As we begin to explore our ongoing inner experience, it becomes obvious that there are many different parts operating within us. These different parts will be noticed emerging in response to the different life situations we face daily. At work, we may recognize we are intellectual and task-oriented; with a lover, warm and intimate; with authority figures, anxiously passive or angrily rebellious; and when playing a favorite sport, perhaps “uncharacteristically” competitive or deferential.

We may even refer to these aspects of ourselves in ordinary conversation: "That was my heart talking, not my head," or “My feelings got hurt,” or “My artistic side needs to express itself.” Other people may also notice our shifting parts: “This is a whole side of you I’ve never seen before,” “You donŐt seem yourself today,” or “I like it when you let your playfulness out.”

Each of these different parts of us is composed of various personality elements—particular skills, gifts, values, attitudes, world views—which are formed into an operating whole or synthesis through which we function in different environments (see the middle unconscious). These semi-autonomous subsystems within the personality are what Assagioli called subpersonalities.

Subpersonalities are formed within our relationships to significant inner and outer environments which function as unifying centers (Assagioli) of our experience. As we interact with these environments of meaning, we actively draw from the vast riches of our unique human potential, both learned and innate, to form different unified, stable modes of expression. It is as if we are artists, our human potential is our palette, and subpersonalities are our creative expressions within particular environments (unifying centers). These creative expressions together then help form the larger system of the personality, that overall expression of ourselves in our lives as a whole. (For more about this understanding of subpersonality formation, see Psychosynthesis by Firman & Gila.)