Do you ever talk about yourself in parts? You know, “part of me feels this way” or “part of me wants this to happen.” Think about it for minute. Do you do it?

Well, you’re not alone. Just this morning I told a client that “part of me would love to be backpacking right now.” Why only part of me? What are the other parts of me wanting to do?

I can’t imagine only taking a part of myself backpacking. So why do I talk about myself as being a part? Why wouldn’t my whole self want to be backpacking right now?

I notice this all the time. From friends, to clients to people in passing – everyone talks about themselves in parts. Why is it that we don’t talk about ourselves as wholes?

Think about it. I’d really like to know. I have my own opinions, but I can’t learn anything from my opinions. I need your opinions to learn something. So tell me…

what’s the truth, does all of you want to be doing something – or just parts?

Reader Interactions


  1. Darn good question.

    We have physical parts with specific functions. Why not psychic parts?

    Noted psychologist Virginia Satir made the notion of parts, er, part of her therapy. She’d have “Parts Parties” where folks role played the parts of some volunteer ‘patient’.

    I mean people do have Multiple Identity Disorder, so maybe we do have parts.

    I will ponder.


  2. I’m with Char – it’s nothing deep and mysterious. I enjoy doing different things, things which cannot all be done at the same time.

    I mean, I could probably divide myself into fifty parts quite easily. Part of me would love to go skiing, a part go and visit Ayers Rock, etc, but none of this is possible due to a lack of resources, and other commitments.

    However, if part of me was to do anything of these things, that part would become the whole, as I’d be fully engaged.

  3. Sure, we all have various “parts”, which we don’t notice unless they conflict. NLP (neurolinguistic programming)has a technique called the 6-Step Reframe to get conflicting parts to understand one another and come up with a creative way of satisfying each part’s needs.

    Psychosynthesis calls the parts subpersonalities. It’s a method of integrating them, getting them to work together.

    This post reminds me of Rebecca McCann’s The Cheerful Cherub:
    I’m sure I have a noble mind
    And honesty and tact,
    And no one’s more surprised than I
    To see the way I act!

  4. I can relate totally to this. Our brains are powerful. Simply put… God didn’t design us to be physically strong. An ant can lift 25x their weight, a flea can jump the equivalent to a human jumping over a skyscraper, etc..

    Our brains are super computers… and are powerful enjoy to not only micro-manage what our own physical bodies can do, but if given the opportunity and the 802.11G capabilities we could run many physical bodies all at once…

    So by saying “part of me” that is just a subconscious involuntary response that your brain just spits out for the simple fact that it knows it knows its encased into a physically weak body. The human body one of the brains main limitations towards expansion. Aside from idiots that choose purposely not to better themselves.

    What is the number? I forgot… but something in the range of 8%. Humans only utilize 8% of our brains. The other 92% function just fine… but we can’t pick up on these frequencies. Some people do, and those are our geniuses and mathematicians.

    I believe that we are intended to be challenged. If we were born into this world having 100% utilization of our brains… where would be the challenge…where would the motivation to be successful be?

    A comparison would be video game cheat code. My kids always want to look on the Net for cheat codes… “Why?” I ask them… how will that help you learn? How will that help you feel good about yourself? etc…

    Same goes in real life… people who want to push the “Easy Button” are typically the type of people who aren’t willing to invest blood, sweat and tears into anything that want in life…

    Part of me wants a vacation… and part of me would, if I wasn’t limited to just one body! So, when part of you wants to go camping or go to sleep you have to just balance yourself and recognize that your brain is trying to communicate a message to you… “I need a vacation!” “You are over extending me”… If that is the case, then you need to grant that request. Because without our brains, or rather, without our brains being on “OUR SIDE” we are nothing.

    Ok… where the heck is my straight jacket and come someone please put me back in my rubber room now! LOL!!

    Sheesh… why did you create this post Dawud!!


  5. Personall – I just need a clone of myself – then the whole self can be doing all of the things it wants to do all at the same time. I have too many things I love to do that part of me always seems to be thinking of one of those other things.

  6. Lyle,

    Interesting points.

    Why do you think people are ‘in parts?’


    Cute poem. Thanks for sharing it.

    What I wonder…is it really parts of us that are in conflict or is it something different? I’d love to hear you take on it.


    You make me laugh…thanks. I laugh because as I’m getting to know you more, I can hear your vocal tones in your words.

    I certainly understand what you mean by ‘too many thing I love to do that part of me always seems to be thinking of.’ How often do you give yourself time to do those things you love?

  7. Oh, absolutely we have parts!

    Especially as entrepreneurs. I have the “fear” part of me (which I’m working on shrinking) and the “what have you got to lose?” part of me.

    Some days and some situations bring one out stronger than the other.

    There are times I find myself talking to a colleague and stating “well, one part of me thinks I ought to just scratch the whole notion” – that’s usually the fear part. Fear of failure, rejection, whatever.

    So, as business owners, I think we have many parts. There’s the “have to make money” part, the “need to feel good about what I’m doing” part, the “need to make time for myself” part, etc.

    It’s a constant juggle and you never know which ball is going to end up in your hand, but I think a mix of these parts paints a better big picture in the end. Sometimes one part wins, sometimes another.

    This sounds very Jekyll and Hyde, but I think (hope) it’s very normal.

  8. I think part of the reason (no pun intended) that we’re not always ‘whole’ people is because if all of you really wanted to be backpacking right now, you would be backpacking right now.

    However, part of most individuals (call it the superego, if you will) is more concerned with family, financial and job responsibilities.

