You and your subpersonalities
Think of a time when you’ve been faced with a decision and you’ve said to yourself: “yes, I definitely want to do that”. And then another inner voice says: “well, hold-on. I think we need to take a different path”. Who’s talking to whom? And who’s listening to the both of them?
We all have multiple subpersonalities: certain personas and characteristics we adopt in different circumstances, depending on how we see ourselves and how we wish to be seen.
If I asked you to introduce yourself, most of us would reply with our first identity: our name. “Hi. I’m Dan Beverly.” But at other times, our response might be different.
- “I’m Johnny’s dad. I’m here to pick him up.”
- “I’m a cousin of the groom. How do you know the happy couple?”
- “Let me through. I’m a doctor.”
None of these descriptions are who we really are; rather, they are superficial, temporary identifications. But they are nevertheless parts of ourselves that we identify with at a given moment.
Depending on the context: that subpersonality might be helpful; and it might be hindrance.
Accessing our resources
Each of our subpersonalities comes with its own characteristics, needs and gifts. And with increased awareness, we can begin to make conscious choices about which subpersonalities we want to have show-up: at work; for an important meeting; to conduct a difficult conversation; to give a public speech.
Being able to choose a subpersonality grants us access to those other parts of ourselves that may be more useful – resourceful / creative / resilient / courageous / spontaneous / whatever – in that moment. Better than dropping into a subpersonality on autopilot, driven by circumstance.
Subpersonalities for performance
Awareness of our subpersonalities takes time and honest self-reflection. So I’m just going to suggest we let these ideas sit for a while. Reflect on your subpersonalities. And if you’re able, start to name some of them and acknowledge what they bring. Which are most useful? Which are becoming disruptive? Under what circumstances do they show up?
When it comes to a peak performance moment, think about the subpersonalities needed for success. The character and qualities that will give you focus, drive, motivation and confidence. From there, it’s about making it a conscious choice:
- Who do I choose to be in this moment?
- Which version of myself will give me the best chance of success?
Self-awareness for performance improvement
Developing a heightened awareness of our subpersonalities can help us access our more resourceful states, leading to different behaviours and so different results.
To do all this is to achieve a state of self-mastery – not easily done. But just by reflecting on our subpersonalities and bringing these other sides of ourselves into conscious awareness, we can improve our performance.