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What is Voice Dialogue?

We've all heard that voice in our head. It's the one that tells us that if we pushed ourselves a little harder we'd land that promotion. Or it's that voice that whispers in our ears that if we are sweeter then we will not be abandoned.

Most of us have heard that voice for so long that we hardly even notice it. It defines us. It is familiar and safe and essentially who we are. We don't question when we hear it. We just automatically shift into overdrive.

Without even knowing it we're doing psychological summersaults in hopes of being viewed as that sweet good girl — the one that we believe we must be in order to be accepted.

Those voices — the ones that speak to us the loudest — are called the primary selves in voice dialogue. But they're only part of the picture. Look past the voice that rings the loudest and you'll find many more.

Those voices are called the disowned selves. They're the ones that are typically the polar opposite of the primary voice.

Say, one of your primary selves is a pusher, who works hard to get things done. When that hard worker spots a beach bum stretched out on sand thumbing through the National Enquirer and drinking a Coke it sends them through the roof.

Or maybe you're someone who is very conscious of always dressing properly without ever being provocative. Then someone new shows up at work wearing a dress that's practically cut to her navel and you're appalled.

In both cases, your disowned self is speaking to you and it has much to say. Typically the traits that trigger us the most in other people are where we need to look to uncover our disowned self.

And that is exactly what Voice Dialogue is all about. It's a tool, a kind of souped-up magnifying glass that allows us to see these selves inside us. It does it without a critical eye, but rather with acceptance. It helps us see that that the pusher's voice got us where we are today. But it also wonders how much fun it would be to let go and spend the day at the park. Or maybe that perfect self that insists we always are dressed to the nines every day could benefit from spending a Saturday in sloppy sweats, without our normal sense of embarrassment.

Voice Dialogue is an instrument that helps us see all the sides to ourselves and balance them out. We don't have to stifle one voice to hear another, but with time we can create a symphony of voices that sing together, bringing more peace, joy and fulfillment to our lives.

How Voice Dialogue Works

Voice dialogue is a user-friendly tool that was created by Dr. Hal Stone and his wife Dr. Sidra Stone, two therapists that have long used this approach to better understand themselves and improve their relationship as husband and wife.

They see Voice Dialogue as a way to take people on a sort of magical journey. By learning to integrate all the voices or selves inside themselves, they reclaim who they truly are. They discover who they were before the vulnerable child inside them started piling on layers of armor to protect themselves.

Voice Dialogue may seem pretty simplistic in the way it works. But in truth it excavates deep into our hidden selves. Once we can hear what these different selves have to say we find we have far more choices in life. We stop reacting automatically and start making choices.

It begins with a Voice Dialogue facilitator who interviews each primary self, allowing all of them to express who they are. The facilitator may ask this self how being a people pleaser has allowed them to succeed in life. Or they may be asked if they can remember the first time they tried so hard to be good and cooperative during their childhood.

Next, the facilitator asks the person if they can speak to the disowned self. The individual may physically move to another chair to make this psychological shift. The disowned self then talks, explaining how she is angry and would rather speak her mind than people please anyone.

Or the primary self may be critical and a perfectionist but one of the repressed or disowned selves may be more easy-going and messy.

Over time the facilitator may speak to many disowned selves, interviewing each one and allowing that self to speak up. These selves are normal voices that all of us have — they're not a neurosis or something that should be medicated away. The beauty of Voice Dialogue is it accepts all of these voices and respects each one. No one voice is better or worse than the other, but they may be out of balance. We may place too much energy into being a people-pleaser because that's how we learned to get our parents' approval. We may ignore our disowned self that would allow us to take the pressure off, relax more and take care of our own needs because unconsciously we fear disapproval from our current significant others.

What's the Pay-Off?

For starters, Voice Dialogue helps us heighten our awareness of ourselves. Baby Boomers or natural learners of any generation are going to be attracted to the way Voice Dialogue shines a light on the mystery of many selves, some of which may be unconscious. But the benefits of Voice Dialogue go beyond enlightenment.

  • It can help you better understand your partner and how each of your different selves ignite conflict between you both.
  • It can lead to greater intimacy as you tap into each other and see how all these different selves play a part in your life.
  • It helps you become less triggered and more peaceful.
  • It teaches you how to react in emotionally healthy ways.
  • It can awaken your creativity and help you live more fully.
  • It can enhance intuition and self-expression.
  • It can deepen your compassion for others.

Finally, the great reward of Voice Dialogue is it leads you to yourself, not just the voice that speaks the loudest but the disowned parts that have been silenced. It helps us see our authentic self and all if its truly amazing parts. This one-of-a-kind psychological thumbprint is unlike any other.

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, each individual is beautifully unique. Voice Dialogue can help you strike a balance among all of your selves so that you can live life in harmony.


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