Introduction Dealing with Negative Expectations and Taking the Risk to Look Inside
If you were taught similar things to me, you probably grew up believing that the world was simply divided into good and bad and right and wrong. And if you were to lift the cover on yourself
, chances were good that you would have the horrible shock of seeing all the bad and wrong things glaring up at you in a worse state than you had ever imagined. That is the naked truth many expect. Some people think if they lift the cover, there will be all kinds of things reaching out demanding immediate satisfaction, thereby making them feel suffocated, torn, and overburdened. The things I should have done but didn't, ought to do but can't. Some people think that when they lift the cover, it is going to be full of holes, dark recesses that will suck them into the abyss of the beyond and they will be lost forever. I've even heard some people say they were afraid they'd find skills or abilities that they would never be able to fulfill. But some people don't want to lift the cover because "what they don't know doesn't hurt them," and besides, "they are fine the way they are." Some people don't lift the cover because they don't know there is a cover and don't know there is anything to them except what they see or hear or what other people tell them. Described this way, it seems a little absurd, and yet these are frequent responses to lifting the cover and discovering the unknown about oneself. All the secrets, yearnings, and fears of one's inner self often feel like a Pandora's box, which, once opened, may contaminate the universe, or certainly obliterate the owner. In addition to these possibilities, there are some yet unknown ones, some undeveloped buds, like mushrooms growing in the dark, that hold new possibilities. Once the barriers of negative expectation have been dealt with and we decide to take the risk to look, we can make some amazing discoveries. We will begin our experience together by visiting the Theater of the Inside, where in the first act we will observe and get to know some of our parts and the ways in which they behave. In the second act, we will learn ways to deal with and use our parts, or faces, to discover new possibilities for ourselves. After the theater we will meet some famous faces from history, politics, entertainment, and sports in order to compare and learn from their
faces, the ones that they presented to the world and, as a result, determined how they are remembered in history. In an amusement park, we will visit a merry-go-round to look at our own faces from a different perspective. Finally, we will observe the delightful balance of a mobile to learn about freedom and equilibrium in motion. All these experiences will help us discover new possibilities for ourselves. The Theater of the Inside
Act I Lifting the Cover
Use your imagination and come with me to a very private place, deep within yourself, where each of us lives but few of us reveal what it's like to be there. It is our Theater of the Inside, which plays constantly, around the clock. You never know what is playing until you get there—tragedy, comedy, documentary, a morality play, or a romantic love story. It might even be your own production of Little Orphan Annie
, or quite possibly, the "Old Woman in the Shoe." Let's go into your mind, which houses this theater. I'll join you. As we step inside, we are handed the program for tonight. The Theater of the Inside boldly presents tonight's play Your Many Faces rated G Act I Lifting the Cover Intermission Act II Who Is in Charge? Your Many Faces are the players, Everyone Welcome Male and Female Young and Old Admission: Your attention and willing consideration of new possibilities Cast of Charactersin order of appearance The Voice of the Outside—The "They" of Society Anger Intelligence Love Stupidity Power and Manipulation Helplessness Courage Jealousy Humor Sex (and their many relatives or variations, too numerous to mention) The Owner New Possibilities The theater is a giant circular space. We look up to see a domelike structure high above us. Probably this is where the spotlight will be. The stage is directly beneath the dome. As we enter, there is only enough light to see more than just the bare outline of things. The light grows gradually brighter, and we begin to make out a series of doors all around the back of the stage that might be dressing rooms, but right now there are no names on the doors. Although the stage is totally quiet, we begin to notice other things. To our right is a huge contraption that looks like a lighted football scoreboard with a giant thermometer. It has numbers that start with 0 and go up to 100 in bold, black type. There is a column extending upward filled with a luminescent blue-green fluid. Sticking out from one side of the thermometer gadget are two large spotlight-looking objects: midway up is a red light, and