Loyal Soldier Subpersonality

May 26, 2007

I am reading Molly Young Brown’s book – Unfolding Self about the practice of Psychosynthesis. I tracked this book down because I believe it is the origin of the practice of welcoming home the Loyal Soldier subpersonality. I am inserting below an email from January 5, 2006 that generated a rich and vibrant discussion in Divine Feminine Wisdom. Later this week or next – I will share here more of my work with subpersonalities but it seems I need to start here.

Dear Women of the Divine,

A term I use a lot here and others have now adopted is the “Loyal Solider” – LS from here on out ok?

This is a term I encountered in Bill Plotkin’s Book Soulcraft and one of the aspects of myself that I worked with during the Sweet Darkness Intensive. Prior to my work with Bill – I heard the terms inner critic, Bluebeard, etc. and had a sense of what these “predators” and “judges” of us were and how they manifest in me. I never resonated with killing them off though – and that is why the Bluebeard story in WWRWTW never fully clicked with me.

Let me start with Bill’s definition:
The Loyal Soldier — a courageous, wise, and stubborn sub-personality that formed during our childhood and created a variety of strategies to help us survive the realities (often dysfunctional) of our families and culture. It keeps us “safe” by making us small or limited, or by further traumatizing us. It is the intrapsychic element that shovels chunks of our wholeness into our Shadow so that we will appear acceptable or invisible to the powers that be.
Anytime you hear an inner voice judging you as too uppity, too this, too that, not enough this, not enough that, it is the LS speaking! To work with this dynamic in ourselves, we need to recognize that the LS literally saved our lives when we were growing up. The people capable of nurturing us or abandoning us had all the power over us and our LS was our ally in the war of infant, childhood, and adolescent survival.

The problem is – we grow up – and the LS remains a part of our psyche – keeping us safe and small and doing his best to keep us from being hurt – but often this just hampers our efforts at individuation and shoves more of our radiant selves into the shadow!

In the tradition that I study – the task of growing up includes “welcoming home the Loyal Soldier” and thanking him for all his tireless efforts in fighting the good fight. Then we gently tell him all the ways that he kept us safe and thank him again. In time when he really feels acknowledged and appreciated – we look at the ways he keeps us small, and we tell him – “I am no longer a child” “I no longer need your protection” AND “I need you to help me” – and we then reassign the LS to a new task.

I will insert here an excerpt from my post-quest mentoring session this summer with my wilderness guide – it is also something I shared with the Sweet Darkness TSC and re-reading it has been good for me. It speaks to one of the aspects of my LS and how I re-assigned him a new task.

When my Loyal Soldier tells me I am not *good* enough, or
*experienced* enough, or *wise* enough, or *old* enough, or
*enough* I ask him to take me down to the root cellar… and
we talk about all the things I learned that I forgot… all
my passions that were dropped after being mastered… his
job right now is to catalog my life’s work – to organize it
so it is there for me when I need to call on it. He is such
an organizer and neatener and straightener and control freak
that he is really enjoying this work. He has long periods of
solitude to mull over how to organize and clean up this
chaos of skills and gifts. His inventory system leaves
something to be desired – but at least he is using his
critical skills on something other than ME!

The original idea of this subpersonality came from the work of Molly Young Brown. Her specialty is psychosynthesis – not something I have experienced and I don’t know much about it – but it is a common thread in many of the transpersonal therapies. Molly developed this idea after reading about a Japanese soldier from WWII who was discovered on a remote Pacific Island years after the end of the war. The soldier did not know the war was over so he faithfully kept his post fortified and defended! When he returned home – the people of Japan welcomed him home as a hero and told him the war was over.

The important thing with working with this energy is gratitude – thank you for keeping me small and safe! It takes a long time of hearing that before you can then begin to dialog in imagery or active imagination about how that style of keeping you safe is a shadow aspect of yourself waiting to be reclaimed. Then once the energy is reclaimed – the gratitude continues and the LS is reassigned a new duty where he can remain a faithful servant to Self.

Another term I use here often is ego. When I use that I mean the Healthy, Adult Ego of the I/everyday/self – not the neurotic ego that comes from the wounded child of ourselves. I make a distinction between healthy adult ego and neurotic ego – in Bill’s working definition below he makes a different distinction:

Ego — a person’s everyday conscious self; the conscious self while in its normal state of consciousness; who you normally experience yourself as being. The uninitiated ego has little or no understanding of the soul, and is an agent for itself. The initiated ego is rooted in soul, is the agent or handmaiden for the soul, and is the soul’s lover.
The life’s work of a true adult, with an initiated ego, transcends the experience of the I/ego/self.

The challenge for me – as with many people – is separating out the wounds of the ego that need mending and tending and soulwork. Of course we BOTH do the mending of wounds AND the work of soul – but at times our ego gets confused and retreats into entitlement – I deserve to be happy. I don’t want to be hurt. I want someone to save me, rescue me, love me, etc.

If you are still reading after all this…

What is your Loyal Solider up to these days? How is he keeping you from living your larger story? What would it be like to welcome him home with gratitude and thank him for all the ways he kept you small and safe?



  1. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. It has given me words to go along with what I am experiencing at the moment in my journey to wholeness. About a month ago, I started being grateful to that part of myself and have been struggling to become more “fully awake” to that part of myself and the new relationship that will be necessary. Thanks for giving me something to work with.

  2. I know this blog is old BUT I was searching the Internet for stuff on the LS to help with some work I am doing with a client. I gave my ‘Soulcraft’ away to someone who needed it and need to get another copy on order. Anyway, I appreciate your blog today because it has given me something to think about and work with. It’s been lovely to have this reminder, I have no idea what my LS is up to these days, we seem to have lost touch! Hope your work is going well… Internally and externally. Love Wild Poppy x

  3. As someone who has covered his work previous, I am writing to see if you would be interested in receiving a review copy of Bill Plotkin’s new book Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche which we will be publishing this April for consideration. If so I would be happy to ask his publicist at New World Library to send you either the PDF or the physical book in March when we get them hot off the press. If this is of interest, please reply to this email with your mailing address, a direct link to your blog, and the format you prefer!

    Here’s more information about this ground-breaking book…

    What do we need to know and understand to help facilitate lasting positive change in our individual lives and communities? How can we revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human and revive our abilities to realize our potential and transform our contemporary cultures?

    The enclosed advance reading copy of Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (New World Library, April 15, 2013) by cultural visionary, author, and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin addresses and answers these key questions of our time.

    “We’re being summoned by the world itself to make many urgent changes to the human project, but most central is a fundamental re-visioning and reshaping of ourselves, a shift in consciousness,” writes Plotkin. “We must reclaim and embody our original wholeness, our indigenous human nature granted to us by nature itself. And the key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not merely to suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, manage stress, or refurbish dysfunctional relationships, but rather to fully flesh out our multifaceted, wild psyches, committing ourselves to the largest story we’re capable of living, serving something bigger than ourselves.”

    In Wild Mind, Plotkin introduces a map of psychological wholeness that is rooted in nature’s own map of wholeness. The book offers an elaborate field guide to becoming fully human by cultivating the four facets of the Self and discovering both the limitations and gifts of our wounded, fragmented, and shadowed subpersonalities.

    I look forward to hearing from you about this possibility! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

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