I want to begin this post with an important question: what’s taking up residence in you?
Or, better yet, what are you allowing to take up residence in you?
What does this question really mean?
— If you prefer: to listen to this post as a podcast episode, click here: Inner Work Ep. 8
Essentially, your physical body is like an energetic container. You might also think of your body as the house or residence for your Soul… since you’re a Soul having a human experience.
And there’s a certain amount of energetic space inside your physical body.
In the spiritual world, we often talk about emptying ourselves out. On the path of awakening, it’s so important to empty yourself of:
- ego thoughts
- judgments of self & others
- intrusive mental chatter
- baggage from the past
- anything else that might get in the way of feeling whole, connected, and receptive
So often, you can fill up your “container” – i.e., your physical body and energy field – with unhelpful, distracting, intrusive things.
You must become aware of intrusive thoughts and narratives, because your brain is constantly looking to define things, to explain things, to rationalize, to make sense of the world. Sometimes this can get out of hand, and your brain – or ego mind, more specifically – can start to drive you crazy. Especially if you’re someone who tends to overthink and sometimes overcomplicate things at the mental level.
Your Internal Guest House
So, what happens when you fill up your energetic container with distracting, limiting, or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs? Or with baggage from the past? Or with worried thoughts about the future?
There’s no room left for your Higher Self to enter.
Your Higher Self, and all of your highest aspects – including your compassion, patience, empathy, hope, unconditional love, and peace – need space in your body, in your mind, and in your energy field to be able to reside there.
It really is like having multiple guest rooms in your house. If you allow negative, violent, toxic, passive aggressive people to live in those rooms, then your entire house is going to have a dense energy.
Stop for a second and consider: who and what are you allowing to live in your internal guest rooms? What are you making room for inside yourself? And what are the consequences of that?
If you fill up your guest rooms with angry, demanding, judgmental “guests”, then there is no room in your so-called house for your Higher Self to reside.
An important task on the spiritual path is to keep your guest rooms unoccupied, to make space in them for your Higher Self to enter. This is when you can fully begin to embody your Higher Self as you anchor its energy in your physical vessel.
In Akashic Records work, when clients have issues with this, I often see an image of their Higher Self as a beam of white light hanging out above their heads, above the crown chakra. The Higher Self is kind of waiting in line, because there isn’t enough space in the person’s body and energy field for the Higher Self to fully drop and anchor into the body.
The good news is that you’ve never lost contact with your Higher Self. This part of you continues to move with you and be with you no matter what. But sometimes it can stay in this mode of hovering above you and finding no space to enter.
This is what happens when you’ve filled up your guest rooms with lower-frequency guests or energy, which block the entrance and embodiment of your Higher Self.
Subpersonalities Taking Up Space In You
Let’s talk about the kinds of guests or energies you might be allowing to take up residence in you with negative effects and consequences.
To do this, we can refer to the concept of subpersonalities. A subpersonality is one fragmented aspect of you, or one limited part of you. We’re all made up of different parts, and these parts are often in conflict with each other.
For example, you might have a subpersonality that really likes to drink wine to excess, because this subpersonality’s agenda is to escape reality or to numb your feelings. You might have another subpersonality that wants you to be restrained and to stop drinking wine, so it makes you feel ashamed in the morning, or it talks down to you, or it scolds you very harshly like an inner critic or inner judge.
You can see how these two subpersonalities would constantly clash, because they have opposing agendas and desires for you. This can create very painful and distressing inner fragmentation.
These subpersonalities are the guests that, if allowed, take up space in your internal guest rooms. These are the guests that can prevent your Higher Self from dropping fully into your body. They can also create significant suffering and even sabotage or delay your healing.
What are some common subpersonalities that block your Higher Self and sabotage your healing? Let’s look at a few examples.
(By the way, we could also define these subpersonalities as shadow archetypes, since they can erupt in unexpected and destructive ways when we are in a triggered, emotional, or stressed state.)
