Multiple Personas, One Person

Q. At times I experience myself as a child or have dreams of myself as a child. I have also noticed that I have a range of different “personalities” or reactions in me.

A. There is a very tough part of me and there is a vulnerable me. There is a part of me that is very athletic and another part that is more passive and loves to just sleep on the couch. I can be funny in some situations and very serious in others.

At times I don’t know “who” will speak or show up. I don’t know how to deal with all of these ways of being and knowing who I really am.

Psychologists have recognized this phenomenon that you are describing quite well for decades. Certain translators of the Bhagavad Gita have suggested that the different characters in the story are various aspects of each one of us. We are indeed complex and contradictory beings, struggling to know who we really are.

The truth is we are not simply one part. We are indeed the sum of many parts, which at times can feel fragmented and at other times connected and cohesive.

Your awareness about how you are in different situations and at different times is valuable.

First start by creating an inner space to allow these different parts to be seen. You can do this by bringing awareness to each of your parts/sides/personas. As you delve into each one, you will discover yourself in these parts more fully.

Some of the themes and memories will be new, pleasant and interesting and others will be painful, confusing and difficult to accept. To be a whole person means incorporating the full range of ourselves, not only what we like or is societally acceptable. As you get to know these parts more fully, you’ll see how they each have their place and purpose in your life. They also transform as you keep working with them over time.

Some people enjoy having these personas converse with each other. They realize that they are actually in a relationship with each other and form a kind of constellation of sub-parts. For example the lazy part might be in reaction to the driving, critical part. The critical part could be a negative inner parent and the vulnerable child in reaction to the inner parent. Thus, there is a kind of story worth discovering and telling.

This practice of making all of us conscious helps develop a fuller and more aware person, who can also start to make choices and direct these different parts to interact in a healthier and more synergistic way.

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com

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