    I’m told that in Hebrew, the word “perfect” connotates “whole.” There is certainly merit to bringing your actions and your desires in line—but a lot of the time, I believe that will come from changing our desires, not our actions.

  9. OK, I’ll bite. 🙂

    Jean was right in bringing up the NLP perspective on parts – although during my certification course, we learned a process called a “Parts Integration” to address this aspect of the personality.

    Parts are indeed a little bit like multiple personality disorder – although this is an extreme example of ‘parts in action’.

    Parts are created during incidents throughout our lives which could be termed as anything between traumatic and sad. It is a coping mechanism that the unconscious mind uses to deal with a situation that it quite frankly doesn’t know how to deal with, so it kind of ‘splits’ into two divergent thought patterns.

    Now I do believe that nearly everyone has ‘parts’. This isn’t a problem for most people, but it can and does become problematic when it feeds inner conflicts. I’m not talking about whether you want to be working or going backpacking. 😉 More like when you know you should be working and you have a deadline yet you simply can’t get yourself to sit down and do the work. At these times, part of you wants to be responsible and do the work. The other part of you wants to avoid it, usually for vague reasons.

    The NLP Parts Integration is really a fairly simple process, yet the resulting impact can and usually is HUGE. I heard that Tony Robbins did a Parts Integration with a woman with multiple personality disorder at a live event many years ago, and a year later a follow up visit from the mainstream media confirmed the lasting effects of the change.

    I’ve experienced a parts integration myself – suffice it to say it was not a comfortable process. But once over, I found that I have stopped using the phrase “part of me” ever since.

    Interestingly, this is the same process used in professional settings – especially in mediation. The premise is helping all parts to realize they were once together as a greater whole and want the same ultimate outcome.

    Does that shed any light on the conversation – or did I just create more questions? 😉

  10. When people ask how I got my start in building community, part of me wants to let them in on the conversations going on in my head.

    Yes, I do believe there are parts. The old man and new man, left brain and right brain, right and wrong, selfless and selfish…

    Of course, the parts make up the whole (similar to a community) and hopefully – a fully developed character is one that behaves the same in the dark as they do in the light.

    All of me thinks this is a great conversation:-)

  11. OK — I’ll give it a shot…expect a brain connection, though 😉

    Why do we have parts? (Since we all seem to agree we do have Parts.)

    We have parts because our brains work in modules – in networks with nodes that exchange information between and among them.

    That means that when we learn or experience something, the activity it creates gets “connected” to other related bits. Enough experiences of a similar ilk and we have a new node.

    Fortunately, we are all complex enough creatures that we have more nodes than we can count. They are somehow or t’other all interconnected (think 6 degrees ;-), but there will be some that grab more attention than others — and that attention depends on our internal and external context/environments.

    One other piece is that our brains are parallel-processors. We never think of just one thing. Sometimes we’re aware of (some of) the competition, sometimes we’re not.

    When we are aware, I suggest we’re noticing our “parts” — i.e., the concurrent nodes that got activated by whatever oontext we’re in.

    So Dawud, you wanting to backpacking might be the node activated by something you read or saw (that pack in the closet perhaps??) or an inner urging to increase your activity level (connected of course to the ways you like to be active).

    How’s that?

    I have a “dinner” node strongly linked to the “husband annoyed with my being late” node calling — got to go!


  12. Joy,

    I tend to think of people being whole. Not perfect (whatever that means) or without fault or fear. Just whole.

    To me, it’s important to look at my whole self as much as I can as often as I can so that I can have a more realistic perspective on who I am. I am with fear sometimes – and that’s just me, in the moment. But I don’t see fear as being separate from my capacity to love. To me, they’re all one…one whole.

    Certainly doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I’m just offering a different perspective. I’d love to hear more about what you think.

  13. Jordan,

    Interesting. I’ve heard the same thing about the Hebrew word for perfect.

    I hear what you’re saying about our desires. I agree. What I wonder is do you feel we’re more than our desires? If so, what? Could it be that we only need to align ourselves with what’s deeper than our desires and wants, we can live as whole people instead of fragmented desires?

    What do you think?


    Wow! I agree with you. Being fully present in what we’re doing does mean that we, momementarily at least, become whole.

    Now, how do we deal with those pesky desires and wants that Jordon spoke about?

  14. Dr. Karen,

    As usual, I love your explanation.

    But does that mean we’re really parts? Couldn’t it be said that the nodes are simply what’s whole in the moment? And how would we link the nodes to our more rudimentary desires and wants – as Jordan speaks of above?

    What exists beyond the nodes? Is it something more unifying?

  15. Garry,

    I’ve always been amazed by that fact about ants. It’s really incredible to consider when we feel we’re such strong creatures. The truth is, we’re quite fragile and weak – physically, at least.

    Our advantage comes through our minds and our consciousness. And it’s the consciousness behind our minds that, for me, begins to answer this question about wholeness.

    Who are we behind our desires, motivations, and wants? Are we more than the sum of our ‘parts?’ My thought is yes. But what is yours?


    I’ve seen both sides of the argument. I’m uncertain who’s right. But what if both are? What if it’s a matter of perspective and belief? I’m not playing mind games here, just thinking outside the box.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  16. Hi Dawud,

    I agree completely with what Armen had to say on the topic.

    We want to be involved in a diversity of challenges, but as we can only do one thing at a time we focus.

    So while we often talk about plans and wants, we are progressing through a series of focused timeframes, one after the other.

    By the way, I ‘tagged’ you in my first ever group project – The Face Behind The Blog. It’d be fantastic if you, and anyone else commenting here, could participate!

