Tag Archives: sub selves

Nourishing the Different Parts of Ourselves-Part 2

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Each of the different sub selves of our personality get nourishment in different ways. The “Cowboy” I spoke of earlier likes free time, lots of fun and some thrill and excitement. Without that, he feels trapped and bored and boxed in, and he can do what anyone does in those situations, act out or depress. Tending to his needs is important in maintaining happiness.

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Other major sub selves for me are my “Artist,” my “Helper,” my “Teacher and my “Warrier.” Some seem pretty obvious, but let me share a few specifics. My “Artist” is the creative, non-linear, poetic, romantic part of my personality. He loves a good book, and listening to fine music, and writing and romance. Where my “Cowboy” wants to see an  adventure movie, my artist wants a love story or an off-beat tale to stimulate and energize. My” Cowboy” wants to drive a car fast, my “Artist” wants to lie on a rug and read poems with a lover.

My “Helper” is the minister inside me; the counselor, the fixer and the compassionate friend and citizen. My “Helper” needs significance, not so much excitement, and he needs to know he is making a difference in the world. He is the one who helps people move houses, and stops to talk with a friend who needs support, and gives what he can to charity. He is dedicated to service and returning the favor for the gifts he has received. He looks forward to situations where people are in need, so he can provide some solace and aid.

My “Teacher” is my central sub-self. He is part helper, but more educator and mentor. He is the one that taught elementary school, and does counseling workshops, and mentors young men and women who need an elder. My “Teacher” is enthusiastic about being an elder in the community and taking on the role of sharing what he knows. My “Teacher” and my “Helper” are more self-less than my “Cowboy.” They get bored when life too self-focused for a long period of time, and they need to get back to work in service to something larger than themselves.

And finally, my “Warrier,” who is the strong and willing to “do battle if necessary” with those who seek to destroy or hurt others or use people or the world badly. My “Warrior” can be seen as a bit scary and sometimes “too much,” but he is a part of me that I love and cherish. He was not understood at all in school, especially by female teachers, and had to find ways to express his strong and often loud feelings and behaviors in more appropriate ways. Of all my sub selves, this is most often the hardest one to find ways to nourish in a world becoming more gentrified and politically correct. “My “Warrier” goes to see an action movie with a bad-ass hero who fights for justice and eventually vanquishes the bad guy.

How does knowing all this help?

Nourishing all the Parts of Ourselves

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Within each of us are many sub selves which have identifiable personality characteristics. Each of these sub selves represent different energies and forces within each of us and are ways we express our personalities across a spectrum of traits. Each sub self needs an arena in which it can be expressed as well as emotional and behavioral nourishment to maintain its strength and resiliency.

There are many people who have written about archetypes and sub selves, and some say there are basic ones for all of us and other are less specific. What matters in terms of our own happiness and strength is that we are clear about the energies within us. Let me give some examples in my own life.

It seems to me that the major sub selves within me are my Artist, my Helper, my Teacher, my Cowboy and my Warrior. Each of these has a different energy and each needs different input to be nourished and different arenas in which it can express itself. Right now I am writing about myself as a man; women may have similar or different names or characteristics for their sub selves, but the most important thing is to recognize that in each of these are the psychological pillars of who we are.There may be a dark side to each of these sub selves also, but for now I want to focus on the positive aspects of each.

canstockphoto12706268Some of these sub selves are more appreciated in the world than others and some are harder to nourish than others. My Cowboy, for example, is the part of me that wants freedom, the open range, lack of domestication and lots of playfulness and guy stuff. My cowboy can live in the culture for extended periods of time, but after a while must hit the road, live with less rules, have tos and shun tedious routine.

If my Cowboy does not get a chance to be appreciated and have the space and energy he needs, he starts feeling trapped and boxed in, and may push boundaries in less healthy ways. My Cowboy was not greatly appreciated in the classroom when I was an adolescent. He was, however, appreciated in the world of drama and sports and just screwing around with my friends. My Cowboy also had a few scrapes with the law; he doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules that others demand, and very often says, “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”

When my Cowboy is nourished and has space to be, he is positive, fun, creative and expansive; without that he can become less positive. When he gets boxed in, he pushes back.

In the next few blogs, I would like to share a description of each of my sub selves so that you can begin to identify your own and make sure each has arenas in which they get appropriate input and express themselves in the world. In so doing we have more opportunities to cultivate our mental health and happiness.