From the very beginning of our life we encounter problems that we try to find solutions to. Even a new-born baby needs to do this, for example in order to establish contact with key persons so that the baby´s basic needs can be met. The surrounding, the situations and one´s basic personality make us develop different strategies for solving these perceived problems. Repetition and feed-back develop these strategies over time, until they are built up by whole clusters of specific reactions, emotions, thoughts, beliefs - full-blown subpersonalities start to emerge.

Subpersonalities are activated subconsciously

A specific Subpersonality (SP) is activated by the type of situation we encounter, when the situation in some ways remind of or are similar to an situation early in life, the one that was the starting-point for the formation of the SP. Most SP can easily be made conscious by introspection and reflection, they belong to our every-day life and are basically positive and functional, like "The parent", "The Professional", "The Buddy", "The Partner", etc. These SP generally do not create problems or inner conflicts, unless they are "used" (i.e. we identify with this part of ourselves) in "wrong" situation.

Open and concealed parts of us

Other SPs can be conscious but hidden from others, like for example "The Adventurer", "The Rebel", "The Seeker". Other SPs again can be completely subconscious and inaccessible t awareness even for oneself, like "The Inner Child", "The Critic". These hidden and/or subconscious SP can sometimes create problems, like inner conflicts, way of acting that one doesn´t recognize or understand, sudden bursts of emotions, etc.

Subpersonalities have all both positive and negative aspects, they have wants and needs that sometimes can collide with other SPs´, that can have completely different beliefs, different maps of reality. SPs also often have unique resources, that are valuable in certain situations.

The process towards self-knowledge and inner growth

The goal of Psychosynthesis is to help us become aware of all parts of ourselves, and to integrate all parts into a integrated, well-functioning, held-together personality, characterized by maturity and integrity. To help us experience that we are more than the sum of our SPs: in the center of our psyche there is a central "I", which in itself is not a SP, but rather a clear center of Observation and "clean" Will. An "I" from which we like an orchestra conductor lead the different SPs, like the individual musicians, to "play the same tune", but with different "instruments".

This inner development process contains following distinct steps:

• Acceptance: Becoming aware of hidden or obscure SP, but without judging, just observing, becoming aware of how and when these SP are activated, their constructive and/or destructive aspects. Reaching the insight that these SP exist and that they cannot be (and should not be) eliminated, rather that they can (and should) be nurtured and developed.

• Co-operation: Finding the ability to create an inner dialogue between different SP, in order to reach mutual understanding, respect and agreement about co-operation. That each SP understands that other SP can be valuable in certain situations, that they can need help in others.

• Alignment: Starting to find the ability to "align" what the different SP want, from the base of mutual acceptance and respect of each SP's different needs, and starting to align their different wills towards the same goal. A goal that in the best way possible meets the needs of all SPs, a goal that activates the persons journey towards his/her Visions, making it possible for the person to find his/her individual Life Path.

• Integration: Developing the co-operation and the alignment of inner goals, such that the SPs start to act as a team, automatically. A team acting as a well-trimmed group, forcefully, flexibly adapted to each situation.

• Synthesis: Finally reaching a level of integration that the different SPs that they together start to form a basic personality, starting to merge into each other, such that a synthesis of each SPs abilities, qualities and strengths develops and deepens.

Inner growth

'This inner development process happens for most of us spontaneously, by itself, driven by "the school of life". It can be completely subconscious and is then experienced by oneself and others as what we call "becoming mature", not only age-wise but becoming truly "grown-up".

Sometimes we may though be benefited by getting help in activating this inner development process, with the help of therapy, coaching, mentorship or other types of support, depending on situation and on the phase of life we are in.

Subpersonalities can have very different personalities

In working with one's subpersonalities, especially in the Acceptance phase, it may be valuable to assess the basic personality type of specific subpersonalities. This can be done with a tool available on the Psychosyntesis Forum site, the Elementity Test ( When purchasing the Elementity test, you will be able to do the test twice, thus you will be able to assess the Elementity of two of your subpersonalities for each purchase of the test. If you do this, it may be valuable to select two dominant subpersonalities and two that form a "dipole", i.e. have very differing core beliefs and basic needs.

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Author's Bio: 

Lars Gimstedt, Psychosynthesis Therapist, Life Coach