  17. Very interesting conversation.

    I’m tossed between two thoughts.

    ONE: disassociation or fragmentation. Possibly a result of crisis or trauma. MPD or DID (dissociative identity disorder). Many parts… one person. Or many persons… one body!
    Wendy and Jean give a great explanation.

    TWO: the ability to simultaneously hold two opposing thoughts. Sometimes thought to be a sign of genius. One mind… two thoughts. Dr. Karen’s perspective except that it’s not just concurrent thoughts, it’s actually conflicting thoughts without becoming conflicted.

    Just thought I’d throw a little mud into the clear waters of the discussion. 🙂

  18. Whoa deep subject. Great one though.
    As a person who jokingly admits to having MPD (and OCD) I have found a way to cater to the different ‘parts’ of me though my writing.

    It’s always been said that Mom’s where the most hats – mom, cook, nurse, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, counselor, coach, etc.

    Sometimes I wish I could just have one day where I could just be ME – plain and boring! But if not for the varied parts of me, I have to wonder, what would be left?

  19. Look at what you’ve done here Dawud!! You’ve shown the ‘mad scientist’ in a few people. I mean, I can be a pretty deep thinker, but surely some of these answers are people having a laugh? No?

    …maybe I’m just a little slow. 🙂

  20. [quote comment=”4009″]Lyle,

    Interesting points.

    Why do you think people are ‘in parts?’


    Why? Jung talked about the Shadow. It would seem the parts might be repressed or disowned bits.


  21. Very interesting- I think it depends on perspective.

    From the perspective of the ego, everything is in parts. There’s bones and organs. There’s my desk, and the things on my desk (hmmm… better clean up my desk…). There’s other people.

    So, it’s natural to make the assumption that when we have different feelings or thoughts that we assume that we’re in pieces and parts.

    However, my deeper experience in my heart is more along the lines of Dawud’s- that we’re whole. And not only are we whole, but We are Whole- if you know what I mean. 😉

    There is only One.

    Multiple personality disorder is just an extreme version of something that all of us do all the time- call different thoughts and emotions ‘part’ of us. When something is so difficult or painful to the ego- like trauma or abuse- it’s a mercy to not have to look at it constantly until there is a hope for healing.

    Unfortunately, this furthers the illusion that we are in parts, and stops us from realizing and living whole.

    It’s a useful mental exercise to divide things up into categories and pieces, but, ultimately, I don’t experience the pieces/parts thing as true.

    As Dawud said: I can’t take only part of me backpacking. And, even if I’m working when I want to be backpacking- that’s me making a choice, and feeling emotions and desires- it’s still one me, living with the tension and experience of being.

  22. Yeah. I was just kinda in shock at the difference between my super simple thoughts, and some of the deep musings.

    It’s highly interesting! Credit to everyone.

  23. Hi all

    IMHO we ‘only’ have experiences and wishes, not parts.
    Experiences as in something we have done (once, or a while ago – like a certain holiday, canoeing comes to mind ;-)) we would love to do again = wish.
    Experiences as in having learned something that resulted in success and wishing we could ‘experience’ that feeling again.

    All experiences (good and bad) and wishes make us whole (for that moment in time, we keep growing through new experiences and wishes – where we strife to fulfil these wishes, which then become experiences again).
    Because we will (hopefully) always ‘grow’.

    Just my 2p in this very thought provoking topic, thanks Dawud for making me think.

  24. Dawud – great conversation. I really appreciate how deep you take these issues.

    The conversation takes me below the brain to the mind. I see that as one – it’s whole. When we think it is a bunch of parts of our identity, it separates us from ourselves and others. And that leads to suffering.

    A great resource on this is written by Gempo Roshi

  25. Hoo boy, this is a long conversation! Not sure what I’ll add, except my own synthesis of it all.

    Parts? I agree with Mark, in that it depends on perspective. If I’m seeing my desires as me, then yes. If I’m seeing myself as one being, one heart, with multitudes of desires that all comprise one whole, then no, no parts. (That’s what others have said, too; but I’m not claiming originality here!)

    Is it a problem? A disorder? I wouldn’t go that road — not because it may not be true, but because it’s a label. Once we’ve labeled ourselves as “broken”, it takes a lot of energy to “fix” ourselves again. Instead, I see it as a symptom (no judgment) of the human condition. It’s a part of the dance. (One dance — life — with many subfacets. Here we go again…)

    A better (or at least, another) question might be, “Can we identify as having parts at times, and still accept ourselves?”

    Or, “What’s the journey of seeing ourselves as being made up of parts, to seeing ourselves as whole?”

    And, in the process, what learnings and assumptions get made? That is, in moving from a split view to an integrated view, what new labels get created/utilized (such as heart, soul, superego, etc.), and what meanings do we associate with them?

    Dang, we need a couple of couches, a big vat of hot chocolate, and some wee hours of the night to get to the bottom of this one… 😉

  26. Wendy,

    I think the best answers lead to more questions. Otherwise we’d stop searching within.

    NLP Parts Integration sounds interesting. Can you post a link where I can read more about the process.

    My own experience has shown me that we are whole beings all the time. I’ve come to realize that the essence of who we are is not fragmented or in parts. We are whole, complete beings – just as we are – with an illusion of there being ‘parts.’

    Where I think the fragmentation happens in in our minds. Our minds are great at categorizing and labeling things…it’s how we keep a perceived ‘control’ over our lives. But our minds are also filled with concepts that are as much real as not real.

    What is the unifying part of our being, then, you might wonder…our hearts. Each of our hearts are the center of our being – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our hearts look to bring things together into wholeness, rather than segment things into parts.

