What Does It Mean To Be Self-Led?

What Does It Mean To Be Self-Led?

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.  – Diane Ackerman

In a previous entry (“Our Many Selves“), the many parts that exist within each of us was introduced. In addition to this collection of parts, at the core of everyone is a Self which is the seat of consciousness. This is our source of empowerment. From birth, this Self has all the necessary qualities of compassion, perspective, curiosity, acceptance and confidence to lead through life.

However, a person’s parts are organized to protect the Self at all costs and will remove it from leadership if it senses danger or trauma. The sole job of parts are to protect the Self from pain. Due to the inherent intimacy between parts and Self, it is only a matter of time before the two begin to look and act alike. 

Thankfully the Self comes ready to lead and does not have to be learned or borrowed or strengthened. It is also not merely a passive observer or witness state. It is an active, caring and collaborative leader. When the Self is separated from the parts and regains their trust, harmony, balance, and leadership are restored.  Additionally, those hard-working parts finally get some much-needed rest.


When the Self is unconstrained, it will lead by caring for parts in a compassionate way.  It will lead discussions with the parts regarding major decisions in the person’s life. What does this look like, you wonder? You have more clarity when making decision. Emotions are less reactionary. Curiosity replaces blaming and there is an overall sense that you can trust your own decision making.

When Self-leadership is restored, the parts do not disappear (except for the extreme roles). Instead, they stick around to advise, work on solutions to problems and lend talents or emotions when needed. Each has a valuable role and set of abilities. Generally, they cooperate and when conflict arises the Self mediates.

Sometimes, parts will temporarily take over and we let them. In many situations, particular parts have abilities that make them the best leaders. At other times it is fun or thrilling to let some parts take over. The point is that when Self-leadership is restored parts can still take over, but not for the same protective reasons. More importantly, this occurs with the Self’s approval.

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