top of page

The Dilemma Of The Chocolate Bar & The Orchestra Of Sub-Personas

Written by: Saara Iija, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


We all have many roles in life, and they present themselves in different situations. Even though we are still the same person, we have various parts of us – which we could metaphorically call ‘the orchestra.’ To be the best conductor of your orchestra, you need to know who is playing in it and their unique tunes.

Woman in tuxedo conducting with baton

Do you know your sub-personas and roles? And don’t worry; it doesn’t mean having multiple personalities, just that we have different sides of us.

And why is this important?

Because if we don’t identify our different parts, we may end up listening to one tune too intensely (our sub-personas at play) thus over-identifying with one of them. What happens next is that instead of you using them, they start using you. Ideally, you should be in the driver’s seat; the “I” who chooses and who makes decisions and not let your sub-personas take over.

The easiest way to catch our sub-personas at play is to notice when you are having a conflict with yourself. You know, the inner dialogue about whether or not to give honest feedback to your boss about their work.

Let’s take a simple example.

The lure of the chocolate bar

You are at a grocery store. You are supposed to buy groceries according to the shopping list you made at home. You pass by the candy shelf and see all the beautiful and enticing wrappers.

Your stomach growls. You know how that chocolate tastes and your body starts craving it. On the one hand, you would love to take a bite. You feel hungry and the taste of the silky chocolate is so sweet that you can almost taste it. Your mouth gets wet.

On the other hand, you know it is unhealthy and that you should go home and cook a healthy meal. Today is not a candy day.

You are having an internal conflict about whether to get the chocolate or not.

Who is at play?

There’s the one who contributed to the shopping list (which did not include chocolate, by the way) saying ‘stop,' it’s unhealthy, and today is not the day. And there’s the one who craves chocolate and can make a million good reasons to get it. This a simple example of an internal conflict.

One part of you wants the chocolate and can make excuses why you should get it. Another part of you is against getting chocolate and knows the health reasons why you shouldn’t get it.

Why this example? Because it is something that many of us can identify with (definitely myself included). It is an example of our different parts having a conflict with each other – our sub-personalities at play.

Now you are the “I” that chooses which part you will listen to. But if you are unaware of these parts, it may show up as a difficulty in making up your mind. You might more easily over-identify yourself with one of these parts.

What does over-identification look like?

Now let’s give those parts names: the craving one could be ‘Little Sugar’ and the other part ‘Health Conscious.’

If you over-identify with Little Sugar, you would most likely buy that chocolate each time you go to the store and pass the candy shelf. Then again, if you over-identify with the Health Conscious part, you would more likely never allow yourself to eat chocolate or do anything considered unhealthy.

If you think back, can you find any time when you conflicted with yourself, and it was hard to make up your mind? What was going on for you? What did you end up doing?

Bringing awareness to the parts

In the future, stop for a moment whenever you catch yourself debating with yourself.

Ask who is speaking – which part of you is the loudest and which other part is also voicing their opinion. Give these sub-personas names; it makes it easier to disidentify yourself from these sub-personas.

Welcome their contribution to your decision-making, and then take control of making an educated decision.

Each of these sub-personas contributes to who we are as a person. Each of them has a role to play and a significant contribution. Sometimes it is helpful for you, and sometimes it might be hindering you. That’s why it is crucial to know your sub-personas – to understand what your orchestra consists of. Play the tunes as you wish, and do not let one instrument go solo for too long.

Identifying sub-personas

Each sub-personas should have space to voice their opinions and concerns (what you resist persists). There are parts of you that are more dominant. There are parts of you that support your idealistic self. There might be parts of you that you are not so aware of. And there might be parts of you that you don’t recognize nor want to identify with. A part you don’t want to identify with (the repressed part) unconsciously plays its role. And hence, it can take over in some situations against your better understanding.

Meet the judge

An excellent example of this type of part is “The Judge.” No one wants to think of themselves as judgmental. And yet, as humans, we all make judgments of situations and people all the time. Now if you don’t want to see this part of yourself, you might more easily consider your judgments to be the reality and act accordingly. Then again, if you recognize The Judge in yourself, you are more capable of letting them contribute and say what they need to say without letting it be your only voice.

Let’s take an example.

You open your LinkedIn. You see someone posting and saying something about a topic that annoys you. You think to yourself: “Agh, this person – do they REALLY think that? Can’t they see the other (my) point of view? And why would they post such a picture? It takes all the credibility off of their message. How unprofessional.”

Now, if you over-identify with The Judge without better understanding, you might go on and say or write these things. Let The Judge do what they do best: rave judgments (have you ever seen an impolite rant on social media?).

But suppose you recognize The Judge in you. In that case, you might let it rave the ravings inside, but then also find compassion for the original poster and give space for all kinds of opinions and content – even if you don’t like it. You might realize there is more to the person than what you can see, and instead of judging the whole person, you might think to yourself, “Ok – their message didn’t resonate well with me, but one post is not representative of who the other person is as a whole. And even if I disagree with them about this topic, I don’t know where they come from and what is their lived experience, and hence don’t need to judge the whole person based on one post.”

The multifaceted you

Now, there is way more to sub-personas that I could describe in a short post. Maybe you found yourself in my examples; perhaps you did not. Regardless, there are more sides to each of us than just one.

There could be the boss, the employee, the parent, the partner, the carer, the perfectionist, the protector, the playful one, the victim, the intuitive one, the critic, the firefighter, etc.; the list goes on. Some parts align with our idealistic selves, and some don’t (often the repressed parts).

To know ourselves and respond in every situation, instead of reacting, we need to be aware of who is playing in our orchestra.

If this resonates with you, I invite you to take a moment with each of your “orchestra members” to hear their tunes and what they like to play. By getting to know your different sides, you become more self-aware and can choose how you respond to situations rather than just reacting.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Saara Iija, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Saara Iija is an intuitive corporate trainer and leadership coach, specializing in developing high-functioning individuals and teams, by focusing on communication, team dynamics and professional growth. Her experience in the fast-paced corporate life (FinTech50) has shown her how people can make or break a business, and the difference is in communication and culture. She values creativity, growth, diversity, and adventure, which all come across in her trainings and coaching. Her ultimate goal is to empower and inspire people to thrive in the face of change. Today Saara is a co-founding partner of LAUMA Growth Group, a people development company teaching communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page