    So what would our life look like if we were more in touch with our hearts?


    Of course, the parts make up the whole (similar to a community) and hopefully – a fully developed character is one that behaves the same in the dark as they do in the light.

    Yes. Exactly. We can think of ourselves as being in parts. But my experience is that just a perspective and is only based in the reality we give it. I say reality we give it because that what we do – we give meaning, hence reality to the things inside us.

    Seems like this is developing into a post…

  27. Dave,

    I love the mud you throw…we can all clean up from it later.

    I think when you mentioned the ability to simultaneously hold two opposing thoughts you hit on a key point. I think the idea of parts comes from conflicting perspectives. How we hold opposing views inside ourselves. I love, yet I hate or am apathetic. Think of how much turmoil those opposites can cause in your mind.

    Perhaps that helps clarify that we believe in these parts because we struggle with the conflicts inside us. If we can’t resolve our ‘judgments’ around these conflicts, it would mean we’d need to dissociate a bit.

    But what if we looked the conflicts in ourselves from a state of wholeness…with acceptance and without judgment? How would this change our thinking? Or lives?


    I saw the tag yesterday. Thanks. I’ll join in soon – but maybe not before SOBCon.

    I do see your point in what Armen’s saying. We are moving through focused timeframes. But from where are we focusing?

    Your thoughts?

  28. Karin H.,

    First, thanks for joining in. Haven’t seen you in a bit, so it’s good to know you’re still around.

    I happen to agree with you. We are whole beings moving through our lives. I think it’s a matter of perspective as to what, then, we believe about ourselves.

    The odd thing is that if we believe that we’re in parts – then we must be, to some degree. But why would we want to be in parts? What is our motivation? I wrote above about it coming from our own, unaccepted internal conflicts.

    We are light and we are dark. No getting around it. We must have one in this world to see the other. Why is it, then, so hard to accept our darkness? Our light?


    Nice point. I’m intrigued why you see your hats as being parts of you. Huh.

    What is the fully expression of you wearing each of those hats?

  29. Armen,

    I think we all have a bit of mad scientist tucked away inside. It’s good to let it out to play once in a while.

    I love seeing how people think about issues like this. I think it helps open door to understanding and deeper thought. Ultimately, it could lead to change.

    So perhaps some folks are just having a good laugh. Is that fine with me? Absolutely.

    Conversation, to me, is about bringing varying view points and level of understanding together in a way that honors all participants and their points of view. No one person is right – accept as they believe.


    Yeah, perhaps. I can see people talking about themselves in parts because disownership. Certainly. Do you think that’s a usual use of the phrase, “part of me…?”

  30. Dave,

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I think we believe in these parts of ourselves because of our internal conflicts. And our unacceptance of our inner conflicts is what leads to suffering.

    So how do we break out of that suffering?

    Do you have a link for something from Gempo Roshi?


    How can I disagree with you when you’re quoting me? [grin]

    Yes! I think whole is what we are. And parts is what we believe we are – unless we don’t. So it is a matter of perspective. With that, what perspective best services our highest good? Is it one of suffering from the inner conflict we make into parts or the realization that we are whole already – just as we are – even with our inner conflicts?


  31. Char,

    Ah, you snuck in there while I was replying to Dave & Mark.

    This is a great conversation, isn’t it. I’m enjoying looking at this issue from all these sides without an agenda. It’s fun to let the conversation breathe and see where it goes.

    What are your thoughts on some of the recent comments?

  32. Armen,

    I understand. I’m loving the varying levels offered. I think it shows great diversity in how people think and what they believe. I’m just trying to encourage wholeness throughout it all.

    And, you should know that from where I sit, there’s deep wisdom in your statement, if part of me was to do anything of these things, that part would become the whole, as I’d be fully engaged. Look at be from below the surface…

  33. Ooooouuuuuuuuu………..good stuff 😉

    First Dawud: oh my, oh my! so much!

    “But does that mean we’re really parts? Couldn’t it be said that the nodes are simply what’s whole in the moment?”

    No. we’re not really parts — it’s only the perception of which “node(s)” we are aware of at any one time that make it seem so.

    And I would go further than your question — the nodes (that we are aware of) are simply what we are aware of in the present moment. There’s always lots of activity we are not aware of — and that’s the whole.

    “And how would we link the nodes to our more rudimentary desires and wants”

    We don’t need to. The brain (and the rest of the body of course) works as a whole — needs and desires and wants are part of our internal and external contexts. “We” don’t link anything – it just happens by association.

    “What exists beyond the nodes? Is it something more unifying?”

    Ahhh!!! This is the most marvelous thing. Our brains are complex/chaotic systems (in the physics sense of the words). That means that all the little cell to cell and node to node (etc. etc.) interactions add up to something more adaptive and complex than could ever be predicted from the “parts”. An interesting and fairly easy read in this area is Emergence by Steven Johnson.

    In this line of thinking, “we” are what emerges from all that detailed activity — and hence why “we” can be aware of at least some of that overall activity. AND I believe that Emergent Self includes ALL the information we carry — heart and body and brain and…?

    If you go to the global level, the little interactions are between me and thee and the emergent consciousness (“We”) is likely something akin to what we sense through mystical experiences.

    So, then —

    You talked about having conflicted thoughts without *becoming* conflicted — yes, the more we can consciously hold of what appear to be “opposites”/”conflicts”, the more we can see they aren’t — the whole idea of non-duality. Duality is likely the “side-effect” of limited awareness.

