Your Inner Selves



I got interested in the multiple self theory after watching a documentary on DID.  I started talking with the show's subject on social media and eventually I realized that we all have these inner selves, it's just that with us, they are all aspects of our personality.  With a person with DID, these selves have separated due to extreme trauma, usually before the age of six.


But we all have these "people" inside of us.  I realized this after searching my own personality for my own identities.  And I found several.  So I shared my findings with my husband, who then searched for his own, and he also found several.  And then I started doing research and found that this is already a thing!  It's called IFS: Internal Family Systems.  And it is its own branch of psychology.  

Funny, for a short bit, I thought I invented it, haha! 

And I'm going to share my findings with you, so you can use IFS in addition to your own therapy journey (or just check out the websites and books that are provided at the end of this post) to heal your own stuff. 

So this is how I first thought of it: So, think of your brain like a car.  The driver's seat is the part of your brain right behind your eyes, with our eyes being the windshield.  All of your people are in this car at all times.  Or at least nearby.  Usually some sleep a lot, with some being at the forefront more than others, meaning those in the driver's seat.  The sleeping ones are roused out of their sleep to take over usually due to a trigger, and when it's over, your most used persona (part) comes back to drive.  So the question is this, who you are letting drive right now?  And who comes out to drive when you're stressed?  Or when you're scared?  Or when you're panicking?  Or when you feel in complete control?  When you feel good?  Or when you feel sad?  

I gave them all names, like "the anxious one", "the tired one", "the angry one", etc.  Make a list of all the "ones" you have inside of you, from those who only shows themselves a little bit and those who show themselves constantly.  These people are all different personas from your personality.  These personas are released when triggered by something or someone.  Say, when you get around someone who makes you feel like a little kid, explore that feeling.  What is it that person triggers in you that brings out that part of yourself?  When you get around someone who makes you feel automatically irritated, explore that, too.  Why is that personality being triggered and what are they trying to protect you from?  Explore when this happens in your journal.  Explore what that part of you is feeling your feelings and why they are feeling those feelings.  Eventually after exploring the feelings that come up after you've triggered a particular persona, you can rename that persona to one that is more accurate.  Getting to know each part of your personality and why they exist in the first place is a great way to not only get to know yourself, but also heal your past.  

At first, when you explore this theory, you'll see single personalities (or selves or parts) for each type.  But eventually, you'll realize there are more than one of each, usually.  Like, I have many "anxious" ones.  I have one that disassociates when feeling bad.  I have another one, who in the midst of the worst panic attacks, will seek out shelter in a frantic way.  "Shelter" usually means a safe person, who are either of my children or my husband.  But sometimes she shows up even when I'm already with them.  This one needs to escape at any cost.  Now, she wont jump out of a moving car, but she will jump out of a car in a parking lot and will take off until she finds safety (once, my son was getting a job as a security officer and it took over two hours for him in the office and I was in the car alone and I was walking all over the parking lot trying to calm myself until he came out).  As a child, I would have horrible panic attacks being alone in my bed at night and I wasn't allowed to leave my room, so I'd have to sit there and suffer through them, which is when my disassociating started, as well as where my need to find safety stems from.  That persona, now I realize, is a child.  It's a little girl, afraid nobody will come to save her and she will die or something horrible will happen to her by being alone.  I was not only left alone at night, not allowed to leave my bed, but I was also left home alone in the middle of the night, while my mother would leave and take my dad to work.  Imagine being six, with horrible anxiety, and waking up at two in the morning after having a bad dream to find yourself utterly alone in a dark house with the back door wide open (my mother NEVER shut our back door and told me I was stupid if I did--she even said this when I was an adult).  Anyone could have been watching and entered our house after she left and either raped or murdered me (and yes, at six, I was scared of being raped, don't ask me why).  This fear followed me into adulthood.  I no longer fear being home alone, but I do fear being alone, period.  So this anxious part of me is very different from the one who panics over bridges or while in a store with too many people.  And your inner selves will also be very different, even though they may share the same issues.  

All of the aspects to our personalities stem from somewhere, which is something, after you identify them all, you can explore in your journal.  IFS says that each of these personas are there to protect us, even when they hurt others or ourselves.  Sometimes our guidance system is messed up and we choose negative coping mechanisms, but even so, we are just trying to protect a once hurt part ourselves from being hurt again.  And there is one true self (which is not a part), asides all the "protective selves", which can help integrate and heal all of the negative protective ones.  This one "true self" is when you feel the most "you", the most centered, the most calm and the most willing to listen and cooperate and has the least extreme feelings.  