You might relate to this one if you have a type A personality or identify as a go-getter. The Overachiever is typically present if you’ve consciously or unconsciously adopted a coping mechanism of achieving to feel good about yourself or to prove your worth and value.
As the name implies, this subpersonality keeps you on a treadmill of achievement. It constantly and forcefully drives you to achieve… and it’s never enough. This subpersonality might also fuel feelings of inadequacy when you fail to achieve something.
This subpersonality can be quite harsh and punishing, because the Overachiever believes you need harshness and punishment to keep you going and keep you achieving.
How the Overachiever sabotages your healing:
- by making you feel inadequate about your progress
- by making you doubt your worth and value
- by making you feel you’re not good enough
- by keeping you stuck on that treadmill of achievement
- by preventing you from resting, slowing down, and taking time for yourself
The Victim can be very challenging to work with. People with a strong Victim subpersonality are often not willing to acknowledge it, or might be unable to acknowledge it because they’re so identified with being the Victim.
The Victim convinces you that people are out to get you, or that there’s something in your past or present that is victimizing you and that you’ll never be able to overcome.
The Victim also likes to blame others for our present circumstances, because this allows us to avoid taking ownership of our own lives and choices. Someone who is totally identified with the Victim subpersonality is typically unable to perceive or feel their Higher Self.
This subpersonality, in particular, blocks the Higher Self from taking up residence in the body. So it’s important to be vigilant about this subpersonality and notice how you feel, speak, and act when it is triggered.
If you find yourself trying to explain to everyone in detail how you’ve been harmed or hurt by someone else, by the past, or by some experience, this could be a strong indicator of the Victim taking up residence in you. If you have feelings of hopelessness, disconnection, vengefulness, or very strong resentment against someone who you believe has harmed you, this is also an indicator of the Victim being activated.
How the Victim might sabotage your healing:
- by holding on to grudges and preventing you from letting things go
- by making you feel victimized, hopeless, and weak
- by making you feel as though everyone/the world is out to get you
- by replaying painful or traumatic memories of the past over and over
- by making you believe that no one has ever suffered as much as you (and that you must prove this to others)
The Fixer is like the opposite side of the Victim. The Fixer subpersonality is constantly trying to find situations and people to fix. This is a distraction because it allows us to not have to look at ourselves or deal with our own stuff by supposedly helping others.
The Fixer is the subpersonality that tends to jump in to rescue others, to give advice even when no one is asking for it, to compulsively try to organize and fix other people’s lives. This is a massive drain on your energy, which prevents your Higher Self from anchoring in your body.
Additionally, the Fixer’s compulsive behavior takes other people’s agency away from them. In jumping in to fix or rescue someone else, the Fixer prevents them from making their own choices and mistakes. This robs others of precious opportunities for growth.
How the Fixer might sabotage your healing:
- by giving all of your energy to others
- by keeping you focused on others’ issues instead of your own
- by making others dependent on you
- by making you believe your needs don’t matter and that others must always come first
If you have any form of anxiety, this subpersonality will be very familiar to you.
The Worrier wants to avoid, prevent, or solve problems before they happen, so it worries constantly. The Worrier worries about the future, about the meeting you have next week, about your health, about paying the bills, about your taxes, about your kids or parents, about the state of the world. There are endless things for the Worrier to fixate on, which drains your energy.
The Worrier is unable to trust. It needs to have evidence or concrete proof of things before it can relax. This lack of trust means that you can’t fully merge with your Higher Self when the Worrier is living within you, because trust is an essential part of living from your inner guidance and merging with your Higher Self.
How the Worrier sabotages your healing:
- by blocking your ability to trust and surrender
- by filling you with doubt, worry, anxiety, and dread
- by making you think about and try to solve problems before they even happen
- by making you feel scared and uncertain about everything
THE CONTROL FREAK
As you can imagine, the Control Freak wants to control everything and everyone – otherwise it doesn’t feel safe.
The Control Freak is especially activated in those of us with obsessive compulsive disorders, or those of us who can’t rest or feel ok until we’ve straightened everything up and put everything in order.
