We’re complex beings.
Often times there isn’t one singular self that makes us who we are, but many multiple selves that are tugging away simultaneously.
Whichever “self” wins the tug of war is the one that gets to choose how we respond to any given situation.
Sometimes our “positive self” wins. Sometimes our “negative self” wins.
Have you ever looked back on an experience and thought, “That wasn’t really me!” or “I don’t know what came over me?”
Those are likely the times when your “negative self” has won. And thus you try to disassociate yourself from the experience, and not identify yourself with it.
This can be a healthy way to reflect on ourselves.
When we recognize our “multiple selves” we can observe our thoughts and behaviors without needing to fully attach to them.
No single “self” defines who you are – they are all just pieces to a much bigger puzzle.
Here’s an exercise I want you to try to help reflect on these “multiple selves” and how they influence you.
Positive Self vs. Negative Self
The goal of this exercise is to write out a short dialogue between your “positive self” and your “negative self.”
Here are simple steps to follow:
- Create a document called “Positive Self vs. Negative Self” on your computer.
- Identify one situation where you feel your “positive self” and “negative self” are currently in conflict. (For example: “eating healthier” or “studying more.”)
- Write out a dialogue between your “positive self” and “negative self.” It should look something like this:
Negative Self: You’ll never achieve your goal, when will you accept that?
Positive Self: I can do it, it will just take time and patience.
Negative Self: If you haven’t changed yet, what makes you think you can change now?
Positive Self: I’ve already made a small amount of progress. I don’t expect to change everything overnight.
Negative Self: Psh. You can’t change. You’ll always be a loser.
Positive Self: Haha, well that’s just your opinion. I disagree. I know I can do it.
- Try to embody both sides and represent them evenly.
- Let your negative self really dig into you and try to get under your skin, but let your positive self be just as powerful and resilient.
- End the dialogue with your “Positive Self” getting the final word.
- Once you’re finished with your dialogue, save your document so that you can re-visit it or add to it in the future.
- For bonus points: try acting out your dialogue and speaking out loud for both characters. This can help you really get in the spirit of it.
The main reason this exercise is effective is because it allows you to “step back” and reflect on what your two selves may be in conflict about, without getting personally attached to either self.
By writing out this fictional dialogue, you gain clearer insights into your own thinking. And it also gives you a chance to “air out” some of the things that may have been buzzing in your mind for awhile.
Feel like you’re being tugged between 2 different selves? Try out this exercise for yourself and see where it leads you!
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