And I know this "self" exists, because there have been times I have been in the middle of the most completely horrible panic attack and been able to talk myself out of it and be fine (other times, not so much).  But since I can sometimes do that, I know there is a part of me that is real and doesn't have the same issues as the ones who panic.  That is the one who should be in control of my life, rather than the anxious or sad or angry parts.  My true self once told my anxious part (one of my anxious parts) that it was not allowed to come out before surgery (it's not exactly how I put it at the time, since I didn't see it as a "part" of myself yet).  And from the time I woke up until they wheeled me out of the room to surgery, I was completely fine (ha!--so unlike me--or was it the most like me and I'm just so used to being controlled by the anxious parts?).  The moment I was wheeled out, I said to the anxious parts "Have at it.  You earned it.  You let me be fine up until now."  And the floodgates opened and I lost my ability to speak out of so much fear.  

So the idea that I can tap into my real self and put my anxious parts at bay?  I mean, wow.  That felt kind of insane when I did it.  And yet, I have no idea how it happened.  Which is why I am so happy to find IFS and study it so I can learn how to do this not only again, but do it always.  To live a life as my "true self"?  I can't even imagine what that would feel like.  

Here is my (unfinished) list of all the personas I've found so far inside of myself: 


  • Optimistic One
  • Self-Loving/Introspective One
  • Supportive One
  • Happy One
  • Connected/Concentrating One
  • Bookworm
  • Creative Soul
  • Spiritual One/At One With Everything/Mindful One
  • Empathetic One
  • Healing One
  • Mechanically Minded One (the creative thinker fixer)
  • Hard Working One
  • Knowledgeable One (knows what she's talking about)
  • Agreeable One
  • Open-Minded One



  • Angry One
  • Anxious One (of many)
  • Tired One
  • Avoidant/Silent One
  • Hyper-vigilant One
  • Self-Hating/Broken One
  • Irritated One
  • Ruminating One
  • Victim
  • Broken Child
  • Not Good Enough One
  • Abandoned One
  • Depressed/Sad One
  • "I don't want to do anything" one
  • Sick One
  • In Pain One (though this is a body state, not a mental state per say, but it eventually becomes a mental state and becomes tied to the anxious one)
  • Flustered/Unsure of Self One (usually when I'm around a narcissist)
  • Unable to Finish What I Start One 
  • Obstinate One
  • Hates Change One
  • Talks Myself Out of Things One


Once you have your own list (which you can keep building on as you go), you can see where some of the personas are the same others, and others have more than one side.  And many of mine have opposite sides, so it's like sometimes I feel I am in conflict with myself, which I would like to work on.

It's also important to remember that even your "negative" ones are there only to protect you, so in reality, none are actually negative.  We just associate negative feelings with it because they have learned immature coping mechanisms that never got resolved.  But if you can discern how they were created and who they represent (like my anxious one that flees for safety, is my "little girl lost" persona--who I think may rule over so much more than just my anxiety), your "true self" can help heal and integrate them.  

You can take all your parts that you come up with and journal about them, exploring each one as fully as you can.  You can create art with them (like below), or even create your own Soul Collage cards based on them (another amazing art medicine project!).  You can also write letters to your parts, and have them write you back (to your self).  There are so many things t
o do, but I suggest first, reading all the books you can on this and even talking to your therapist about it.  IFS is a great addition to the therapy you're already doing or as a stand alone journey.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure you keep a journal to keep track of your progress.  Good luck!

Art Medicine Project:

Make a list of all the aspects of your personality.  And ask yourself, who are these people?  Why do they surface when thy do?  What would they look like?  What are their ages?  And then paint, draw, or collage them all together in a safe space along with your "true self".  Even if they aren't healed yet, pretend they are.  What would your safe space look like?  You could even print out pictures of yourself from your various ages and use them.  Or you can cut our pics from magazines that represent your multiple selves.  Or you can draw them and paint them.  Whatever your favorite media is, use that.  And create a safe and loving having for all aspects of your personality to reside together in.  

Learn More: 



By Richard C. Schwartz PhD: 

Greater Than The Sum of Our Parts

Internal Family Systems Therapy: Second Edition

Internal Family Systems Skills Training Manual: Trauma-Informed Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, PTSD & Substance Abuse


By Jay Early:

Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness and Healing Your Inner Child Using IFS, A New, Cutting-Edge Psychotherapy (there are 3 of these I think)

Self-Therapy Workbook: An Exercise Book For The IFS Process (this is a companion book to the one above, but it's by Bonnie J. Weiss LCSW)

By Tom Holmes PhD:

Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life by Tom Holmes (2011) Paperback (cards that go with the book above) 

By Michelle Glass

Daily Parts Meditation Practice: A Journey of Embodied Integration for Clients and Therapists


By Roger Goddard

IFS Deck of Playing Cards: A Tool for Using the Internal Family Systems Approach to Overcome Problems, Understand Your Parts and Strengthen Your Core Self 


The Burdened Internal System:

The Unburdened Internal System:

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