I have arrived at the conclusion that we are all just many parts and to get angry or resentful of these parts causes a lot of trouble. We get into the trap, the infamous loop of being angry about our fearful part or getting sad about our shy part. Is there room for tenderness? Yes, I believe there is.
One of my Buddhist teachers introduced me to this whole theory. It's based in the Internal Family Systems model. Mary-Anne Johnston, a Jungian Analyst, gives a really great description of the parts theory.
In the course of a day, many of us may think, for example, ‘a part of me wants to do this and yet, at the same time, another part of me wants just the opposite’. Sometimes, this is felt as an inner conflict or ‘stuckness’. Usually, we simply notice this conflict and override one of the arguments. In a healthy personality, there is a fluid shifting from one part to another depending on what approach is needed, what is appropriate, or what is necessary under the particular circumstances.
Often, some of us feel stuck. We feel like we have run out of solutions. We don’t know how to move forward. In other words, our usual approach doesn’t work anymore. We may have difficulties with a partner,or we may feel as if something is ‘missing’ in our life, or we may feel depressed. Most of us have, over time, become dominated by a few strong parts that ‘run the show’ pretty successfully.
I can love the fighter and fight the lover. They are just parts, they are just pieces of the self. I get a lot of relief from this theory as it helps me approach the nuances within with a bit more compassion, love, and lightness.