Examples of Headmates

Ok, what does a headmate look or act like?

Here’s a bunch of examples.

The point of the following example is given to show that, if a feeling, emotion, or thing that makes you procrastinate is fully explained by ‘not doing what you want’, it may not be a headmate.

If you go, “I know that I want to study, but this subagent just wants to get a snack from the fridge, so this subagent/headmate must have different values than me, and that’s why I was procrastinating”, be careful. For an overwhelming majority of people, wanting to study is almost certainly not a value they came to by listening to all their emotions and acting on them. It was a default path they fell into. I suspect that many (but not all) people who assert they enjoy school are saying something about the usefulness (not the match with their values) of being in school, or haven’t looked into other ways of satisfying their values much. So, check if the thing could be explained by you being confused about what you wanted, such that you’re not actually doing what any of your subagents want.

As opposed to the above, an example where the subagents model actually adds something is:

If you go, “I love my work and want to do some more, but this subagent just wants to get a snack from the fridge, must be different values”, this is basically right, with a caveat. By definition, we’re saying you love your work, so check, you’re doing what you want there. But if you have some desire to procrastinate, there’s at least one sense in which you’re not doing what you want.

So, the way to figure this out, is to see if you have a headmate who is doing what they want, but that you’re still procrastinating.

Let’s talk about procrastination. Gaming, reading fanfic, snacking, reddit, you know the deal. I would advise: don’t fight this feeling directly, ever. It’s just a sign that you’re not doing what at least one part of you wants.

When I was just learning about headmates, it seemed like Sylvee, my headmate who was oriented towards self love and hadn’t really formed a discrete personality or chosen a name yet, literally just valued being lazy and procrastinating. Wrong. Procrastination isn’t a value in itself. Rather, procrastination means you’re (probably inadvertently) censoring a part of yourself, and that that part of yourself shut you off in response.

My two headmates are Jay and Sylvee. I’m sort of a compromise between the two of them. Sylvee seems to have needs along the lines of, “satisfy my Maslow’s hierarchy needs”, and Jay seems to have needs along the lines of “I want to stop as much suffering as possible”. And like, Jay is agender, Sylvee is female, and Jay communicates by talking. Sylvee prefers to communicate by showing an emotion, having Jay make a verbal guess about what she means, and then being like “cold, warm, or hot” and then having Jay make another guess, until the two of us have both figured out what she means.

On her subagents, a friend writes about having several different ones:

Like Sometimes I care about my relationships
Sometimes I care about becoming stronger so I can save the world
Sometimes I care about having nice things and things to do for fun
Sometimes I feel a strong need for attention from one of my partners
(the above are approximate examples and not exhaustive)

which is another valid way subagents can be. This brings up an interesting point, though.

Some people have the experience of having more than two headmates, like the friend quoted above who has (at least) four. Such people can use all of the mental tech from Parts I-III of this blog, and I don’t want to imply that it’s at all bad to have more than two headmates. But, there’s something interesting to say here.

This will assume that you know what it means to fuse two subagents together. The quick summary of that link is that, if two subagents/headmates want the same thing, they can become one headmate if there’s no emotional trauma in the way. For me, fusion of subagents happens automatically in the background if I’m doing mindfulness meditation, so I can’t really set out a list of steps to follow to fuse subagents. Anyways.

The last post talked about how headmates either care only about self love (think Maslow’s hierarchy needs), which can manifest as anything from being a benign (or positive) hypercompetent person, to being actively predatory, to breaking down your ability to think in order to (not necessarily as a consciously endorsed strategy) seem like less of a threat to others. Or, they care about other love (reduce suffering, or increase flourishing), which can manifest as anything from singlehanded determination to unilaterally save the world, to getting pwned and thinking that white people care about nonviolent resistance and will change their opinions if you do it, and then spending your life doing nonviolent resistance.

Anyways, the point is that self love headmates can always fuse with other self love headmates. And other love headmates can always fuse with other other love headmates. And if you have a headmate who is part self love and part other love oriented, you can split them apart and have each of the sub-headmates from the split fuse with other like-minded headmates.

That’s why I often talk as if people only have two headmates. My experience is that some people (most, actually) don’t have any other love headmates, so I guess they might be able to learn all of the mental tech from Parts I-III and fuse into just having one person in their head, though I’ve yet to have anyone like that read this blog and then tell me they fused into one person.

Anyways, it’s not shameful to have whatever configuration of headmates you have.

Next Post: Learning What a Headmate Wants