    And Dave Schoof:
    I can’t resist a comment on your thought of going “below the brain to the mind”. The notion of emergence takes the mind (i.e., the emergent Whole) above the brain and its bit-by-bit interactions.

    Sorry to be so long-winded — it’s great stuff. And I LOVE the emergence concept –it’s everywhere and helps to explain so much!


  34. Great topic, Dawud!

    You asked: “What I wonder…is it really parts of us that are in conflict or is it something different? I’d love to hear your take on it.”

    So I noticed last night when I started getting tense because I wanted to do this… and I wanted to do that…. I couldn’t do them at the same time but there was no feeling of inner conflict or “parts”. As soon as I tuned into what was going on I consciously relaxed and treated it as an effective time management problem that it was.

    IMHO thinking in terms of parts and subpersonalities can be a neat tool for getting in touch of subconscious processes, especially if there are aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge. The idea is to understand them and appreciate what they’re trying to do for us. It’s a gentle way of expanding our awareness so we can be more integrated and effective.

    I think it’s a fiction, but good fiction does change lives because it touches the heart.

    Anyway, I don’t think that applies to your wanting to go backpacking. Or to my being sick of working on a project last night and still wanting to get it done. As soon as I relaxed and stop pushing I figured out what my problem was and finished the project. Please let us all know when you work in your backpacking trip!

    Thanks again for the great topic.

  35. OK – I was going to try and find a written explanation of the NLP Parts Integration – but I knew it would be difficult to explain.

    Then I found this video of a live Parts Integration which, although pretty abbreviated, does indeed give you a good understanding of what happens in the process.

    Basically the facilitator helps the individual personify a part then has the exact opposite also come out – and then they kind of engage in a ‘conversation’ between each other. You can tell by the physiology of the participant that he goes through a big internal transformation at the end.

    I’m fairly sure that the trainer was certified by the same school I was – the script was almost exactly the same (though they left out a lot, because the process usually takes between 20-60 minutes).

    I’d love to hear what you guys think of this! 😀

  36. Very interesting question Dawud, and some VERY interesting replies.

    I think we do have parts, and unfortunately, when we focus on the parts, they are much smaller than the sum of the whole, and thus we end up as a house divided. The more “whole” we are, the less “holes” we feel.

  37. Very interesting question and lots of great comments!

    I would agree about all of us have different sides of personality, but I strangely enough never look at them as parts. And I can’t remember ever saying “part of me” about anything.

    I may wish for something and at the same time acknowledge there are some fears or circumstances holding me back, but it’s always a complete decision.

    I guess I’m just lucky! 🙂

  38. Dr. Karen,

    Yet I still wonder why people speak about themselves as being in parts. “Part of me…” You could say that it’s a habitual/cultural expression. But I think it’s more. If you think about it semantically, it would appear so at least.


    Wouldn’t it be nice to have this conversation all together. Makes me think of Liz’s Open Mic Night

    Are they just labels? As I mentioned with Karen’s comment above…what about people’s true beliefs coming through the words they choose – semantics.

    And, of course, we are what we believe in the first place. So if we believe we’re parts – that’s our truth. If not, that’s truth. I don’t think there’s any objective reality here. Because what is truly objective is beyond creation itself. Being a created thing means everything with experience, feel, believe, etc is a subjective experience. Even though you and I have generally agreed upon what the color blue looks like, our own, individual experience of blue is different – hence, subjective.


    Thanks for coming back and answering my question.

    …thinking in terms of parts and subpersonalities can be a neat tool for getting in touch of subconscious processes

    I can see that as being a useful tool. If we’er letting ourselves grow and evolve, it’s necessary to look more closely at ourselves, our motivations, our suffering, etc – and attempt to resolve, or at least accept, what we find.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t work in my backpacking trips. That’s my time and I show up fully in the moment when I hike or backpack. I usually can leave the world, and all my concerns, at a trailhead. Whether I’m hiking for an hour or spending 10 days in the back country. So I couldn’t dream of doing work while I’m in nature.

  39. Wendy,

    Thanks. The video is interesting. It looks a lot like some of the healing work I’ve seen (and used) in the past. Giving some belief ‘a life’ can be quite valuable. Especially when it’s something we can’t look at on our own.

    Our beliefs are everything. What we focus on will expand in our life. So if we focus on parts – we will become even more fragmented. If we focus on integrating ourselves more deeply, then that’s what we live. This seems like a method toward integration.


    I’m happy you joined us. Thanks.

    When I was involved in healing, one of my instructors once told me that we are beings of light. If we saw ourselves in our fullness we would be almost all light – with a few dark, dense points. But those dark points are just our light twisted. All we need to do is untwist those points to be free from our suffering and limiting beliefs.

    Sounds a bit like what you’re offering…

  40. Gleb,

    Glad to see you back. Thank you for joining in.

    This is an interesting topic, isn’t it? I don’t use the expression ‘part of me’ much either. That’s why when I heard myself say it on the phone the other day it registered. It shocked me a bit because my tendency is to just be accepting of what’s fresh in the moment. Am I able to accept everything all the time – hell heck no. But the more I’m able too, the less my life is a struggle.

    I’m with you, I feel lucky because of how I see myself and the world around me.

    Now, if my darn internet connection would work this morning I could happy. At least that’s what part of me thinks. Oops. [grin]

  41. Dawud – your comment to Wendy about beliefs and focus are important. I believe they hit on a big part of our struggle in life.

    Our beliefs (created by our upbringing, experience, education, culture, etc) drives what and how we see life and that drives how we act and then even how we check on how we are doing – our OK’ness. It is like our ‘range of vision’. And often my struggle or the solution to a nagging issue falls outside of that range.

