Learning What A Headmate Wants

Headmates can be nonverbal, and some won’t even communicate at all, other than to e.g. throw a procrastination tantrum when they aren’t getting something they need. How do you figure out what a headmate wants, how do you talk to it? So you can use its power to think and act, rather than to work against you? Different things work for different people. I’ll list a bunch below.

  • Talk to the headmate out loud, e.g. ask them a question and see if they respond with either an emotion or words of their own.
  • Give your non-dominant hand a pen, and let it write or draw whatever it wants. (I tried this while writing this post, and I drew two female MLP characters kissing, much to my surprise. Which caused me to be like, yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing my gf tomorrow, which was something I hadn’t realized Sylvee was so excited for).
  • Do normal mindfulness meditation and see if that helps you figure out what your headmate(s) wants. But don’t drag this one out if it doesn’t help in the first 20 minutes.
  • I imagine that writing, or sitting down and working out cost-benefit analyses, might help people with more verbally oriented headmate(s).
  • Spending a bit in a hot bath/shower/hot tub is excellent.
  • Write something with one hand, try writing a response with the other hand, and repeat indefinitely. Try to frame it like you’re having a conversation.
  • In general, play and art may be helpful

If you try a given strategy for more than 20 minutes and aren’t able to get anything, that means further efforts at said strategy won’t do much for you, so try a few things from this list and see what sticks.

Note that you can combine strategies and just see what works. For example, I was recently trying “give your non-dominant hand a pen and let a quiet headmate use it to draw or write”, combined with “talk out loud to your headmate”. Basically I asked her out loud what she wanted, she was like “gayyy <3”, I asked out loud if she wanted to express how gay she was, and she sent me back a feeling, “warm, but not hot on that”, I asked her if she wanted to hang out with her gf, and she was like “YESSSS, gayyyy <3″, and then I knew I’d gotten it right.

So, I guess I must be gay for girls or something? 😀

The second time I tried the strategy in the above paragraph, I took a video of it, which you can see here. It feels very personal for me to share that, since Sylvee was in a lot of pain when we did it. But, I think it’s very Real, and like I got a lot of good communication with Sylvee in the first 6 minutes of the video.

There may be a hemisphericity to this, in the sense that left-hemisphere dominant people trying to connect to a right hemisphere headmate might want to try the drawing/play type ideas. The stereotype here is that right hemispheres control the left half of the body, and are better at drawing, knowing who your friends are, and expression, and left hemispheres control the right half of your body, and control language. Sylvee is the one of my two subagents who I often have trouble communicating with verbally, and putting a pen in our non-dominant (left) hand and asking her to draw helps us communicate. If your quiet subagent is more verbal than artistic, you might want to try the writing based idea. Or if the headmate you’re trying to communicate with is same-hemisphere with respect to the one who’s steering at the moment, then mindfulness might work.

Note that I’m not claiming that if you fuse all of your self love subagents and all of your other love subagents (assuming you have those) into two subagents, that they’ll actually correspond to the physical right/left hemispheres of your brain. I have no idea if that’s true. What I do claim is that using the hemisphericity model has caused me to come up with a lot of good ideas for communicating with subagents. I came up with the idea that trying drawing, play, etc might be a good way to communicate with Sylvee by thinking explicitly in terms of, “Sylvee isn’t very verbal, so maybe she’s a right hemisphere, so let me google ‘ways to get in touch with your right hemisphere’, oh, apparently putting a pen in your left hand worked for this person, so maybe it will work for me too”. And then I tried that and it worked better than anything I’d ever tried before. So, maybe treat hemisphericity as a useful way of thinking about things which makes surprisingly good predictions, but seems very unlikely a priori, and hasn’t been investigated enough for us to know whether it’s actually true.

Next Post: Mediating Disputes Between Headmates