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How Inner and Outer Communities Support Each Other

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

The Grace Principle of Embracing Wholeness and the practice of using parts language provides wonderful insight into how communities of people, in any number, can embrace wholeness as well.

Somewhere in all of us there is a desire to live in community. That is, to live with other people who accept us, like being with us, value us. We want to belong... somewhere. There is a pull to community or village. We want to work together, share together, love together. But living in community has proved to be incredibly difficult in modern society. There have been many attempts to do this over the last few centuries: communes, collectives, co-ops, neighborhoods, social experiments, religious organizations, clubs, etc. But there are always breakdowns. And usually, the breakdowns lead to fragmentation and often to collapse, leaving behind a trail of disillusioned people, or even worse.

Rather than maintaining their path as a connected team of individuals, working together, communicating with and accepting each other, holding (gracefully touching) and honouring each other, recognizing each other's gifts, contributions and wisdom, the attempt to build lasting community fails.

Sound familiar?

Yes, this is how we described the problem with our inner community of parts and our struggle with feeling brokenness. It is a problem, at both levels.

Intriguingly, our difficulty in accepting and including all of our inner community of parts, and the resulting feeling of fragmentation and brokenness, is exactly why it is difficult for us to live with a community of individuals who are, in turn, struggling with their own inner brokenness.

In the illustration below there are two identical circles, one was used to illustrate an inner community of parts in our discussion of Embracing Wholeness. The other, which is identical, could be an illustration of a community of individuals.

Community individuals are similar to inner parts, because even though each person has their own inner community, they tend to have parts that dominantly drive their behavior, especially when facing threat. So the dominant characteristics of individuals in community can look just like an inner community of parts. And if the parts are NOT working on holding each other, giving each other grace, learning to be with and listen to each other, allowing them to belong, they will break down and separate.

For example, how do the pragmatists in community deal with the people who are always dreaming up new ideas? How do the excluders, who want to do things on their own, get along with the includers, who always want to do things together? How do the wise ones deal with the ones who are so foolish and silly? How do the considerate ones deal with the inconsiderate ones. And on it goes.

This can be the exact struggle going on inside me. When faced with dissonance, or conflict, in my inner circle of parts, I often want to get rid of, or exile, the ones that are most uncomfortable. Which is what happens in communities of people as well. When dissonance or conflicts happen, as they inevitably will, we will often want to fix, or get rid of, or evict, the most uncomfortable community members.

So where does real community begin? How can communities grow into wholeness? It starts inside each one of us. As we work on reclaiming our wholeness by welcoming and valuing all of our parts, no matter how they show up, we begin to expand our capacity to live in connection with others in all the ways they show up.

This is, however, a great chicken-or-egg proposition. Which comes first, inner community wholeness, or outer community wholeness? The truth is, both have to happen at the same time. Welcoming home my inner parts, accepting them and discovering their gifts, inviting them back into my wholeness, takes others — yes, it takes community — to hold my inner parts with Grace. And as they hold me and my parts (touch and accept all of me), my conscious capacity to gracefully hold others in all the beauty and messiness of their parts expands as well.

The key to embracing wholeness in self, others and community, is to know that people are not all good or all bad. They may have parts that in their zealous quest for safety or worthiness have harmful impact, but that is not ALL of them. It is only part of them. And it is part of their beautiful wholeness.

As a community, we can join together in welcoming wholeness internally and externally. From moment to moment, I can embrace the increasing somatic knowing that my inner self is not broken or lacking anything, while also embracing the knowing that my outer community is not broken or lacking anything, either.


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