Carl Jung put forward his theory that we all have both a true self – the person we are and are born to be … and we all have an external self – a persona – the one that faces the world.
I think we can all relate to this – we can all think of behaving in slightly different ways dependant on who we are with nd the situations we find ourselves in. I call it wearing different hats.
The aim is to have a healthy relationship with your external persona – for it to be flexible rather than rigid and to not define who you are and replace or totally mask that inner or true self. In return you allow your true self, and it attributes to shine through – this Jung stated led to a happy , holistic and harmonious relationship with both self and our world.
When I talk to clients as well as using my beloved hats as a descriptor and talking about how you can take them off and swap them around finding ones that really fit you … I also talk about how we develop different characters that help us move through life. Jung of course had his own characters his archetypes which I work with, but I like to make characters relatable to my clients so often take a bit of a different path to start with.
Meet Ruby – Ruby is one of mine … she is an external persona who I go to when I need to feel super confident. Ruby is my character that comes out when I go on stage and speak to audiences or run workshops , groups or meetings. Ruby owns her space, she is quite sassy – leopard print , fitted dresses and bright lipstick. She knows her stuff and doesn’t worry about answering tough questions. Interestingly Ruby is also my alternate name at Starbucks – very quickly I digress … I went to Seattle with work quite a few years ago and they just introduced asking for your name. over in Seattle just two days in I was greeted by my first name in a busy central hub and asked if I wanted my usual – it was delightful… I returned to the UK where we don’t always quite get that kind of CS… I had been going to the same SB for over 10 years, ordering pretty much the same drink … they started asking my name , I started giving it , every day they asked and every day they asked what I wanted … never did I get that lovely feeling … until one day I decided to give a totally different name … Ruby … and you know what – the barista who served me every day – didn’t even blink … well there you go ! …anyway, that’s Ruby 😊
Then I have Floss – Floss is my happy place – she is my Glastonbury persona – she wears yoga gear and bright coloured loose clothing – jeans with tunic tops and scarfs – or as my husband says – all the clothes at once . She has crystals around her, and nothing phases her – she sees the good in all things.
In a place of sharing, I also have Charlie – Charlie is dark… she was created during a really tough time. She is quite gothic in appearance; she takes no prisoners and has a lot or emotional armour. Thankfully Charlie doesn’t really make an appearance often now – her work is done but I understand that she will always be with me and she served a purpose in order for me to move forward.
And so – on – we all have different persona’s – the trick is to understand when they come out and how they best serve you. The key is to ensure that you understand who your true person is, and that each external persona has a little of that come through. Sometimes we hide our true self because we are afraid of letting it shine , we must be someone else for other people, sometimes we lack confidence in who we truly are, sometimes there is shame and guilt involved based on experience or trauma.
Working with persona’s and using Jung’s therapy techniques is a wonderful way of allowing clients to explore the different parts of themselves and how this creates their overall relationship both with self and the world they inhabit.
More on this in blogs to come but in the meantime have a think about the persona’s you have and where they come from – what names would they have? how would they look? and what purpose do they serve ?
Next Blog – What Happens When We Become Defined by Our External Persona…