Sam Pope took the MA Course in Psychosynthesis at the Institute of Psychosynthesis and runs her own coaching practice, Sam Pope Coaching and Mindfulness. She worked for many years as a successful entrepreneur.
Roberto Assagioli, founder of Psychosynthesis, declared that ‘personal will’ is at the centre of choice, and the capacity for transformation starts when you move from unconscious to conscious behaviours. Characteristics of our ‘personal will’ develop throughout childhood as semi-autonomous ‘sub-personalities’. With survival in mind, but often in conflict, they create an emotional, inner drama.
To overcome and transcend this inner turmoil, Assagioli encouraged a practice of self-awareness. Through a practice of identifying with our emotions, and then disidentifying from them, the ego is no longer “continuously identified with the ‘contents’ of consciousness which come either from external stimuli or from unconscious drives…”, but now recognises itself as “a pure centre of self-awareness, free from any particular content”.
Into this space the will of our Higher Self, or soul, can drop in. In other words, a transformational aspect of psychosynthesis is the practice of synthesising ‘personal will’ with the will of the soul/spirit (psyche-synthesis) through cultivating a centre of self-awareness.
Assagioli recommended that practitioners exercise caution using the word ‘will’ given the connotations of authority and the tendency of many who may want to rebel against such a concept. He described ‘identification’ as a passive state, an “invasion into the field of consciousness, including the ego, of energies, of functions that come from various parts of the unconscious… the ego passively giving in to this emotional colouring”³.
By identifying – and then disidentifying – we move from an unconscious (passive) to a conscious state. In a meeting about applied psychosynthesis with doctors and psychologists, Assagioli described the benefits of this practice, “As long as the patient is identified with his complex he remains blind; the day the complex is emptied of its emotional charge, and the patient can objectify it, the symptom disappears. He has disidentified himself from the complex”³.
As a newly qualified psychosynthesis life coach, I am curious to investigate how I practice my own self-psychosynthesis in day-to-day life so that it may give me some insight into the support practices required for my clients’ personal transformations. This is particularly in light of the uncertain times of a global pandemic when personal and collective fears are rife.
A self-psychosynthesis practice:
Underpinning the ‘identification and disidentification practice’ is personal and physical self-care along with a good community and support network. Included here is physical exercise, play, creativity and being in nature. Rest is necessary after periods of spiritual work, allowing a period of ‘psychic gestation’³. A lack of physical contact makes intimacy important during pandemic times. N.B. ‘Numbing out’ (for example scrolling through social media) is not self-care but a starting point for a disidentification.
Identification (being identified with an emotion) is experienced as: ‘acting out’ of fear, excitement, confusion, control. It is possible to be in an identified place for hours, days, months and even years because the sub-personality strategies were developed for survival. Therefore, hold things lightly, with curiosity and a “spirit of adventure”³ to prevent resistance or a fear of failure.
Get clear (bring into consciousness):
Notice with curiosity. Discover ‘what is’ using mindfulness meditation, cultivate self-compassion and forgiveness. Patience allows time for things to land and ‘a-ha!’ moments to come. The practice of being (and not doing) requires faith in the Higher Self and a Higher Power, otherwise the tendency to take action from fear in order to ‘survive’ becomes too strong, particularly during times of uncertainty.
Use free-flow writing exercises such as Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’) or journaling. Pull a card from an oracle deck, analyse dreams, do a guided visualisation.
Disidentification: pure self-awareness
The practice of ‘getting clear’ allows for insights to drop in and an experience of letting go. Making conscious that which was previously unconscious is a state of disidentification. It is experienced as a grounded, centred, calm place where the inner voice of knowing is found and can only be experienced after a period of identification.
Find and deepen the connection to Higher Self (the inner, calm voice of knowing) and a Higher Power.
Create rituals around faith, practice mindfulness. Use meditation and prayer to start to discern and invite in the voice of the Higher Self. This process naturally raises consciousness to include an experience of our true nature, that we are part of a greater whole and a sense of a Higher Power greater than ourselves.
Note: It is easy to repress the voice of Higher Self if it asking for a change that seems impossible/difficult and we can get stuck in an identification under the illusion that it will keep us safe (‘Repression of the Sublime’).
Effect meaningful change through action (including inaction)
Developing an inner authority
Actively work at my edges and self-limiting beliefs, making choices to facilitate growth in these areas. Keep it simple. Notice when I get stuck in the indulgent places of ego then actively choose not to ‘act out’ from these places. Follow what lights me up. With practice, the inner voice of knowing becomes louder and clearer and when I’m ready I make more choices in alignment with Higher Self and not from fear.
Energetically, moving away from fear (attempting to control) and towards love (having faith and letting go) creates a space for the emergent to ‘drop in’ as intuition and guidance. This is supported by the psychological ‘Law of Attraction’¹ and the external reality becomes a reflection of the internal.
In relationships, practice ‘detaching with love’, not with control, and without blame and shame. Make amends to myself and to others (if safe to do so).
Regarding faith – the very process of connecting to a Higher Self makes faith an explicit part of psychosynthesis. Not to be confused with the dogma of a religion, the concept of faith is personal and can mean anything, including the power of change. A client who wishes to engage in a process of psychosynthesis must develop a faith (and spiritual practice) of their own.
It seems worth noting that the opportunities to effect meaningful change have increased the more I have practiced self-psychosynthesis.
At first, my personal will was stuck in toxic relationships. The practice first supported me to un-enmesh from my sub-personalities enough to be able to effect positive change in my relationships and support network. This is a crucial point to remember when working with clients.
Each individual will be unique with their own story and self-care routine and some will need more groundwork than others. Some may be familiar with a mindfulness practice that makes the identification/disidentification process easier to bring into daily life, whereas others may not. The practice builds up a resistance to the invasion of the field of consciousness, “…before demolishing this defence system you need to have something to replace it with… a new form, a new healthy personality, or at least a healthier one, to gradually replace the neurotic one”³.
The practice of identification and disidentification is a practice of identity – it is individual-centric and a necessary precursor to the later possibility of transcending ego and aligning with Universal Will. When we cultivate self-awareness through the practice of disidentification we court the sacred in pursuit of meaning by getting to know our Higher Self and the gateway it opens to our true nature and a sense of wholeness. It is a daily practice which supports many possible individual outcomes and is therefore individualistic and not a means to an end. For today, it is a practice that helps me to stay grounded and centred so that I can be present to the emerging needs of my clients during times of uncertainty.
For an identification-disidentification guided meditation please follow this link : PRACTICE – Sam Pope
I would love to hear about your self-psychosynthesis practice – what do you do to stay connected to your Higher Self? Would you categorise these psychosynthesis practices differently? Are there any omissions you would include?
Please write to me at email@example.com.
 Assagioli, R. Act of Will, Viking Press, 1973
 Assagioli, R. Life as a Game and Stage Performance: (role Playing), Psychosynthesis Research Foundation, 1973
 Assagioli, R. Meeting with Doctors, Archivio Assagioli, 1963 (retrieved from: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/category/roberto-assagioli-interviews-en/)
 Cameron, Julia. The artist’s way: A spiritual path to higher creativity. Penguin, 2016.