Focusing Tip #334: “Does Self-in-Presence speak?”

Focusing Tip #334: “Does Self-in-Presence speak?”
May 29, 2012 Ann Weiser Cornell

Becky writes: “Does Self in Presence speak?  Or if you get a message from something within you, does that necessarily mean it is a Part speaking?  Seems like sometimes Parts impersonate Presence, but if Presence doesn’t speak, then that would be one way of telling the difference. And if Presence does speak, then can we identify Presence by the kinds of things it says?”
Dear Becky,       
It’s an interesting question! The easiest thing to say is: Of course Self-in-Presence speaks, because you speak, and ideally you are Self-in-Presence. So when you say “Hello I know you’re there,” to something you are aware of inside you, that is Self-in-Presence speaking.

I know that’s not what you mean, though. I’m thinking you mean something like hearing the words, “It’s going to be OK” in the middle of a Focusing session.

That might be from a ‘part’ or it might be from what I would call ‘whole self knowing’. As in “I have a deep knowing that it’s going to be OK.”

Some things we hear in Focusing are clearly from parts. Here are some examples:

“Don’t worry. Stop worrying so much.”

“You need to figure this out.”

These are probably parts talking… Because as Self-in-Presence we would not say “don’t worry,” we would say, “Hello to the worried part.” We would not say, “You [or I] need to figure this out.” We would say, “Something in me feels the need for me to figure this out.”

But with “It’s going to be OK,” it’s not so easy to tell.

How “knowing” feels in the body

When I am being with the whole feel of a life issue in my body, and I’ve been sensing it exactly, sensing its emotion, letting it know I hear it… and I feel a relief and a deep breath coming… I often feel a lightness and a warmth through my whole body. And then sometimes I have a ‘knowing.’ It might be like, “This isn’t as big a problem as I thought it was.” Or it might be, “I can handle this now.” Or maybe, “It’s going to be OK.”

I might get words, or it might be a feeling that would be expressed in those words if I were talking to someone, but in my body it’s more of a ‘knowing’. And if I check it, if I bring the words back in, there is a deeper breath, and a deeper sense of ‘knowing.’

But the other possibility is that I might be in touch with something in me that’s tight and sad and curled up, and I can feel how sad it is, and then I hear the words, “It’s going to be OK.” But there isn’t actually a knowing. Instead, I can tell that those words come from a part of me that is trying to make things better, trying to reassure so the pain will go away. So I’ll be saying “Yes I know you’re there too” to this part of me that wants to reassure.

One is a “whole self” knowing, the other is from a part that wants to make things better, and the two feel very different. Remember in Focusing there is no need to make anything better. “Better” comes from inside, when we give it space.


  1. luiz pereira 10 years ago

    Dear Ann,
    I haven’t visited this site for a while … but .. my oh my, you are fabulous – no two ways about that!! You articulate so clearly and consistently; that, anyway, is how I experience your work. You are very helpful.
    luiz pereira
    south africa

  2. Teresa 10 years ago


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