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  • Helen Tyrrell

Who's Conducting YOUR Orchestra?


I attended a wedding last weekend, long postponed for COVID. A beautiful occasion. The sun was out, we were dressed in our best wedding finery and ready to let out some pent up emotion. Predictably, I let my hair down at the reception, and, attracting equally enthusiastic kindred spirits, by midnight we were energetically ’rolling on the river’ fuelled by a mood of celebration and plenty of wine!


For a day or two afterwards the hedonist in me was satisfied, even if the rest of me was reeling!


It’s all got me to thinking – who is in charge today? As in – which sub-personality is conducting the orchestra of my life? For me at the weekend it was clearly my ‘hedonist’, a wild creature who doesn’t much care for healthy choices, but has a great time nonetheless. By contrast often these days I find my ‘introvert’ is happily in charge, exploring my dreams and making time for quiet meditation. Its best to steer clear when my ‘crusader’ is helming the ship, as it makes me prone to arguing, and when ‘being driven’ is in charge I often end up exhausted trying to make things happen… things which don’t always want to happen


It's useful to know which sub personality is steering your ship at any given moment: who is calling the shots today? You can free yourself from a total identification - which is the same as being possessed - by spotting it, making allowances, taking time to see things differently. Breathe.


Which subpersonalities do you have? Which one is usually in charge? Does that need a shake up? A change? …even just for today.


One great way to shake things up and put someone new in charge is to take the VIA character strengths test – a great, free, tool which identifies your strengths from the top down. It’s a good lens to view some of those sub personalities, maybe ones which don’t get such a look in as conductor if you find yourself often stuck in more negative mindsets. I often use this early on in coaching and return to it time and again. For example, if having done the test, you discover one of your top strengths is ‘love of learning’ then I might ask, “if ‘love of learning’ were responding to the challenges you are facing now, what would it do?” I see shoulders relax and chest expanding as the client contemplates the world from one of their positions of strength.


There’s a wonderful test which Susan Jeffers cites in what feels now like the original self-help book, (published in 1987) ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’, which proves that focussing on our strengths literally makes us physically stronger and focussing on our weaknesses literally makes us weaker. So it’s a no-brainer to stay with the strengths!

Yet who is usually in charge day to day? Is it more often fear or pessimism? Or a strength such as appreciation of beauty, or curiosity and Interest in the world?


Working with your strengths and putting one of those in charge of the orchestra is a sure-fire way to find relief and joy in the moment. As the strengths are yours, you can hold them close and appreciate them, know they are something you can excel at and that if you operate, consciously, from a place of strength you will grow stronger.

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