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Tips for Developing Communication with Alters

*This article is based on personal experiences from systems and should not be taken as fact or rules – this will not work for everybody, but can be taken as a suggestion for something to think about and to bring to a professional you’re working with to see if you’d like to try to approach things from this lens if it resonates with you.*

Upon first discovering their system, many systems will immediately and inherently focus their attention ‘outward’ (on their alters). This is incredibly natural. You’ve just discovered you’re not the only ‘person’ sharing your life, it’s incredibly normal to want to focus on the other people – to get to know them, to learn about them. People will learn about how to progress in healing this disorder, and they’ll learn that developing communication is a huge step in the process, so many will immediately focus on that step – on trying to get their alters to communicate with them.

This is incredibly natural and incredibly normal to immediately go to when you discover your system. However, is it the most healthy or productive way to go about things? Personally, I haven’t found that to be the case. 

It’s hard to do, but instead of falling into that temptation of wanting to get information from your alters and to get communication from your alters, try to focus on yourself. Focus on working to make yourself – as an individual – the most healthy, well-adjusted, capable, strong person you possibly can. Work on managing your triggers, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and building a support network. In between – at regular intervals, but not TOO often, make sure you make gestures to ensure your alters know you’re opening space up for them if they want to communicate. This could mean speaking out loud to them to offer for them to respond, writing notes, etc. Maybe make this a weekly practice.

You’re doing several things by focusing on yourself rather than your alters.

  1. You have to remember that DID and OSDD are meant to be hidden disorders. You discovering the disorder in the first place is already probably very scary for your alters. For you to also move on to wanting a bunch from them – communication, for them to go to therapy, reveal trauma, etc, is even more, and they are more likely to want to shut you off completely. They are more likely to open up to you on their own time. By focusing on yourself rather than them but giving regular openings for them to communicate, you’re keeping that door open for them but not putting pressure or expectations.
  2. You’re taking on the work of healing. You’re not just sitting by and waiting for them to show up to give you the answers to be able to heal – that wouldn’t work anyway. Healing is active work, and one of you must do it. Taking that on is a gift to your system and will earn you respect, trust, and gratitude. It will also make them more trusting that you might be more capable of learning about why they exist/knowing about them – some of them might not be revealing themselves to you because they don’t think you’re ready/strong enough. If you do the work to heal/manage your triggers/work on yourself, they might start to trust you more, and that might change.
  3. You will be getting better. This is just a win all around. You will be healing and getting stronger. There is no downside to this.

It might take time. It might take a long time. But as you focus on yourself – actively and with intention, and keeping that awareness of your system – you may likely see a lot of grounding in your system’s activity and changes for the positive. 

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