at the top, a gold one. Neither is lighted. Under the gold light is a list of words headed "Energy Providers": Hopefulness, Helpfulness, Powerfulness, New Possibilities, Change, and Choice. Under the red light is another list of words, headed "Energy Depleters": Hopelessness, Helplessness, Powerlessness, No Possibilities, No Change, and No Choice. Obviously, there must be a connection between the energy providers (the gold light) and the energy depleters (the red light). Above, in the boldest letters of all, are the words "Energy, Your Source of Life." Apparently, this thermometer registers feelings. It makes me think that our feelings must be capable of both providing and depleting energy. The gold and red lights are probably signals to indicate which is doing what. That seems important. Does it mean there is a way we can experience things differently? Does it mean if we know more about our feelings, we can change some very fundamental things about our lives? Could it possibly mean that we really aren't stuck with the way things are right now? That is a very hopeful and encouraging thought. Energy, Your Source of LifeEnergy Providers
Hopefulness Helpfulness Powerfulness New Possibilities Change Choice Energy Depleters
Hopelessness Helplessness Powerlessness No Possibilities No Change No Choice On the other side of the stage, to our left, my attention is drawn to another device, equally as large as the thermometer gadget and directly across from it. It has rings of color—nine to be exact—and over the top are the words "Universal Resource Wheel." It too is unlighted, but it is covered with dust and cobwebs as though it hasn't been used for a long time. Somehow I know this wheel holds another of the keys for hope. My eyes move to the right of the wheel and my stomach tightens into a painful knot as I read a list called "Rules for Being a Good Person." There are no cobwebs or dust on this one. It is brightly lighted and looks to be in daily use. It reads, "I must always be right, clean, bright, sane, good, obedient, healthy, no matter what the cost or situation, for everyone counts more than me, and who am I to ask for anything for myself?" Rules for Being a Good Person I must always be
Right Clean Bright Sane Good Obedient Healthy No matter what the cost or situation, for everyone counts more than me, andwho am I to ask for anything for myself?
It seems that throughout my entire life I have run into this in some form or another, and almost everywhere. I recognize it as the "Universal Should List." I spent many years trying to make it work, but the best I could do was to succeed only some of the time. When I couldn't make it work, I felt very bad about myself. The more I look around, the more I see, which is, of course, natural. The important thing is to get your-self to look. Across from the Universal Should List, just to the right of the thermometer-scoreboard contraption, I notice another large sign. At the top in big glistening letters are the words "I, Me-, Myself." Underneath in very clear though not as large letters appear the words "I can be whole, joyful, loving, healthy, intelligent, sexual, creative, humorous, competent." In less bold letters, under that I can barely make out the words "It is all possible." I, Me, MyselfI can be
Whole Joyful Loving Healthy Intelligent Sexual Creative Humorous Competent It is all possible.
I remember the many times I have doubted those words. Like many other people, I thought that was only for those who have degrees, make a lot of money, or have the right parents and good opportunities, but not for me. Again, the muscles in my stomach tighten. The light is getting fuller now. High in the dome above me I see clearly written "Your Many Faces," as if to leave no doubt, in case we had not read the program, of what the play will be. Suddenly I am aware of music and realize it has been playing in numerous variations—soft, loud, slow, fast, heavy, light, on key, and out of key—ever since we arrived. It is as though it is following the full repertoire of life's many moods, struggles, and joys as they shift and change. The music fades slightly and the names on the doors light up. They are Anger, Intelligence, Love, Stupidity, Power and Manipulation, Helplessness, Courage, Jealousy, Humor, and Sex. From offstage a strong, menacing voice opens the scene."Do you always have to mess everything up?" In response, a figure, obviously Anger, wearing a cast-iron suit with large spikes sticking out of it, storms on stage, bellowing, "Who do you think you are? Who are you to talk?" pointing a bony finger in the direction of the voice. Anger's neck is bright red and its face looks mean. I am frightened.Now the door of Intelligence swings open and a figure with a very large head strides out, apparently curious to see what is going on. "Now, now," Intelligence says confidently, "let's bring some reason to this situation. Let's analyze