Subpersonalities – The Roles that We Play

April 27 is Koningsdag, a national holiday celebrating the King of the Netherlands’ birthday. Coming from the U.S., I admit to being mesmerized by the thought of Queens and Kings ruling a country and what they represent for a nation. We tend to project onto them all the higher qualities of our human potential as their presence seems to lift us to a higher dimension. In fairy tales, they can be good or evil, but they all rule undisputed, without the need for approval or consensus.

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima

Perhaps you too have a Queen or King inside you. I know I do. She is the one who wants to yell, “Off with his head!” when my husband challenges me. She likes to be pampered and brought breakfast in bed, sit at elegant tables and sparkle with jewels. She may be arrogant at times, but she carries my self-esteem when I’m in a roomful of people and helps me to relax when I have to speak before a large crowd.

Subpersonalities can unconsciously run our lives

We all have multiple personalities that help us to function in the world. There is an endless stream of roles that we assume during the day, mostly without thinking. In the morning, we may be busy getting our children ready for school, so we become Mother. Then we go to work and become Ms. Executive. We meet a friend for lunch and we become Friend and Listener. At night we call our mother and suddenly we are Daughter. Later, when the children are finally asleep, we make love to our husband and become Wife and Lover.

We also have subpersonalities that might be operating without our conscious choice. I have one I call Miss Runaway who appears at any moment and unexpectedly takes over whenever she feels unsafe. Suddenly, I am in my car driving away from the pending crisis at hand! She protects me from harm (as well as other people from my vengeful wrath), but she doesn’t serve me when I really need to stay in the present, express my feelings, and be seen by the other.

Miss Runaway - A subpersonality

Miss Runaway – A subpersonality

Psychosynthesis is about synthesizing, or bringing all these subpersonalities into a unifying center of Self. The more you are aware of the different aspects of yourself, the more you are able to actually choose the right role at the right time. As you identify the roles that you consciously and unconsciously play during the day, your can then disidentify from them and freely choose the most appropriate action to take at any single moment.

All subpersonalties hold a higher quality

Subpersonalities are there to serve us. They developed when we were children to help us survive in our families and they all carry a special quality. But the important thing to realize that you are not any one of them! Many people become stuck because they fully identify with one role. For example, someone who only identifies with being Mother suffers when her children are grown and living their own lives. A man who identifies himself fully with his job may feel lost when he retires and doesn’t know what to do with his new found time and freedom. Some people are partially stuck in a subpersonality—like a man who can never marry because he is identified with being his mother’s son. Or the woman who still rants and raves like a small child when things don’t go her way.

All our subpersonalities know what they want and are determined to get it. The problem arises when two or more are in conflict. For example, perhaps one part of you knows you have to leave a dead-end job or relationship, but another part of you is scared and won’t let it happen. To harmonize the wants of different subpersonalities, it is necessary to go deeper to what they really need. Their needs are usually basic qualities, like self-love, more peace, or recognition from others. Once we understand the needs of our subpersonalities, we can transform any conflict by fulfilling their needs in objective and creative ways.

Learn to identify and then dis-identify from your subpersonalities

The first thing to do is try and observe your different subpersonalities throughout the day. What is each one doing, saying, thinking, feeling? What does each one want? What does each one need? Dialogue with them and let them have a voice. Give them a name. It helps when you use humor to do this.

As we become more aware of each of our subpersonalities, energy is released and we move closer to the higher quality they carry for us. In this way, we move closer to our true Self and ultimately Joy.

2 thoughts on “Subpersonalities – The Roles that We Play

    1. catherinelombard Post author

      Thank you Lorna. I always appreciate hearing from you and I’m glad this was helpful. I hope to write soon about the Subpersonality Model which describes the process of synthesis. Have a wonderful week.


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