In some ways, of course, being neat and organized is wonderful and necessary. Having a clean, organized space can be very beneficial for our mental health. But, at the same time, we can go overboard with this. It becomes a problem when we fixate on a tiny little mess and can’t feel safe or ok internally until we’ve cleaned it up.
I have this subpersonality myself, so in the last couple of years I’ve experimented with noticing tiny messes around the house… and just leaving them. Even if it’s just leaving it alone for one hour, or a couple of hours, or overnight – and then taking care of it later. This waiting period gives me the chance to practice NOT having to clean and organize everything immediately, and to notice that I can still feel safe and happy regardless of the tiny mess.
I believe that we’re truly free when we can sustain our inner peace no matter what’s going on around us – so this has been a very good exercise for me. I encourage you to try this if you have a strong Control Freak subpersonality.
How the Control Freak might sabotage your healing:
- by making you focus obsessively on tiny details that don’t matter
- by making you feel unsafe unless you can control everything & everyone
- by making you believe you know more than others (or are better than others)
- by distracting you from your feelings and issues by fixating on the external environment (e.g., your house, car, the laundry, etc)
THE APPROVAL SEEKER
This subpersonality is constantly monitoring how others are responding to us. It’s thirsty for external validation.
The problem with the Approval Seeker is that its need for validation might be quenched for a few minutes or hours right after we get someone’s approval… but soon enough the Approval Seeker pops up to say, hey! It’s been X hours since someone validated us. I’m not sure we’re still ok and good and smart and competent. Let’s try to find approval somewhere else, just to make sure!
It’s an endless cycle. I often see this subpersonality playing out in couples, especially if one person in the relationship feels insecure and is constantly asking their partner for reassurance. I’ve been on both sides of this dynamic, and it’s no fun on either end.
The Approval Seeker keeps you stuck in a four-step loop of (1) feeling shitty about yourself, (2) getting some validation and feeling ok for a while, (3) inevitably experiencing some insecurity again, which (4) drives you to seek out more validation.
How the Approval Seeker sabotages your healing:
- by making you believe you’re not worthy unless others approve of you
- by making you dependent on others’ opinions of you
- by constantly driving you to seek reassurance & validation
- by making you doubt your worthiness and ability to heal
What Are You Allowing?
So, what to do with all of this?
How can you create enough space in yourself so you can merge with your Higher Self, move forward, and heal?
I encourage you to write this important question on a post-it or index card: What am I allowing to take up residence within me?
Put this question up at your desk, on your nightstand, on the fridge, in the car, in as many places as you can. Being reminded of the question often will trigger you, in a good way, to pause and reflect.
Ask yourself, at different moments of the day, what are you allowing to take up residence within you?
Is the Overachiever taking over? Or the Approval Seeker? Or the Victim?
Are you welcoming these guests consciously, or are they hijacking you?
Of course, we don’t want to demonize, suppress, or hate any of these subpersonalities – they’re not harming you on purpose. They’re simply unconscious parts of you, running on automatic patterns of thought and behavior.
If you can mindfully notice when these subpersonalities get activated and gracefully lead them to the front door of your house, you can begin to create more space internally for the aspects and parts of you that you do want to experience and cohabitate with, including your Higher Self.
You can use the same question – what am I allowing to take up residence in me? – to reflect on a prior situation or interaction. After an argument with your spouse or family member, once you’ve cooled off and can reflect on it, look back at the situation and ask, hmm, what subpersonality was triggered in that moment? Who was running the show and living within me, driving my behavior and words? How would that situation have turned out differently, or felt differently, if I had allowed my Higher Self to lead?
Ultimately, the goal is to live more and more from the energy and perspective of your Higher Self… to allow your Higher Self to become fully integrated into you and anchored in your human body.
2 thoughts on “6 Subpersonalities That Might Be Sabotaging Your Healing”
Brilliant! One of the best things I’ve ever read. Comprehensive and enormously insightful. Thank you!
Hi Mary! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and let me know it resonated with you. Your kind words are truly appreciated and I’m so glad you got something out of my writing!