Growing Up: Mourning The Lost Self
What happens to the lost part of ourselves? We remember ourselves being so different; happy, alive, brave, carefree, loving and generous. We seem so different to this now even though we know it's still us. Even those these parts of ourselves seem irretrievable, psychotherapy may be able to help.
The parts of us that got lost
It is so common to want to revive a part of ourselves that we feel we have lost. We felt we used to be so different and so much better; things were different – we knew different people and we did different things. Our major mistakes were still ahead of us; we were in the midst of our joy. Then something happened, and piece by piece as part of ourselves seem to slip away. Sometimes the circumstances of our lives changed – marriages, jobs, children, divorce – but the loss seems more than that as well.
Part of us changed and we don't understand why. This lost part of ourselves can be very saddening for us; it is hard to accept that there are parts of ourselves that seem no longer available to us, even though we know it is us.
Not lost – locked away
One of the understandings of Self Psychology is that rather than permanently and irretrievably lose parts of ourselves, we lock these sectors of ourselves away in a process called vertical splitting. This happens when these sectors were no longer responded to in the same positive way by the environment. These sectors are still maintained to some extent within us, but we gradually lost the ability to access these sectors of ourselves because we needed to lock them away from the damage that other people might innocently do to these precious parts of ourselves.
In their place, we started to build up other sectors of ourselves more acceptable to others – our professional selves, our responsible selves, our adult selves. This is how we evolve as people, but there is a cost.
Getting you back
By establishing a psychotherapeutic environment where these lost sectors of ourselves are acceptable and become responded to, then they have the possibility of gradually re-emerging and being re-integrated with our broader personality.
– Tim Hill
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