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Human beings are multidimensional. We have different parts of ourselves. If you have ever said something like, “Part of me feels like…” or “Part of me wants to…”, you know what I’m talking about.

Most of the time, having different parts of ourselves is a good thing. We encounter many different types of situations in our lives. We need to be flexible to engage each situation effectively. Sometimes, however, one or more parts of ourselves are underdeveloped. When this happens, we might not be able to be as effective as we could be.

3 Key Personas

So what parts of ourselves are necessary to develop? Here are 3 key personas you absolutely must develop if you want to be effective in life.

Persona #1: The Caretaker

In normal development, the caretaker often comes online first. The caretaker’s main job is to meet your needs. When you are a baby, your primary caregiver steps in and plays this role. For example, if you are hungry, the caretaker feeds you. If you are sad, the caretaker whispers in your ear and rocks you so you can calm down. Eventually, in normal development, you develop the caretaker inside yourself, and you are able to self-soothe and meet your own needs. When the caretaker is underdeveloped, you either (1) fail to meet your own needs or (2) swing the other way and over-indulge (whether it is with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.).

Persona #2: The Drill Sergeant

The drill sergeant develops to keep the caretaker in check. The drill sergeant is all about discipline, willpower, and control. Again, when you are young, your primary caregivers play this role for you. They use rewards and punishments to keep your behavior in line. Eventually, however, you develop the drill sergeant inside yourself. You can develop discipline and willpower on your own. You are able to give up what you want right now, in order to get what you really want long-term.

Persona #3: The Negotiator

The negotiator tries to balance between the caretaker and the drill sergeant. The negotiator utilizes wisdom and tactics to bring about the most effective solution for your life at that particular moment. The negotiator asks questions such as what is reasonable or balanced? The negotiator often comes online later in human development, and many adults have an underdeveloped negotiator. When the negotiator is underdeveloped, people swing back and forth between overindulging (i.e., the caretaker) and over-control (i.e., the drill sergeant).

What Does the Situation Demand?

Healthy individuals have well-developed caretakers, drill sergeants, and negotiators. They are able to bring each persona online as the situation demands it. Are you over-worked and need a break? Did you make a mistake and need to forgive yourself? You probably need the caretaker. Are you feeling lazy and need to get back on track? Need to set a boundary? You probably need the drill sergeant? Are you trying to find a win-win solution with a friend or colleague? You probably need the negotiator.

Discussion

Spend some time thinking about how you usually engage other people and the world. Which of the 3 personas do you feel most comfortable with? For me, it’s the caretaker. I tend to get uncomfortable with conflict and try to keep the peace. But if I do that too long, I get angry and the drill sergeant comes online. Sometimes this is helpful, but not if I lose my cool. I’ve been working to develop the negotiator, so I can bring this persona online more quickly and easily. What about you? Which persona is underdeveloped? How could you work to access this part of yourself?

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