Psychologists have recognised for many years that one person will have many sub-personalities.
Sub-personalities are the different parts of ourselves; these ‘sub-selves’ have developed unconsciously throughout your life. It may sometimes feel like you have a whole ‘sub-committee’ of personalities all within yourself.
Each sub-personality may take on a different role at any one time. When several are present within you, they may even seem like dominant members of a board of directors who all have competing interests and with a set of priorities based on their own viewpoints!
Examples of sub-personalities
An example of a sub-personality may be that you have a ‘performer’ side to you. This means you may like being the centre of attention. But this side may not always dominate, sometimes a ‘shy’ part of you may be more present.
Other examples of sub-personalities:
It’s useful to notice these and ask whether you are different on distinct days, in certain circumstances and with diverse people. It will raise self-awareness, which is really key to understanding yourself and so that you can, as much as possible, ‘be your best self’.
You can use these four stages to work with and to get to know how to use your sub-personalities:
Stage 1: Recognition
Write down your sub-personalities, take some time over this and come back to it on different days. If you like you can give them names and you could even picture them as separate ‘bodies’ or ‘beings’. For example, your ‘performer’ sub-personality could be imagined as yourself in stage dress.
Stage 2: Acceptance
During this stage you will look at your sub-personalities without judging them. This can be hard, since a sub-personality may be a part of yourself that you don’t like and have repressed. Often, the more it is repressed, the more it can assert itself and if you can start to understand its origins, you can see how it has served you in the past and may continue to serve you in the present and future. Accepting your sub-personalities, without judgement, is essential at this stage.
Stage 3: Coordination
The next step is to think of the basic urge or need for the sub-personality. Take some time to recognise when a sub-personality is taking over. Can you take a conscious decision whether or not to stay in this personality? A little like when in my last blog, I was talking about ‘mindsets’, it’s good to recognise the trigger.
Try to be less reactive to a situation and see if you want to decide to embody this part of you, or is there another sub-personality that might be more useful at this point in time.
An example is that if you are fearful of something, it might be that you have to go for an interview, then this might bring out a sub-personality (e.g. the worrier) that came from an experience you had as a child that didn’t go well. For example: where you were in an oral examination (or a music exam). This sub-personality may come out as you are under a similar pressure to perform. If this sub-personality is taking over, then thinking about a time when you were successful in a meeting, try to bring out a side of you (e.g. the manager sub-personality) that might help the situation. N.B. You will have your own names for your different sub-personalities and they may be different to the example above.
If you notice that a sub-personality is taking over, can you stay detached from that part of you? Especially if it isn’t serving you at that moment?
Stage 4: Integration
A fourth stage is when you get to know the different sub-personalities, can you try to experiment with combining them? If two are working together in a co-ordinated way, might this help you?
We all have these different sub-personalities and the ideal way to deal with them is not to suppress them, but to acknowledge them. If you are really in control of them, it could even be seen as you conducting your own orchestra. In that way all your different ‘selves’ will be ‘playing’ in perfect harmony with each other!
You might also be interested in reading my blog about Sub-personalities and how they can help with goal-setting.