Levels of the Self


This section includes information about:

The Divided Self, Subpersonalities, The Personal Self, The Higher Self, and the Synthesis of all together




The Divided Self

Many things in life become clearer when we realise that there are different levels of consciousness. For forgiveness work it is useful to recognise three of these levels - the Higher Self, the Personal Self, and the Subpersonalities. Subpersonalities are "parts" or "little selves" within our personalities, clusters or patterns of beliefs, feelings, attitudes, expectations, imaginings, emotional reactions if the expectations are not met, and styles of behaviour. They each consist of patterns we developed when we were younger at times when one or other of our basic needs were not being met adequately, and some of them are roles we play in life. If you look at the list of basic needs (these are given after the description of Makikh in the section on Goodwill Patterns) you will be able to see that you and those around you may think, feel, imagine, and behave quite differently when certain needs - e.g. for food, sleep, approval, love, freedom etc., are not met.

These can be quite compartmentalised and even in conflict sometimes. A person may say "I need to stop smoking, but I go on doing it". Or, "I need to change my job, but I can't because I'm too scared of unemployment". "I want you to be a man my son, - but don't answer me back!". The "I"s in these sentences seem to come from separate "selves", or parts of a divided personality. In the roles of pedestrians and drivers, doctors and patients, teacher and student, son or daughter and parent, public and private personae, and so on, you can often see the compartmentalised "little selves" , which are not always in harmony with each other.

All subpersonalities have basically good intentions. The Inner Striver often seeks to win approval from internalised parents if love and approval were given by the real parent figures mostly or only for achievement. The Inner Critic seeks to make the person conform to an internalised set of rules or "shoulds" that the person as a child had to conform to, in order to win love and approval from parents or peer group. The Inner Saboteur seeks to keep you safe by preventing you from taking risks. The Inner Victim (and the Perpetrator) need acceptance, unconditional love and recognition. The Inner Depressor seeks to remind you when you have strayed too far from the purposes of the Higher Self.

But these parts can become unbalanced if one or a few dominate the personality, as if one instrumentalist dominated an orchestra and played out of tune and time with the others. Our life can seem to be organised around these patterns as if they were all that we are.


The Personal Self

There is another centre within our fields of consciousness which is called the observing part of the personal self or observing self. This is the part that can step back from the action and first of all observe what is going on in both the outer life and the inner life of the personality. It is here that the will is discovered, the capacity to make conscious choices and actualise them. As long as the person is controlled by forces from the level of the unconscious mind , true willing is not possible. Disidentification from (that is, no longer being identical with), by observing, understanding and harmonising of the subpersonality level is therefore an essential first step in discovery of the will and taking charge of your life. Thus developing an "observing self" is necessary in order to develop the "conscious willing self" .


The Higher Self

Your Higher Self (fuller description comes later), your personal self, and subpersonalities can be thought of as being like the Composer, conductor, and players of an orchestra. For the best results, they all need to be aligned with the Spirit of the Music, the essence of the inspiration within the composer. Psychosynthesis has evolved many techniques for helping you to recognise, appreciate, mature and harmonise the different aspects of your personality.

There are many other analogies, with similar basic pattern of:

1. Cause (Inspiring Impulse),

2. Organising centre (observing self and directing Will), and

3. Manifestation (actualising parts) in harmony with each other.


Other examples could include:


The Impulse to Freedom, -> the general, -> the armed forces in all their parts.

Without an adequate cause to fight for, the army becomes disorganised and perishes.

The Impulse to Synthesis, joining peoples together, leading to the spirit of the United Nations, and of air communication, drawing forth on one side the designers (like Leonardo da Vinci, Orville and Wright, down to the designers and manufacturers of modern airliners), and on to the overall airline director, the managers, pilots, ground staff and aircrew, the radio, radar and computer linkups, the office staff, the travel agents, and the aeroplanes themselves with all their many parts.

The Impulse to Revealing Knowledge of Truth, calling forth the great scientific researchers (like the Curies, Darwin, or Watson and Crick) and the universities, laboratories and staff.


The Higher Self of each (the individual and the organisations) is the source of the vision, resonating to the higher impulses to which each is attuned. It been said, "Without a vision, the people perish". The Inner source of inspiration, energies and qualities is vital.

The human psyche is very similar to an orchestra, and cannot fulfil its potential until all the Musicians (subpersonalities) are present, matured and harmonised, directed by a skilled Conductor (personal self), and attuned to the highest inspirations of the Composer (Higher Self).

Vivian King (email address <Vivianking@aol.com> is soon to publish a well-written book "Inner Theatre" which uses the metaphor of the Playwright, Director and Actors in a similar way to show the relationship between the Higher Self, the Personal Self and the Subpersonalities.

Understanding the levels of consciousness and your subpersonalities is an important part of your personal growth. It cannot be dealt with fully in one short seminar. My goal here is to interest you in searching further for yourself this fascinating and vitally important subject, for it will lead on to a deeper understanding of the nature of your Self and your Will. It will increase your understanding of the different levels of the psyche, and the very different levels of love, will and wisdom that are available on each.

The important feature of subpersonalities for the purposes of this workshop is that we recognise that a person who is offending you (i.e. is out of harmony) is usually trapped in one subpersonality that is not all of who they are, but just a pattern that evolved at a time in their lives when their needs were not met. And your reaction to their behaviour, and eventual need to forgive them, may be based in the same dynamic - your unmet needs.

These understandings help us to become less critical of ourselves and others, and to restore the flow of compassionate love. Now let us consider the Will, the instrument of the Self.


Link here to go on to: The Will & the Mind

Link here to return to: Forgiveness Programme - Contents

In case you want to go to other parts of the Introductory Section this part of the Contents page is given again here:

These three articles are to help to prepare you to use the processes

The Need for forgiveness and the Purpose of using a Forgiveness Process

The Healing Journey

Demythologising forgiveness - truths and untruths

This article is to help you to find out whom you may need to forgive in order to become "clear"

Getting your Forgiveness Agenda

These five articles are to assist you with theoretical background related to the psychosynthesis framework for human development, and the way our bodies, emotions, minds, and souls can work together. You may also like to refer to them if you are not clear about the way some of the terms are used

Emotional Health - Feelings & befriending the so-called negative emotions

Levels of the Self

The Will & the Mind

Higher Self and some thoughts on Meditation

Psychological Laws

This article introduces the Aramaic words from the Code of Conduct of mind-sets which lead to right human relationships. Combined with the Forgiveness Processes, and Clear Communication skills this is a most powerful combination for bringing the ability to love into your life.

Patterns of Unconditional Love in Action - The Goodwill Patterns