things that happen to it are out of our control even though it is who we feel we are! It just gets sick by itself, it just fixes itself, it grows our hair and digests our food and we have no idea (at all) how this happens. Therefore, the part that I most associate with (my body) I feel detached from and it has a bunch of emotions that may be pleasurable or horrible and we can’t seem to manage them.
So, we feel like a passenger in our own body, which has emotions that are out of our control, from thoughts that we don’t choose to have, and I (the whole me) doesn’t like it, yet has trouble controlling and directing it!
Need a little help knowing who you are?
So, we have all this is happening inside us before we add to the mix how you were raised, your values and beliefs and your innate personality type! In my role as a therapist and mentor I help you to see these perspectives and get a handle on how all these selves interact with each other and teach you logical and sensible ways to pull myself together.