Our rebellious inner freedom fighters are absolutely critical to our success as human beings.
They exist despite horrific experiences that taught us to conform and seek approval no matter what the cost to our integrity. They are the keepers of our true selves. They hold our purpose under lock and key. They refuse to let us be lost forever. The inner rebels represent the true spirit of humanity. Almost everyone in the world who has made a name for themselves or changed the world has been in touch with the spirit of their rebel.
It is sad that I have only learned of my freedom fighters in the past year. I always knew they were there and even spoke of them on occasion, but I did not have conversations with them until recently. They were buried under years and years of traumatic experiences and their devastating emotions.
They bring with them a self-sabotage of epic proportions. In a way, it’s good. If the controller could do their job without any trouble, we might not find it necessary to explore our inner world and heal our trauma. It is also a good thing because the road our controller takes us down is one of survival. And while survival is certainly important, it isn’t why we are here. We are here for so much more than that. Taking the path with the least visibility and effort is not okay with the rebellious parts. Before this work, I gave all this credit to the inner child, but I have awoken to a new reality. These parts are older and more powerful and they are not backing down for anything.
But in inner parts work, we have to look at how their strengths are being used in the wrong ways. We have to examine how their trauma-born beliefs are turning their power against us. We have to look at how they are stopping us from succeeding at anything because they feel suppressed by our defenders. We have to stop the battle between our parts before we are driven to the brink of exhaustion (probably too late) and give up on the whole thing (might be too late for that too). In order to do that, we must start where we always need to start. We must listen for the beliefs that are creating the problem. These beliefs are often fueled by the hopelessness of years of searching for freedom to no avail. Let’s look at some examples now.
- Nobody gets to control me, so I will do nothing. If the inner rebel believes we are too close to being controlled by another person, they will stop us in our tracks. That might not sound too bad. But the problem is in their interpretation of control. Almost anything can be seen as control by a rebel part. This can have a major affect on our ability to work with bosses, clients or even friends when cooperation and compromise is needed. We stop our actions in mid-stream which impacts how others view our reliability.
- It is best to stay away from people who want to oppress me. The inner rebels often believe it is best to isolate from others. If we are alone, we can do whatever we want without being oppressed by others’ opinions and suggestions. But being isolated is rarely going to provide us the environment to pursue our greatest purpose in life. So the rebellious parts can never really get what they want.
- I am different from everyone else. In reality, this is true. We are different and that is a good thing. But our inner rebels will use this as a reason to stay disconnected from others. They will justify their aloneness through their differences, instead of connecting with others over those differences. In reality, differences between people create the most beautiful connections.
- If everyone else (translated to anyone else) is doing it, I don’t want to. The rebel needs to do their own thing. That can be powerful. But when someone else is charting a course too similar to our own, the inner rebel can become discouraged and attempt to drop the entire project. The inner rebel doesn’t always realize that two people can be successful when their paths are similar and that no two people will do something the same way.
- That doesn’t apply to me. The inner rebel will often believe the rules don’t apply to them. That can be great when the rules need to be broken. But it can also lead to self-destructive behavior. They may believe they are safe from the effects of excessive alcohol or drug use. They may believe that over-eating or smoking won’t have the same impact on their health that it does for others. They may attempt unsafe adrenaline-rushes while believing they are untouchable.
I see the beauty of the inner freedom fighter. I love what they are capable of. But I also see how the battle between the inner defenders and freedom fighters can leave us in a paralyzed place. We can get stuck without any sense of how to move forward. It is important that we keep a look-out for how this battle is stopping us. It could appear as anxiety or depression or any number of other paralyzing behaviors. The key is in the awareness of how this battle is playing out in your life. So watch for your inner rebels. They are there. And they need to be heard.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW