Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

We are all made up of multiple selves. For example, have you noticed that some things that were really important to you when we were young have now become less important? We can be different at different ages – and indeed we should be different. I wouldn’t want to look at things now in the same way as I did at twenty!

When you’re twenty you care what everyone thinks; when you’re forty you stop caring what everyone thinks; when you’re sixty you realise no-one was ever thinking about you in the first place. (Winston Churchill)

This idea is one way of getting a fresh perspective. In previous blogs, I’ve looked at how you can look back at your younger self and then forward to your older self.

Both those exercises are designed to give you some perspective and the ability to judge the relative importance of events in your life. Once you’ve got that perspective it becomes easier to identify what’s truly important to you. You might also see what might (in the overall scheme of things) be relatively trivial.

Other examples of ‘multiple selves’

This is an idea explored in The 100-Year Life: we are all made up of multiple selves. They might be us at different ages. Or the multiple selves might be parts of us with different goals. Sometimes those selves disagree with each other and we end up torn between different ways of doing things.

Do you find yourself saying things like ‘on the one hand I want to go out tonight, but on the other, I want to stay in’? If so, you are experiencing two of your ‘inner selves’ disagreeing.

When we work with those different selves so that they are aligned, life becomes much easier. Indeed, in some situations, the only way to move forward is to make sure that all the different parts of ourselves are collaborating.

Another example might be selves with different time frames. One instance is our wish to eat healthily. Maybe one ‘self’ wants the pleasure of eating cake right now. Another ‘self’ is looking further ahead, to the pleasure of being able to run that 5k. If both could work together, the ‘cake-eating self’ might be able to listen to the ‘runner self’ and agree to limit cake to once a week.

Making use of our multiple selves

How would it be if you could do that? Make a note of the areas where you’re “in two minds” about something. It could be something major, like what to do with the rest of your life. Or it could be something minor, like what to have for dinner.

Take a look at the list. Are you surprised about how many situations there are that could be helped by having a united, harmonious set of voices? How much better that would be than hearing those annoying voices that whisper in our ears with contradictory ideas.

Now, against each item, make a note of what it would mean to you to be able to resolve the situation. How much could your life be improved? You could score them from 1-5, for example. Or you may want to spend a bit longer on the major items, describing how they would be easier to achieve.

Take your top priority item – the one that scored the highest just now. Think about the scenario.

  • How many voices are joining in this conversation? Two or more?
  • What is each one saying?
  • What is the conversation? Write it out like a film script.
  • Which voice says the most? Which the least? Who usually wins?
  • What insights have you had from thinking about the conversation this way?
  • If this was your team at work, how would you advise each ‘self’ to collaborate with the others?
  • How differently would the conversation go now?

Let me know at @JPCoaching who your various ‘selves’ are. Use #JPmultipleselves to join the conversation about how you’ve used this concept.

For help on reconciling your multiple selves and getting the ‘team’ to work together, contact me.