Counseling Services of Portland
                      Help for depression, anxiety and stress.    503-342-2510 call or text us

                Video about Counseling Services of Portland

Your Subtitle text

The Concert Called Life:  Integrating the Facets of Self

Dancing Fool web
Being Your Authentic Self, Naturally
by Suzie Wolfer LCSW

Imagine going to a concert hall.  A
single singer walks on stage and entertains for the entire evening


Compare that with a dazzling stage set. The orchestra tunes up in a chorus of cacophony.  Then the singers enter, one by one.  Voice added to voice.  The music swells to the corners of the hall lifting you up. 


Now imagine you add your voice to the choir of voices.  You feel the link to all voices yet retain your own unique voice.  You experience "The One and The Many."


You've just had a taste of the integration that comes with working with your unique inner states.  You become the conductor in the flow of independent voices linked together by common purpose.


Chaos in the Choir


Working with clients, no matter what issue they bring, most struggle with what I call "Chaos in the Choir."  Depression, for example, is singing so loudly it drowns out the entire choir.  Wrestling with the challenges of anxiety, grief or stress, it's difficult to find the songs inside that are calm, peaceful, creative let alone joyful.


It Sounds Easy


When we feel confident and clear headed, it feels easy to mange momentary feelings of anxiety, discouragement or stress.  But as the voice of the Anxious One, for example,  gets louder and more chaotic, most people instinctively try to gag it and put it in a sound proof room.  Get rid of it, like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland said, "Off with his head!"  In the land of psychology this is called denial and repression.


Compassionate Choir Leader


Every one has implicit memory:  layers of experience woven from emotions, memories, body sensations and actions that are stored below conscious awareness.  Until they are not.  When we experience overwhelming stress, a trauma or loss, these implicit memories become explicit and give voice to The Depressed One or other challenging "songs."  The gifted Choir Leader hears this discordant song and kindly listens and supports the singer to express the pain or concern.  When the process is too difficult, the Choir Leader calls upon her own voice coach for expertise.


Donna's Story

Postcard 2008

Everyone has different states of being that embody temperament, needs and skills.  And sometimes these states conflict.  For example, Donna was a successful office manager who had a series of stresses:  divorce, a company reorganization and a challenging teenager at home.  She navigated these challenges on her own.  But when she had a minor car accident, her Anxiety emerged telling her to isolate, eat comfort food and watch TV.  Normally a very caring person, she felt irritated with friends and family and then later felt terrible for being so mean to people she cared about. 


With help she started listening to the "song" of the Anxious One.  She let it speak using the words "I am the One who . . ."  Though she wanted to banish it's presence in her life, together we listened to its distress. Ironically, the Anxious One suggested the solution that never would have occurred to Donna.  She was surprised to find out that it simply wanted to journal, take long walks and to her surprise needed more touch.  So she arranged for a massage and gave herself permission to relax. 


She continued to listen to the Anxiety and to her continued surprise, found it became a trusted ally helping her to stay in balance, not the monster she feared.  Once she saw that Anxiety was trying to help, she could listen to its song for what it was, a call for help.




We all have an inherent drive for wholeness and integration.  When stress or trauma gets the best of us, integration hits a road block.  And like a jack in the box, old coping patterns pop up, such as over eating, isolation, playing it safe, compulsive behaviors, anger or sleeplessness. 


We can give these patterns a voice and listen to what they have to say, rather than letting them drown out the choir.  If we don't listen, they may try to direct the choir in a chorus of the "Life Sucks" symphony.  When we embrace these challenging members of the choir, we enjoy the powerful harmonies in the "Life is Good" oratorio.


The Next Step


If you're interested in strengthening your inner harmony, consider taking a SoulCollage® workshop  If you're struggling with a road block and need some help finding your inner harmony, consider a few sessions of counseling to reassemble your healthy complexity. to find out who's in your choir and hear their songs.


If you want to help others integrate their own choir, consider the SoulCollage ® Facilitator Training on April 23, 2010 in Portland


SoulCollage® gives us a natural, fun and easy way to "integrate the choir" as we learn to identify, listen and eventually welcome all the different "songs" inside.

Call me 503-224-3318
Email me