In the worksheet, Making Peace with Your Subpersonalities, you were offered a clear template to achieve harmony and peace within the community of the self. Here is a reminder of the five stages:
- Identifying and naming your subpersonalities
- Understanding your subpersonalities
- How your subpersonalities express themselves
- Understanding the relationships between subpersonalities
- Creating a peace treaty
To take this journey in the most effective way, it helps to understand the primary traits of the core members of your community of the self, enabling you to better navigate your way through this process.
What follows is a list of the main subpersonalities, itemising the primary traits for each one. This is not a definitive list, but it does include the main antagonists. What you will see, the more closely you examine the subpersonalities, is that there are significant areas of overlap between them, which was explained in the prequel. Remember, the subpersonalities look for common interests and shared agendas, which is how the groupings within the community are formed.
It should be added for clarity, that not every trait allocated to a particular subpersonality will necessarily apply to an individual who identifies with that subpersonality.
See if you can see which subpersonalities you are most aligned to. There are usually half a dozen main players. There could be more and may be less, but this is a good guide. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you can identify with something in every one of them, that you somehow have all the subpersonalities active within you. What you’re looking for are the primary influencers. From there you will almost certainly find there are other sub-groupings that are fed and sustained by the main drivers.
Inner critic – self-absorbed, unkind, judgemental, fearful, saboteur, fixed
Chameleon – cowardly, people pleaser, lost, dishonest, confused, inconsistent
Complainer – judgemental, angry, condemning, victim, moody, petty
Manipulator – deceitful, fantasist, storyteller, selfish, catastrophiser, obsessive
Martyr – controlling, manipulative, attention seeker, catastrophiser, angry, victim
Attention seeker – egotistical, needy, insensitive, manipulative, jealous, vain
Aggressor – blaming, victim, explosive, cold anger, vengeful, domineering
Coward – fearful, deceitful, blaming, victim, emotionally unstable
Victim – poor me, blaming, denying, needy, resentful, saboteur
Defender – storyteller, justifying, denying, pretending, manipulative, impulsive
Procrastinator – angry, depressed, cynical, dissatisfied, afraid, indecisive
Competitor – insecure, deceitful, justifying, obsessive, impatient, overbearing
Addict – fearful, obsessive, self-absorbed, deceitful, angry, controlling
Know it all – insecure, arrogant, fearful, competitive, defensive, conceited
The child – vulnerable, manipulative, needy, attention seeker, immature, naive
Cynic – doubtful, judgemental, unkind, arrogant, moody, fixed
Overtrader – martyr, perfectionist, arrogant, controlling, pushy, overbearing
Watcher – judgemental, afraid, cowardly, arrogant, jealous, insecure
Rescuer – martyr, attention seeker, arrogant, untrusting, disempowering, saviour
Loner – unconfident, fearful, moody, cynical, self-righteous, victim
People pleaser – needy, desperate, insecure, manipulative, star, begrudging
Caretaker – controlling, star, arrogant, needy, selfish, disabling
Star – exhibitionist, manipulative, egotistical, needy, envious, overbearing
Controller – egotistical, domineering, manipulative, insensitive, afraid, impatient
Perfectionist – angry, judgemental, obsessive, controlling, arrogant, despondent
Catastrophiser – saboteur, attention seeker, manipulative, delusional, storyteller, fearful
Judge – arrogant, self-righteous, controlling, insensitive, overbearing, conceited
Saboteur – negative, pessimistic, self-absorbed, catastrophiser, spiteful, condemning
Diplomat – avoidant, people pleaser, storyteller, vain, fearful, manipulative
Survivor – manipulative, fearful, selfish, needy, desperate, relentless
It’s important to remember that the subpersonalities are originally created out of some early anxiety, mixed messages, repeated exposure to negativity, or trauma. They are established at a time when the authentic self has been battered and broken, and a fragmented self emerges out of that misfortune or trauma. Those fragments (subpersonalities) then seek ways to survive. From that point, a protective pose is adopted, and a culture of self-interest is born. As a result, cooperation, and collaboration within the community of the self are now lost.
When we come into the world, we are whole, pure, and bursting with creativity and a desire to express our authenticity and personality in the world. However, if we are not met with grace, kindness, safety, and consistency, then we are disoriented, unsure of what the world wants and expects of us. We quickly learn to become what the environment is asking of us, and what we came with slips through our fingers, and is lost. This loss of authenticity is further accelerated by neglect, abuse, and mixed messages.
If we can understand how our authenticity is lost, and an acquired self is created, we can alter the narratives of self-interest and replace them with kindness, empathy and ultimately friendship and comradery.
As you work your way through and establish who are the key players in your community, you’ll come to see they are each driven by fear, guilt, and shame… and as a result are actively seeking to protect themselves and the roles that they play. In other words, like all energy, they will do anything to survive, so unless they are offered a better paradigm, they will continue to resort to the survival mode.
A helpful way of examining and understanding the relationships between your subpersonalities is drawing circles or squares, each one representing a primary subpersonality. Then add the relevant traits. You will notice significant overlaps, where the same traits appear in multiple circles/squares. It is at these points of overlap that you find common interests and shared agendas. Seeing this visual depiction can be helpful in conceptualising the complexity of your inner landscape and deepen your understanding of the subtleties of these relationships. This is where you will find many of the clues to reconciliation and resolution.
It is where you can see the common interests and shared agendas that you can also begin to develop new, healthy narratives between the different personalities. These new narratives can form the basis of the peace treaty. The peace treaty is built on realising that the negative characteristics of the subpersonalities all have a virtuous persona. Our primary agenda is to persuade each subpersonality there is a better way; they each do have a higher purpose. When the subpersonalities can see there is a more noble cause they can pursue, then the community of the self can be established on a new footing.
In the conclusion of this trilogy, (Subpersonalities – The Peace Treaty) we will look at the virtuous characteristics of the subpersonalities, which will clarify things further, and help motivate you to create the changes needed within your community, restoring the authentic self to its rightful place, on the seat of self-respect.
“When we learn to love the ugly in ourselves, we become beautiful”.