The Barbie Movie and ‘parts work’

Welcome to your Monday Motivation post.

In the Embodied Wellbeing newsletter, there’s more on how Weird Barbie can inspire us around neurodivergence and trauma recovery

And yesterdays’ Personal Peace newsletter has journal prompts (and for Extra Embodied subscribers, an oracle card reading and Yoga Nidra) to help you embrace your own weird.

Exploring different aspects of yourself, your shadow and your future

In psychosynthesis terms, the Barbie Movie dipped into many many different subpersonalities – parts – of Barbie.

From President to Doctor, there were hundreds of Barbies.

Stereotypical (or Archetypal) Barbie herself was simply one of many and yet the film showed her journey towards self-actualisation.

Overcoming her initial repulsion at the changes she was undergoing and then embracing her whole self and choosing to become even more real.

While I still wish there’d be a more equitable resolution in Barbieland, the way the film ended for Stereotypical (or Archetypal) Barbie was wonderful.

What are subpersonalities?

Subpersonalities are simply parts of ourselves that co-exist within ourselves.

Like Psychosynthesis’ originator, Assagioli, Jung (credited with creating archetypes work and shadow work) had worked with Freud.

Jung’s talk of containing multitudes was revolutionary as it owned the RICHNESS of human experience instead of pathologising the parts we don’t like.

Assagioli helped people recognise that by befriending all our subpersonalities and attending to the needs and wants behind them, they were less likely to ‘act out’ and we would be less likely to self-sabotage.

For example, an Anxious Subpersonality, if ignored, will scream louder and louder until panic attacks make life feel impossible

But by attending to it and getting to know it, comfort zones can be expanded. Supports can be put in place. Compassion can be amped up.

Life feels freer AND more expansive.

Getting to know our subpersonalities is about (in psychosynthesis terms) ‘identifying’ (REALLY getting to know them and owning all aspects of them) and them ‘disidentifying’ with them (letting go! No longer being run by them. Remembering that we are so much MORE that any part of ourselves).

There’s not an exact crossover between the Barbie Movie and subpersonality work (sometimes known as ‘parts’ work) but you might want to try this:

  • list the parts (or subpersonalities) you’re conscious of right now. Maybe mother / father / parent / child / daughter / son / sibling / [health condition] / [job title] / artist / musician / climber / lover / confident part / persistent part / anxious part / adhd part etc etc etc
  • notice how it feels to recognise that you can have a shy part AND a confident part. A brave part and a fearful part etc etc. Own it ALL.
  • choose ONE to work with (you can repeat it with as many others as you choose. When I started this work in 2008, I listed SIXTY subpersonalities and completely overwhelmed myself with the intention of integrating ALL of them. Most people start with maybe 5, choosing one at a time)
  • give this subpersonality a name. It might be Anxious Part, it might be Mildred (asking clients if they want to call whatever part they’re choosing to work with Mildred often motivates them to find a name that resonates more for them and that part. The point is to befried it – to get curious about it and find out what it needs and wants. Having a name for it helps remind you you’re MORE that that part and can help discover more about it
  • Spend some time getting to know it – you might journal (especially with your non-dominant hand) but you might also draw it or think of clothes it might wear, where it might live
  • EMBODY it – imagine yourself AS this part and notice how your posture changes. Do you want to stand tall? Shrink? Contort yourself? Slump? Stretch? How does this part of you move through life? (am thinking of Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce!)
  • Ask the part you’re working with what it needs from you. How might you support it better? How is it trying to HELP you?
  • HONOUR THE INFORMATION and your whole self…

What are you going to do differently now?

Let me know in the comments.

with love,

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