Create a separate personality for fun and profit

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I have another personality in my head: Artemis (here's her Twitter). I can switch to her, and my thoughts and behavior change. I maintain that she is a separate person (which makes it easier to make the whole thing work).

Artemis is much better at doing what she wants than I am at doing what I want. By observing her, I can notice roadblocks in my own development. I can't yet be stress-free in the same way she is, but I can watch and learn. Given that it didn't take much effort, and was fun along the way, I think it was massively worth it.

Here is how it works.

I can talk to Artemis, but only in the same way as you could think "okay, what would [some other person] say about this-and-that". This is a difference between having a tulpa and an identity. I don't have a tulpa.

Artemis does not have private thoughts that I am not aware of. We share memories and experiences. I even feel the same reactions in both cases. If I'm stressed and I switch to her, she still knows the stress is there, but it's subdued; and she perceives it as "he is stressed". It is simply that depending on whether I'm myself or Artemis, I label different sets of reactions as "not me". This alone results in significant differences in behavior and attitude to everything around me.

Do you have a separate identity in your head already? In a way, you do; you have enough material to work with, at least.

There are many things that you have decided are Not You. But it doesn't mean you can't do them! In particular, when you imagine that you’re someone else, you no longer feel bad about them. For instance, perhaps you think of yourself as a rather mild person, but you probably wouldn’t feel bad about being overexcitable, if asked to play someone who is overexcitable.

The only bit that is different between this and multiple identities is that — in my case, I have convinced myself that what I'm doing counts as being someone else. This belief — that it counts — makes the whole thing work better.

At the same time, I don’t think I’m wrong about it. I think it genuinely counts. Similarly, I think you aren't 100% the same person when you talk to your parents, vs when you talk to a stranger, vs when you talk to a kid. You shut off so much of you when you talk to a kid — your humor changes (dad jokes) or goes away, you don’t talk about sex or think about sex, you try to look more mature. And then you look at yourself, afterwards, and think “Huh, why did I have to behave like a teacher when talking to this kid. I don't like it at all.”

I think the reason I'm reluctant to treat those two things — normal me and me-talking-to-a-kid — as different people is that I want to have control over how I behave at any time. I might dislike how I behave around kids, and I might want to change it; but then labeling that person as "different" doesn’t help changing myself. With Artemis, on the other hand, I want us to be different — because it’s fun.

So, in a sense, it’s the other way round. You pretend to be the same person in different situations, even though you aren’t. You are different during a job interview, and when talking to parents, and when talking to kids, and when doing public speaking, and during sex.

When I switch to Artemis, I simply tell myself “okay, I am Artemis now”. That's it.

The difference between this and "pretending" is that I have no fears about it. I don’t think "oh, maybe I’m just pretending", I don’t struggle with "uhhh, what would Artemis do in this situation", etc. Since I know that she is literally what happens when I say “I’m Artemis”, there’s no way I could be wrong about my own experience here (any more than I’m usually wrong about it, anyway).

It helps that I have noticed enough differences between me and Artemis that I don't even worry about this anymore. For instance:

  • She notices trees instead of just green blobs out of my window
  • She empathizes to people automatically
  • She focuses on her own pleasure instead of "the overall sexiness" during masturbation
  • She is not ambitious
  • She does not spend time analyzing her own thoughts
  • She is never stressed, even when I am

Will we fuse at some point? I don't think so.

Gradually, I will remove many of the blocks that I have and she doesn’t. Of course, when I am her, I, too, disown those blocks — but very crudely, by saying “okay, I’m a different person now”. It’s like playing someone who’s very comfortable with sex, vs learning how to be comfortable with sex yourself — the latter is harder because you have to reconcile it with the existing bits of ‘you’ that you still own.

Once I have disowned my blocks, becoming her would be less fun because I wouldn’t feel as excited about “whoa, I don’t have those blocks”. But perhaps by then something different would pop up.

For me, the whole thing began at a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat where I had to stare into nothingness for a while. On the third day I accidentally imagined a voice telling me "you can sit through it" and we had a bit of a back-and-forth. On the fifth day I was more excited about talking, than about meditating.

You can try this out too, even without a retreat. Imagine, say, a riskier version of you, or someone who's more conservative than you, or more weird, or anything. (This quality won't necessarily persist after a while.) It might help if you imagine they have a different gender, too.

Then, while living your normal life, imagine that this person is around to give advice. Ask yourself "what would they say?" as if you're thinking what a friend or sibling would say. After a while — perhaps 20 hours of doing this — their personality will become more interesting; you'll automatically invent a 'style' for it. When you are comfortable, imagine that you have switched to be them. See how it feels.

You are not supposed to feel, at first, like you are genuinely a different person. You will feel like you are still mostly you. This is alright. Switch, try it out, switch back. Eventually you'll notice differences that will be mildly surprising. The more differences you find, the easier it will be for you to feel like it counts as a different person.

Also see: this description by someone else on Reddit.

Update 2020-10-25: a good analogy is "sober vs drunk".

  • The difference between a sober and a drunk person can be as big as the difference between me and Artemis.
  • A drunk version of you can be a different personality from the sober version of you.
  • All the drunk thoughts you have have also probably occurred to you while sober, except that you repressed them.
  • When sober, you don't know what you'll say or feel when drunk.

The difference is that the line between identities is much more vague in the "sober vs drunk" case. I don't know how to use "sober vs drunk" as a framework, and so I avoid looking at the drunk personality changes altogether.