it and see what's going on here." Anger whirls around to face Intelligence. I know there is going to be a conflict. Turning contemptuous, Anger shakes a clenched fist at Intelligence. "Talk, talk, talk, all you do is talk. Reason! Bah!"To the right of the stage the red light is on full and the energy level is running up and down as though it is being chased. At this point, Love bounds through the door, resplendent in a flowing robe, and dramatically announces, "Love conquers all!" quickly wrapping Anger captive in its arms. Obviously shocked and insulted, Anger re-wards Love with a sharp pinch. Within moments, mayhem, chaos, and confusion erupt. Love screams and quickly retreats with a look of devastation and a cry of despair.Love's quick action has clearly served some purpose though, because the left side of Anger's cast-iron suit falls off. Anger is too angry to notice and shouts accusingly, "Love is for weaklings! Only weaklings cry!" Intelligence is getting nervous; apparently it is trying to think of something reasonable to say, but is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Stupidity shuffles on stage, looking very much like how Intelligence feels. Stupidity is quite a sight, dressed in clothes several sizes too tight and full of holes, making unintelligible sounds, and drooling. It is pathetic. I wonder whether this character is trying to be funny or is in real agony. Stupidity is too much for Anger; the rest of its suit of armor falls off. Anger is very vulnerable now but seems totally unaware of it. Stupidity has stopped the action and is dominating the scene. Anger, upstaged, begins to shrivel and moan al-most as unintelligibly as Stupidity. What a group of characters. Love is wailing in the corner, and Intelligence is dumb. The gauge is red and the energy level has dropped to between helplessness and hopelessness. The condition is close to paralysis, and something has to be done or it will be too late. At this moment, two very imposing figures approach. They are Power and Manipulation, who share a dressing room and, as usual, are all wrapped up in each other. Power looks confident but there is a piercing gleam in its eye. Its body is lean and looks somewhat like a robot, fully equipped with automatic buttons. We are too far away to read what the buttons say, but they must be means of implementing Power's unspoken motto: "If you can't make it happen any other way, force it." Manipulation is a funny-looking little person with a head that turns all the way around. Its limbs contort so that one leg and one arm are sometimes in front and sometimes behind. It is truly an all-purpose character. Clearly, whatever happens, Manipulation will have some way to deal with it. In a cold voice, Power boldly states, "Anger must be stamped out. Anger is dangerous." With a sweet smile on its face, Manipulation approaches Anger as if to be a friend. When Anger drops its guard, Manipulation and Power, working as a team, one on either side, begin to pull Anger apart. Right or wrong, at least someone is trying to do something. Love utters a shrill cry of fright and pleads, "Don't hurt, don't hurt!" The energy is high, but it is being used dangerously. I can feel the terror. What can come of this? At exactly that instant, from somewhere outside, the voice thunders, "Stop it right now! Good people don't behave like this! They don't even feel like this! Stop immediately!
" All action on stage ceases, and from the corner of my eye I see the energy level in the thermometer plunge. The figures slink back to their dressing rooms. Immediately the names on the doors change to Banished, Ignored, Rejected, Paralyzed, and Punished. A terrible feeling of powerlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness fills the room. The outer problem is solved, at least for the time being. Despite this, all of us know the inner struggle re-mains, though for the moment, it is out of sight. How many times had I lived through this very scene, stifling my feelings to please the outside world? Even the thought of it makes me feel sick in-side. My further thoughts were lost in the din of wailing and knocking, moans, ludicrous laughter, and buzzing sounds coming from behind the doors. It was a relief to hear the voice, apparently feeling guilty, call out, "Well, if you are so helpless, we will just have to deal with it. If you were more mature, this sort of thing wouldn't happen all the time." With much weeping and wailing, Helplessness creeps out, pleading and promising to be good if only nobody would fight anymore. I almost cried out, "Stop it. Shut up. I can't stand it!" I was remembering the Universal Should: "No matter what is going on, no matter what it costs, look happy and be nice!"
Excerpted from Your Many Faces by Virginia Satir. Copyright © 2009 by Virginia Satir. Excerpted by permission of Celestial Arts, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.