    The integration you spoke of becomes critical. Activities and practices that develop the different parts of ourself (cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, somatic, spiritual, etc) can expand that range of vision, then gives us access to greater actions and ways to check on how we are doing and navigating through life. In my experience, those impossible problems all of a sudden seem approach-able. And how I sense my OKness is much richer and encompassing.

  42. Man, I love this conversation – I love how I find deep, satisfying and even existential conversations on this blog. I really see how you are evolving your vocation here. So much more than helping people with their web/blog or even their business. I see how you are focusing on relationship and through that focus helping folks develop – professionally and personally. Talk about integration!

  43. Dave Schoof,

    Yes, I agree fully.

    I see life as being about discovering ourselves as whole beings. We’re not fragmented because we have unresolved issues, in my opinion. We’re whole as we are, with all our unresolved issues. It’s just that people have the belief structure that they need to be different than they are to be whole. I see it differently.

    You’re right about vocation. Ultimately, my business is about bringing someone’s wholeness into their business. I just do it through using technology to express that wholeness. And I rarely speak overtly about the process. Yet everyone I work with goes through it at whatever level they’re able too.

    So stay tuned…there’s more coming.

  44. I don’t think of myself in parts, but usually my (whole) self wants to be doing multiple things simultaneously.

    Backpacking sounds like fun now, but bringing 3 little kids along would make it much different. Besides I like what I’m doing now. Except I want to bike and fish more — all of me.

    Yes, all of me has multiple conflicting desires.

  45. Ted,

    That I fully understand. I am pulled in different directions by the things I want to do. And, I want to be fully with them when I do have the chance. Like hiking with my three year-old daughter. When we go hiking together, it’s just the two of us and nature – nothing else. It’s incredible.

    Thanks for responding.

  46. Great post Dawud. And what an amazing conversation!

    The point has been made about becoming whole when you are fully present. This touches on the Tolle’s ideas in The Power of Now. There really is a feeling of wholeness when we are fully present. It’s that feeling of being “in the zone,” or the Flow state that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi speaks of.

    You can also speak of wholeness in terms of congruence. In those fleeting moements (for most of us) when our intentions, thoughts, feelings and actions are all in alignment, we are congruent, whole, complete.

    In those rare, but exquisite moments we feel the truth that we are not made up of parts. Or perhaps it’s that, while we are made up of parts, our true nature, our essence, is far greater than the sum of those parts.

    I’ll have to ponder this more while my parts are basking on the beach in Kauai!

  47. Edward,

    Yeah, yeah, just rub it in. If you really do plan on pondering it, I’d like a report back when you return.

    For me, it’s all a matter of perspective. What we believe is really what becomes our truth. If we believe (and live) that we’re whole, we find wholeness. If part – we find ourselves as parts.

    Have a great trip.

  48. [quote comment=”4021″]Joy,

    I tend to think of people being whole. Not perfect (whatever that means) or without fault or fear. Just whole.

    To me, it’s important to look at my whole self as much as I can as often as I can so that I can have a more realistic perspective on who I am. I am with fear sometimes – and that’s just me, in the moment. But I don’t see fear as being separate from my capacity to love. To me, they’re all one…one whole.

    Certainly doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I’m just offering a different perspective. I’d love to hear more about what you think.[/quote]


    I think that is the beauty of it. All of our parts meld into the whole.

    No, fear is not separate from your capacity to love, but it can often affect *how* you love and to what extent.

    I have always looked at things that happened to me in my younger days that would be seen as *bad* and appreciate the fact that they’ve all had an impact on who I am today – and I like me. So, yes, we are all whole people, but we do have a lot of parts, otherwise we’d always behave the same in a given situation. Maybe some people are more predictable, but I know I’m not. Not when my actions are emotion based at least.

    Really great conversation!

  49. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with this but what about religion?

    It’s through religion that we seek wholeness. And it’s through religion that we try to control our urges and desires. Regardless of which religion, we seem to find that they all emphasize one thing, controlling oneself. In other words, you sacrifice personal pleasure and satisfaction to please God.

    I know I’m going a bit off topic, but this might be the reason why sometimes we feel we’re in parts, and not a whole. We tend to do what pleases us, and so we find ourselves feeling guilt. Pleasure and guilt, even whilst opposing, tend to result for one action.

  50. There’s a whole process in Somatic or alternative Psychology called Voice Dialogue. It’s a very powerful tool for deep healing and integration. It involves letting all those parts of ourselves speak. It’s pretty trippy to hear what comes out of the mouth when you hone in on the individual voices, what they think of “me” what they think of each other. Then they are integrated in the whole at the end of the session. All of us share some of the same voices, then have our own added on. Pretty effective. See “Embracing Ourselves” by Hal and Sidra Stone. You need someone trained in it to be really effective.

  51. Hi Dawud-

    I look at my body. My intestines are not my head. Yet..if I shut them down energetically from stress, I can get a headache.

    Is my body one or is it a conglomerate of pieces and parts? What about my cells? And to get really woo-woo…am I a separate part of creation? Or am I one with the whole?

    Does it have to be one or the other?

    I find the places that ring truest for me are paradoxical.

  52. Ahmed,

    Brother, you’re not off topic at all. The point of this conversation is to explore the idea of wholeness from whatever perspective you have.

    I agree with you about religion; though I’m careful in using the word. Religion, at least in the States, has some very negative connotations with people. So I avoid that term often so that people can hear the conversation without their overlays.

