Inner Conflicts II

Improve mood, motivation, and success by resolving internal conflicts between states. Generate resourceful states more consistently by resolving habitual (automatic) negative states. Robert Dilts, a well-known NLP researcher and master trainer, explains the issue of inner conflict:

“In a typical situation, if we are prevented from reaching a goal due to an external impasse, we maintain our focus on the outcome, inhibit any “antithetical ideas” and continue to attempt other avenues or strategies in order to attain the goal. If there is an internal conflict, however, the “debate ground” shifts inward, and a battle begins between the two parts of one’s self. As Freud points out, the external frustration is supplemented by internal frustration. It is as if the person is “caught between a rock and a hard place.” “And when the fight is between two parts of one’s self, one can never ‘win’.”

Notice incongruencies between conscious and subconscious communication.

This is done while working with a client on an issue that involves conflict between two directions, but has poor awareness of one of the opposing states. When exploring the conflict, observe incongruence between the person’s conscious and subconscious communication. By this we mean what the person says versus what their body is giving away. For example, if the person shows anger, but denies being angry, you will see body language that contradicts their denial. Anger physiology will show as jaw and lip stiffness, squinting of the eyes, shoulder tension, and maybe even resentment or tension in the voice. 

Sort into polarities

Some of these incongruencies will have something in common with other incongruencies. If the person really was not angry, they would have relaxed shoulders and other physiology of a “not angry” state. This observation provides you with a polarity involving two states. On one end of the polarity is shoulder tension, and, on the other, is relaxed shoulders. The polarity is that of a range of shoulder tension from high to low. Simmering anger is high tension, not being angry is low tension. Discover more incongruities between these two states, and sort them into polarities as we did with shoulder tension. 

To find these incongruities, you are seeking physiology clues. A good way to detect them, is to have your client enter the very state that their body language is telling you they are not really into. For example, with the “not angry” state that the angry client insists that they are in, you could help them align with that state by remembering, in first person, what it is like to watch a child play with a very friendly dog. Once they are fully in the “not angry” state, find out what is happening with every sub-modality associated with that state. In other words, what they are experiencing in that state. 

Now you have moved beyond body language to include sub-modalities that your client is able to describe for you. This would not have been possible with a client who is not aligned with the state they claim to be in. This technique is important, because, when people are out of alignment, they can have difficulty being verbally or detailed, or, instead, unconsciously create distractions in order to avoid being aware of their schism. The subconscious mind is very creative when it is tasked with this kind of deception. 

Sort these incongruencies into their polarities through means such as spatial sorting, symbolic sorting, rep systems, roles, and Satir Categories (i.e., blaming, placating, or rationalizing). If you don’t know about all of these, stick with what is more obvious to you, such as how your client positions them in their mental space and what sub-modalities they associate with each state. How the state feels is often the easiest one to elicit. 

As your client talks about what these states mean to them, note what beliefs appear to drive each state. Thinking of the states as parts may help you derive beliefs that are empowering or limiting. You are likely to find more than a few negative or limiting beliefs. 

To summarize by using an example, fix “depression” in its “space” by asking your client to recall a recent time that they felt depressed, and enter into that state for a few moments. During that time, elicit sub-modalities and any other aspects that distinguish these states from each other. For example, list the predicates, key words, eye accessing cues, and physiology  cues that you can observe in connection with that state.As you explore the original issue, you will discover additional states with aspects that can be placed onto polarities. As you do the sorting, you eventually get to states that do not share enough polarities or similar attributes. At this point, you begin resorting. On the other hand, some states, such as depression and passion, will be competitive, that is, so incompatible that they cannot be placed on the kind of polarity that we are working with here, because they would be too incongruent. 

Integrate the incongruencies. 

Put each state where it belongs. For example, place depression and happiness in their unique spots, (i.e., their respective spatial locations). Then group similar states in these locations. 

a. Make a connection between the polarities. Have your client group the sensations of the states. To do this, your client must focus on the kinesthetic aspect of the state, bringing it to the foreground, rather than the imagery, sound, and concepts. In doing this, your client is moving all of the feelings of depression, for example, into a limited space, thereby experiencing it as something that they can control. This makes these states and their feelings less overwhelming and builds in your client a sense of empowerment and hope. 

b. Be sure that your client is in a very positive state before proceeding. Your client should be in a very confident state. Be sure that their positive states are stronger and collectively larger than the other polarities. Have your client move into a meta position. From there, bring the polarities together in a way, what can create new solutions.