Here is a good idea from Psychosynthesis – The useful concept of ‘Subpersonalities’ and a way to work with them.
We grow into adults often believing that we operate as a single personality. Yet many of us describe ourselves as differing aspects. Perhaps we will say, ‘A part of me thinks, “yes”, but another part knows that it will be the wrong decision’. Or ‘I am in two minds’. I am not suggesting that all of us dissociate into complete, separate and distinct identities, such as in Dissociative Identity Disorder, a specific mental health condition often brought on by intense trauma.
Most human beings instinctively know that we are made of different aspects, and yet experience ourselves as a single ‘personality’. Some of these different aspects can sometimes conflict with one another, leaving us stuck and unable to motivate or to change.
Maybe we can think of ourselves as being like a village of different characters centred around a co-ordinating ‘chief’ perhaps – the self that we are. This ‘chief’ is pure awareness and will and in being aware we can, from our’ chief’, make more conscious choice about which part inside that we listen to and follow.
Depending on the situation, our thoughts and feelings, and around different people these aspects will come to the forefront of our character – behaving as a driver for how we think feel and behave at that time. This is a ‘subpersonality’.
Getting to know our own people inside, these subpersonalities will help gain more awareness, objectivity and therefore freedom of choice in our lives.
Think about how you might think, feel or behave, in these following examples.
- As an adult attending a family gathering, with parents, siblings and perhaps your own children.
Who do you become identified with – perhaps the. ‘ill-informed bystander’, ‘the one who organises everything and everyone’, ‘the watchful observer’, ‘the cheeky one’, ‘the impressive intellectual, or any others that you notice.
- Out for an exciting foreign trip, with your peers or partner.
- In a professional workplace – around authority figures, or alongside your peers and contemporaries.
- At home with a partner – when they are relaxed, or stressed.
Making the idea of these characters inside – or our ‘villagers’ – helps to dis-identify from when they take over and run the show, and identify with the self that we are that has pure awareness, consciousness, will and choice.
It is best to get to know even the aspects of ourselves we don’t like or appreciate, since they are often already making their presence known in our personality and lives. For example, most of us dislike the ‘victim part’. As the adults we now are, we may recoil from this aspect with some degree of shame but find that we can’t always help but to identify with and act from this part when we complain about life and other people to others, when we would rather not. Perhaps this aspect was and is sometimes useful in getting us the care and love that all humans require at times. With awareness and acceptance of and compassion for ‘the victim’, it then becomes possible to look after this aspect in different ways. In doing so this part transforms as we begin to ask more cleanly and clearly for support when we are inevitably vulnerable in life.
A way to do this after inwardly and quietly reflecting on your behaviour thoughts and feelings in a certain situation is to get a sheet of paper –and then to ask these questions of each aspect.
What do you really look like?
How old are you?
What situations bring you out?
What is your approach to the world?
What is your basic motive for being there?
What do you want?
What do you need?
What have you got to offer?
What are your blocks to full functioning?
Where did you come from?
When did you first meet, (name of this aspect, e.g. the lion)? What was going on?
What would happen if you took over permanently?
What helps you to grow? How do you relate to men/women/children?
Perhaps after writing you might draw the image of this character or see if a metaphor for this part of oneself emerges into your awareness as you connect with the energies of each aspect, e.g. ‘my lion’ or ‘the witch’, Hagrid.
This really is intense work on yourself – so be gentle and kind with yourself afterwards and get support from those you trust, friends and even perhaps professional therapists if necessary to discuss whatever you discover. Remember you are amazingly creative and adaptable and we all need certain aspects to survive in life.