It’s OK To Be A Multiphrenic Modern Woman #LoveYourselfEnough

06 Feb 2018

I don’t know about you, but I often get overwhelmed with life, with the general feeling being: There’s just TOO. MUCH. TO DO. There are those days where my plate just feels far too full, I feel unsure about which direction I should be steering my life in, and I’m unsure whether or not I’m achieving everything I should and could be. Do you ever feel that way?

I few years ago I stumble across a word that I just love, that I resonate with more and more as time goes by. The word is multiphrenic and it means ‘multiple identities pieced together from the multiplicity of mediated messages in our environments.’

Coined from Kenneth J. Gergen (who I’ll be talking more about below), this word just sums up the modern day life experience – especially for women, I find. Thanks to technology, we live in a WORLD of possibilities, and it can be overwhelming to try grow our potential, when modern opportunities mean that potential is virtually limitless! And of course, because we are typically self-critical and deprecating, we can often view these never-ending possibilities and our scrambled attempts to pursue them ALL as failure on our account. 

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I wanted to write this blog today to say this: It’s OK. It’s OK to feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions, it’s OK to want to pursue EVERYTHING that interests you and it’s OK to feel like there is a lot more to you than just one or two roles and identities – like wife and mom. (And it’s also OK if these identities occasionally contradict each other – sometimes you want to be a nurturer and put everyone ahead of you, and sometimes you just want to put yourself first and pursue something for purely personal reasons.) Embrace your complexities!

In Gergen’s text, titled The saturated self: Dilemmas of identity in contemporary life, he further defines this multiphrenia as ‘the splitting of the individual into a multiplicity of self-investments’. He says ‘it would be a mistake to view this multiphrenic condition as a form of illness, for it is often suffused with a sense of expansiveness and adventure. Someday there may indeed be nothing to distinguish multiphrenia from simply “normal living.”’ And I believe this normal state of multiphrenia is here. We engage in far more relationships than ever before, embrace and are educated about many more cultures, and we explore interests with greater intensities than ever before. Our social capabilities have expanded dramatically.

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In an effort to help you (and myself) #LoveYourselfEnough this February,  I want to encourage you to embrace the multiphrenetic you. I would also encourage you to try streamline your efforts too, in an effort to really garner some satisfaction from them. I’ve mentioned a few times lately how this year I am so pro-minimalism (I can’t recommend the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things enough), but what I’m realising now is that today’s concept of minimalism is hardly minimal at all. It’s less about cutting things out (although this is important too) and more about focusing on what it is you really want to prioritise. Identifying these priorities and setting aside time for them means you’ll achieve more in those areas that are important to you, and grant you more fulfillment long-term.

What do you think about this concept of multiphrenia? Would you describe yourself as a multiphrenic modern woman (or man)? I’d love to hear from you.