Making peace with internal conflict one conversation at a time.
We all find ourselves at times waging an emotional war against ourselves. One part of us wants one thing and another part wants something entirely different. Perhaps like when your apartment lease renewal date is looming and part of you really wants to move and another part wants to renew for another year. You just can’t decide. You are confused and frustrated. How can you want to move while you also want to stay where you are?
Once you realize your internal conflict, you can start working towards bringing both sides to the table for peace talks. While you may understand that internal conflict is a normal human experience born out of the opposing belief systems held in our subconscious mind, you may not know how to begin the process of bringing the warring factions in your mind into alignment with each other.
First, identify the combatants. In this example, there is a part that wants to move and a part that doesn’t want to move. Many times the conflict is that black and white. But, if your conflict is not as clear cut as this, begin by paying attention to your thoughts and conversations (with yourself and others) around this subject. You will most likely hear yourself think or say something like “Part of me wants to move but part of me just wants to keeping living in my current place.” It may take some expanded awareness of how you are really feeling to clearly identify the opposing desires, or parts of you. Once you have gained some clarity you can begin to move into changing things.
Remember, each part has a strong desire for you to make the decision in their favor, yet, what they really want is what is best for you. Using active imagination you can imagine interviewing each part. Pretend you are in a room with another “you” and have a conversation just like you were talking with a friend to help them solve a problem. You may do this while in a relaxed state and hold the conversation in your mind, or you may want to write it out and let the answers flow onto the page without editing them. You want to let the information come up from your subconscious mind, not the analytical part of your mind.
Your part is like the other person even though it may look exactly like you. Ask it the same thing you would ask your friend about their desire to move. And also ask the part what it wants for you. And why it wants that. For example, the part might say it wants you to live elsewhere because you are bored where you are now. Ask it why it wants that. Keep asking until you uncover the core reason; a reason that has to do with an emotional response instead of an action. Ask until it says something like “because I love you.” You will uncover that the part thinks it is acting in your best interest. Be aware of hidden motivations as well. Like the part wanting to move because it is trying to help you avoid something. You are looking for things you are not consciously aware of and keep in mind these parts are often created in our early childhood so they very well may think like a second grader. Their responses may not make a lot of sense to you, which is fine, just keep uncovering as best you can to get to the emotional response.
Be sure to be just as diligent with the other part. You will discover that each part is doing its’ best to help you in its’ special way. Perhaps you find that the part that wants to stay put is trying to protect you from the unknown. There is too much danger out there; it wants to stay put so you don’t get hurt. Yet, you really do want to move to a new city for good reasons. With no hidden motives uncovered, this conflicting part is causing difficulty.
Next, start discussing with the parts what needs to happen so that you can start making plans to move and elicit the conflicting parts’ assistance. You see how strong it is, so give it another job to do. Something perhaps that will still let it use its’ strengths of keeping you safe, yet not holding you back. Or, see if the other part, in this case, the part that wants to move, is willing to work with the frightened part to help it along instead of being in opposition to it.
With understanding and sometimes compromise from one or both parts, you can resolve the internal conflict and get your parts working as a team to help you reach your goals and be at peace.