    For me, the answer comes in knowledge – but not the knowledge found in our minds. Rather, I like the word ma’rifa (or Divine Knowledge) because it speaks to the unveiling of the internal knowledge of our true state. From seeking this ma’rifa, we find that we are whole.

    Just my opinion. I’d love to hear what you think…

  53. Pamm,

    I’ve read Embracing Ourselves and studied Voice Dialogue rather extensively. It’s a great method for bringing the beliefs that are subconscious.

    We all do have voices. But do you feel that the voices are our parts? I’m unsure.

  54. Hi all

    Voices, Dawud, internal voices are an important part of us. ‘They’ tell us, comfort us, warn us, teach us, berate us. Listening to those rumbling in the background – and sometimes very much in the forefront – makes us more whole.

    Sometimes I even have lively ‘discussions’ when I’m thinking, pondering, questioning ideas, projects, feelings.

    Couldn’t live without my voices, ‘they’ are me, growing me.

    Karin H. H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  55. Karin H.,

    That’s the beauty of being a human being…we have the chance to learn about ourselves through all our complexities.

    Sounds like you’ve found what works for you. That’s great, really. It seems so few people do.

    So, do you feel the voices are from parts of you or from the whole you?

  56. Hi Dawud

    All my ‘voices’ are me, not just little parts of me, the whole me. And sometimes new ones pop-up 😉
    Hope this doesn’t sound weird or multi-personality, it’s just the ‘humming’ of my mind I call ‘voices’.

    Karin H. H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  57. Hey, Dawud…

    Yes, I got that and thanks again for helping me to clarify. I often write and talk to myself in question form because there are no real answers….and definitely not one for all people all the time.


  58. Pamm,

    No, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s exactly as you think of it.

    What this conversation is about is being clear on how you see yourself and why. No answer is more right than another. It is a big paradox – as are most things that are true.

  59. How about “soul”?

    What is it? Obviously, it influences us each and every day. But is it our “true form”, the real us; or is it just one more part? Does it control our brain and heart-or is it another section that we have power over?

  60. Hi

    About those ‘internal’ discussions/voices that are me, I just realised something ‘strange'(?, is it strange).
    I’ve lived, spoke, wrote, read, thought for 38 years in Dutch, now – living in the UK for 7 years already my ‘internal voices’ speak only English ! ? !

    Wonder what that means; am I becoming a whole English, or just adapting to a more ‘convenient’ whole?

    (Must say at home with my partner we always speak Dutch)

    Karin H. H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  61. Well, glad to be of service (re laughing)

    Isn’t it weird though? I always thought that the language learned at the earliest age (say until 5 year old) would be ingrained in the mind. Specially with ‘unconsciousness’ i.e. internal voices.

    Other important unconscious things most be going on then to make that change – like feeling as a whole being right in the place where I am now.

    Learned something new then today (again).

    Karin H. H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  62. Karin H.,

    Yeah, it is kind of wierd. It must have something to do with being engrossed into a culture and constantly experiencing (filtering out) the mass of stimuli from that culture. Don’t know if I said that well, but I think you’ll get it.

  63. I like things simple (but of course ;-))

    I reasoned that it happened/happens because what I am doing now (in the UK) brings me more completeness.
    e.g. being able to grow/stimulate my ‘talents’, freely writing my thoughts down, finding more and more caring friends when I use this ‘new’ language.

    Not so weird after all then, just doing that what makes me happy, grateful and whole.

    Thanks for keeping the questions and answers going 😉

    Karin H. H. (Keep it Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  64. Karin H.,

    I reasoned that it happened/happens because what I am doing now (in the UK) brings me more completeness.

    Ooh, I like that.

    The most interesting thing for me is that you’re finding such positivity in your ‘new’ langauge. I think that’s amazing.

    You know, by now, I love the conversation…that’s why I blog. And thanks for being a part of it.

  65. These “parts”; our heart, mind, soul-whilst they coexist, do they all run our life in one particular direction, or does each venture a separate path?

    IMHO, I believe they desire different goals. Whilst the heart is chasing one thing, the mind might be after another goal.

    Maybe this why when we are occupied with one activity, a “part of us” would like to engage in another.

  66. For me, I’ve enjoyed immensely all the thoughts folks have been sharing.

    Yet I have to go back to the brain and its networks and nodes and emergent wholeness of “Self”. (Of course — what else would anyone expect?? 😉

    Let’s start with a metaphor. Is a forest the whole thing or the trees? Of course, it’s both — it can’t be a forest without having trees, but a tree alone doesn’t make a forest. Yet it has “parts” — different kinds of trees and other growth with different needs. It may not even be a forest to you if it doesn’t have wildlife, water, bugs, etc. All of these are “parts” of a forest, but not a forest by themselves. And they are only “parts” of a forest if we are referring back to the idea of the “whole” forest. By themsselves, they are “parts” at all, they’re wholes on a different scale. And each of them has its own “parts” (leaves, branches, roots) and each of these is a “whole” on a smaller scale.

    So, yes, I do think we have “parts” — but we can only talk about our “parts” by recognizing at some level that we are really a greater Whole. If I talk about “part” of me, I’m acknowledging that I have a greater Whole me that includes all these “parts”. And I can’t have a Whole without my Parts and we can’t help but have our Parts emerge into creating a fuller Whole.

    When I’m in flow, I’m not Whole, but I am changing my scale of attention to make the “part” a temporary “whole”. When I have a spiritual experience, I’m zooming out my scale to a larger “part” of a larger Whole — the Divine perhaps if I’m getting really close.

    What I believe (i.e., this is just my opinion) is very special about the heart brain, and its communications with the head brain, is that it’s “scale” is always greater than our head brain and that it can share some of the information from that larger scale (larger in the sense of more complete)if we learn to listen.

