Glenn Goldman, MA, LPC
Experienced, affordable counseling in Portland, Oregon



Know Thyself

“Know thyself” is a saying that’s been around since ancient Greece or earlier. At the core of the process of psychotherapy is the cultivation of self knowledge. When we really start delving into the question of who we are, we discover that we’re quite complex.

Most schools of psychotherapy include a model of the mind that is comprised of more or less discreet parts. For example, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory talked about the id, the ego and the superego. Eric Berne’s transactional analysis included parts that he labeled child, adult and parent. Many of today’s cognitive therapies talk about the emotional mind and the reasoning mind. These models suggest that our personalities are not monolithic. Rather, this thing we call the personality is a complex interaction of these various parts.

Once we start becoming mindful of the different “voices” inside, we can more readily engage in conscious, productive inner dialogue. There’s a part of me right now that wants the pleasure of the ice cream in my freezer. There’s another part that knows that I’m actually pretty full right now and too much sugar is not good for me. The part that wants the ice cream sees the other part as a kill-joy that wants to rob me of pleasure. The part that wants to resist sees the other as impulsive and irresponsible. When I allow them to dialogue, when I stand as a kind of referee, keeping any one part from dominating the conversation, I can weigh the information and points of view of the other parts and make more sound decisions.

Thanks for reading. Think I’ll go take a walk with my dogs now in the beautiful night air and then have a small serving of ice cream. Until next time!