    Hope that contributes something. It’s been cooking in my head brain until my heart brain stuck some perspective in there ;-).


  67. Ahmed

    You ask some great questions…

    I see it as the soul being closer in proximity to Oneness and the ego/mind as being in proximity to ‘parts’ (if you will). The heart lies in the middle being pulled in whichever direction has the strongest pull on our being. If our ego/mind is strong, our hearts tend toward parts. If our hearts tend toward the soul, we tend toward unity. So I think of the heart as a switching station or ‘battle ground’ for purification.


    This has been a very nice and interesting conversation. One that I’m glad continues.

    I see that both are correct – wholeness and parts. For me, it all depends on from where you’re looking from. If you spend time in the ‘world’ of wholeness, there are no parts. And if you spend time in the ‘world’ of parts, there is no wholeness. It’s about perception and perspective.

  68. Hi Dawud:

    You said:
    “If you spend time in the ‘world’ of wholeness, there are no parts. And if you spend time in the ‘world’ of parts, there is no wholeness. It’s about perception and perspective.”

    We live in an organic world that follows certain principles, so I can accept this if I insert some words->

    If you spend time in the ‘world’ of wholeness, there no parts. And if you spend time in the ‘world’ of parts, there no wholeness. It’s about perception and perspective.

    Just because you spend time on a mountain looking down at a forest doesn’t take away that it’s composed of trees+ and that somehow that collection of trees+ creates a fuller, more complex entity that you can be aware of from outside it.

    And just because someone may be feeling lost in the woods and acutely aware of each and every tree and branch and sound doesn’t take away the more complex entity they are now part of.

    I absolutely agree that it’s about perspective, but I think that our ability to “hold” onto a perspective shifts and changes. Sometimes you may be aware that you and I are part of the same Whole, but sometimes we are going to feel pretty separate parts of Gaia or greater Wholes.

    Great stuff… 😉


  69. Karen,

    I love this…

    Just because you spend time on a mountain looking down at a forest doesn’t take away that it’s composed of trees

    True – in the ‘world of parts.’ You see, in the world of parts what we see is parts. So everything we look at or experience we do so from the perspective of their being parts.

    However, there is another reality to all this that is about wholeness. When we live in or experience this reality (for lack of a better word) we see only wholeness in everything. Whether it’s trees or personalities – they are all one. Not figuratively, but literally – from that perspective.

    We certainly move between ‘the worlds’ all the time. Most of us spend the great majority of our lives in the world of parts. But there are some who spend their life living in wholness. And we can each strive to that.

    As you can see, the discussion quickly turns to metaphysics and spirituality.

  70. I am really enjoying all the aspects of this conversation. Whenever a new comment shows up in my email, I keep thinking/feeling/sensing a Yin/Yang symbol. Whole, yet parts, yet parts within the parts of the whole.


  71. The concept of “wholeness” and “parts”-is it simply a perspective? Or is it beyond that?

    We can see ourselves as “whole” or part”. And we can take it to another level, all of humanity. Are we all, even as different as we may seem, one extensive family-but still a “whole”? Or are we nothing more than separate tribes and clans?

    Or is it a twisted variation of the two?

  72. Pamm:

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m seeing as well!
    Can’t have yin without yang and vice versa.


    I do think we are all “parts” of a greater whole. If we focus on our differences, we strengthen our perceptions and belief in them. If we can focus on our similarties, we can move toward a more collaborative way of living together on this earth. IMHO.


  73. Ahmed,

    My brother, what I think is that it’s all a matter of perspective. Spend your time striving for wholeness, for Tawhid (Oneness), and this may be what you find. Spend of your time in dunya (multiplicity) and that’s what you find.


    That’s the paradox…we are both and we are neither.

    Dr. Karen,

    Yes. Each of us has a place and that place, that position, if you will, is perfect.

  74. Do you know how we experience dreams? In them, our dreams seem so real and it’s impossible to know that they really aren’t true. We realize they were illusions only after they have ended, and we return to reality.

    What we define as “reality”-is it possible it can be the same thing? That all matter as we know it does not exist-and our “true lives” begin after our deaths.

    Now, I’m not dead yet, so I wouldn’t know. But is it possible?

  75. Ahmed,

    Yes, it certainly is. Some religions say that outright. Some spiritual paths talk about this ‘reality’ as being a preparation for the work to be done upon death. I think there is definitely truth in what you’re saying.

    By the way, my 14 month-old son is named Ahmed.


  1. […] Over at Healthy Web Design, Dawud’s post, Are You The Whole Or Just Part of The Whole has sparked quite an interesting discussion. Do you ever talk about yourself in parts? You know, “part of me feels this way” or “part of me wants this to happen.” Think about it for minute. Do you do it? […]

  2. […] Yet, as adults we know that we continually juggle with our feelings. One moment we feel one way about something, later another. Sleep on a subject, and we find a confused mind made up the next morning. Dr Ginott put it this way: A sophisticated view of human reality takes account of the possibility that where there is love, there is also some hate; where there is admiration, there is also some envy; where there is devotion, there is also some hostility, where there is success, there is also some apprehension. It takes great wisdom to accept that all feelings are legitimate: The positive, the negative, and the ambivalent. […]

  3. “Parts” of Yourself: Where are they all?…

    There’s a fascinating discussion going on over at Dawud Miracle’s blog about whether we have “parts” of ourselves or whether we are a “whole” misled by our language and habits of thought into thinking of ourselves in parts. (This guy is not just …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *