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Parts Therapy Fighting Parts: Managers vs Firefighters

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by njoy, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I'm reading some new material (source below) about Polarizations (protector parts who are in opposition to each other) because we all have them and it's a bit tricky to understand and resolve these emotionally-charged internal issues. But what a relief when we do!

    What I learned today is that Managers tend to fight with Firefighters. This is hardly surprising since Managers are sensible parts who try to organize our life so that their exile (and, consequently, we) never experience pain while Firefighter are more like teenagers who freak out, big-time, at any sign of pain coming close.

    Obviously, these parts have have similar goals (protection) but with such different methods that they really can't be expected to always appreciate each other. Like parents and teenagers -- the battle is on.

    This was quite an insight for me, especially from my background in foster parenting -- where I had to learn to get along with the dreaded teenager or I wouldn't have been much use to them. Not to mention, I would not have survived their chaos. I know all teenagers are not extremely chaotic but they do have more enthusiasm, strength, and creative new ideas than the average parent!

    The source of all this good stuff is a short course on Polarization I downloaded from Jay Earley's web site, here: http://www.personal-growth-programs.com/store/courses

    I'm probably never going to get to a live course so these recordings will have to do.

    Will post as I learn!

    PS: In case anyone wonders: no, Jay Earley doesn't pay me to promote his stuff. I really am just a fan.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  2. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Several things that I've learned in the Polarization course, so far, have been particularly interesting. One is that we all have polarizations but we don't necessarily know it. This is not really unexpected since the idea that we have parts is quite a surprise to most of us.

    On the mailing list, I've noticed quite a few people quickly become comfortable with the idea of parts and these folks may find it fairly easy to accept that some parts can seriously conflict.

    In the first of two audios on the Polarization course, the group does a role play to help a woman with trouble between a part who wants her to eat well and exercise and a part that feels sorry for her and wants her to "Just have a bit. What's it going to hurt?" Other learners play her parts and the woman is startled to hear them accurately express her inner thoughts.

    Of course, parts can have different viewpoints without the disagreement becoming extreme and, in IFS, this is not considered a polarization. It's too mild for that. Polarizations are, by IFS definition dysfunctional. They cause us trouble.

    When a different viewpoint between parts is not extreme and isn't really a fight we might not even notice it. Sometimes we feel one way. Sometimes another. If we do notice, we might decide we just feel differently about that topic on different days. We don't necessarily realize that parts with separate views are involved.

    Another interesting point is that parts may be getting extreme but that doesn't mean the disagreements are conscious, They may well not be. If the trauma is deeply buried, then perhaps so are the protectors. This is especially likely if the initial trauma took place at a time when we were pre-verbal. A baby doesn't have the cognitive ability to process something that would be a conscious memory in an older child.

    One sure sign of polarization is when we just can't make up our minds about something important. We all know this can cause a lot of upset and suffering as we feel pulled in opposite directions. Whether we realize there are sub-personalities involved or not doesn't change their influence.

    My understanding is that, in IFS, extreme behavior is characteristic of parts. True Self is not extreme! The only time it might appear so is when we THINK we are behaving in a mature, open manner but, in fact, the Self has blended with a part and that part is now in control.

    To me, the information above has been very helpful. Next time, I'll try to talk about how polarizations can be resolved. Somehow it is much more comfortable to think of sub-personalities with different perspectives than to just feel turmoil inside and have no real grip on what to do about it.

    Here's a list, from the course, of some common polarization patterns. I think we all encounter some of these at one time or another!

    Indulger vs. Controller (struggle around addictive behavior)

    Angry Protector vs. Distancer or Pleaser or Conflict Avoider (interpersonal conflict)

    Inner Critic vs. Defender (inner or outer criticism)

    Taskmaster vs. Procrastinator or Rebel (getting tasks done)

    Pleaser vs. Rebel (how to deal with someone who wants something)

    Dependent Part or Merged Part vs. Distancer (intimacy)

    Caretaker vs. Entitled Part (whose needs are important?)

    Idealizer vs. Judge (perceptions of others)

    Impulsive Part vs. Doubter (taking action)

    Personally, I can relate. How about you? Until next time ...
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  3. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Here is is, 2014, and I haven't had a bit of trouble with polarized protectors over the holidays but quite an interesting conundrum popped up during today's Saturday Call In when I realized that a Protector may be trying to interfere with my real Self! Here's how it's played out over the past few weeks. I have felt that I am getting close to some unconscious stuff (that'd be an Exile, wouldn't it? - I think so) and something in me is trying to distract me from going there.

    This was all pretty vague until a couple of people on the mailing list started talking about the potential downside of constantly looking for more learning and more study actually becoming a way of keeping us busy (in other words distracting us) from solving our tms issues. Someone else who is an TMS professional agreed that this is a very likely thing to happen when a part doesn't want to go there (wherever there is). Wow.

    That conversation got me thinking about this polarization thread on this sub forum and how I have been avoiding updating it. Why? No good reason, just that there always seemed to be something "more" urgent to attend to. Like seeing if there is some raspberry jam to go with the lovely white bread and butter I happen to know is just waiting for me in the cupboard. Weak, huh? Familiar, eh?

    Anyway, to get around to my point, I should talk to the part and see if we can't reach an understanding of what's going on:

    RS (real Self): Hi, there. I'd like to visit with you, if I may?

    Part: Why?

    RS: Well, I've been trying to get to know all the parts (as you are probably aware) but, specifically, I'm wondering if you are trying to keep me away from something you think might be dangerous ...

    Part: Dangerous for ...?

    RS: Hm, well, you'd know that better than I but my feeling is that you are protecting someone so I wonder if that would be an Exile?

    Part: Hmph. Maybe.

    RS: Are you willing to discuss this with me? If you are, I'd like to ask what it is that you are afraid might happen if I do get in touch with this Exile you are concerned about. If you are concerned about ...

    Part: Oh for goodness sake, of course I'm concerned? Don't you think I would be? It's my job!

    RS: Yes, that's very true. I guess I wasn't thinking of that. I was thinking of my job ...

    Part: Right, you are the true leader!

    RS: You sound a bit miffed. Does it bother you that I've said I'm the true leader. Because I do see how it might bother you when I'm talking about your job, one you've been doing for many years.

    Part: (muttering) No sh*t, Sherlock.

    RS: Yikes. Well, I'm sorry to have upset you. Maybe I should have put it differently ... (realizing this comes from a Concerned Part and not Real Self, RS unblends). No, I mean I needed to say it but perhaps I should work on presentation, so to speak.

    Part: Mmph. Well, it was a bit startling but I'm not saying you did anything wrong. I'm willing to accept that you probably ARE the true leader of the Internal Family. Someone certainly needs to be. I'm surprised it took you so long to get here.

    RS: You are honestly wondering if I'm up to the job.

    Part: Yes, I am.

    RS: Okay, let's start with a bit of a resume. Would that help?

    Part: Maybe. Go ahead.

    (RS tells the Protector Part about our age and gives a fairly thorough overview of my life and what I've learned, my goals, my skills, some of the knottier problems I've solved, etc. Note: this is suggested in one of Jay Earley's books but darned if I can remember which one. I've never done it this thoroughly before and the Protector does seem impressed.)

    Part: I didn't know all that. You have had quite a full life. Not like a part, actually.

    RS: Yes, that's true. I am not a part.

    Part: Interesting. So you are saying that you might not need me any longer?

    RS: Well, I don't know about that. That's up to you. If you feel like it, you could go do something else. Something entirely different, if you like. Or you could hang out and make sure I am doing it right. I have no objection at all to that...

    Part: Hard to believe you'd be that unterritorial.

    RS: Well, this is not a game. This is our life.

    Part: Huh. Okay, well, I'll tell you what's bothering me, then.

    RS: Thank you very much.

    Part: You are welcome. My worry is that you are not aware of this Exile I'm protecting. You don't know about her. You might think you do but I don't believe it.

    RS: Okay, thanks for that information. Of course, you are right that I don't know her. Can you fill me in?

    Part: I don't want to. I want you to go ahead and meet her (could've been a him -- see, you didn't know that).

    RS: No, I didn't. Almost all the exiles I've met so far have been female. (RS notices a part that feels guilty about not knowing -- negative feelings are a sure sign of a concerned part starting to blend; the guilty-feeling part is willing to step back to let the process continue with the Protector).

    Part: that was interesting.

    RS: Yes, I need to be unblended in order to stay focused, caring, compassionate -- all that good stuff.

    Part: Huh. Anyway ... I'm getting tired of all this hard work. So go ahead and try to help the Exile. It's going to take a while to get her trust but she does need a friend and I guess that's what you are saying you are ...

    RS: Yes, that's it.

    Part: Okay, well, let's keep in touch. I'll withdraw my objections and we'll see how it turns out.

    RS: I can also help you.

    Part: That would be nice. But let's help her, first.

    RS: I am impressed by your dedication. I'll talk to you again.

    Part: Okay.

    Njoy: That's it for now, folks. My parts and I are pooped! Luckily, they have all been most cooperative about giving me time to rest. Also, I no longer have to write out everything "he said, she said" as I've done here. I really do credit IFS for unjumbling my mind so that I can think things through and meditate more effectively; even my dreams are clearer and more organized, less inclined to the sort of out of control repetition that used to plague me.

    PS: If you are new to all this, I really can't do better than to suggest you study Jay Earley's introduction to IFS called Inner Therapy. There's also a newly published workbook to go along with the book (both available as downloads). I've read many of Dr. Earley's books and, useful as they are, everything builds on the process outlined in that first book. Available at Amazon and on Jay's web site and, no, I don't have any financial interest in whether you buy them or not. Just a fan, nothing more.
  4. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I came across this one woman "show" on youtube that discusses Polarizations in a really creative way :
  5. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I came across this in my drafts but am not sure whether or not I've put in online somewhere:

    As my IFS work progresses I'm finding the parts I uncover are more deeply buried and ever more wary of exposure. Not unwilling, so far, but definitely less inclined than the first to appear to be open and up front about what they are doing. I think some of them feel quite startled to be uncovered and not sure what to make of my intrusion into their world with my "curiosity and compassion". So far, there is always a part of them (my parts have parts?) is hopeful that some good may come of it but overall they need to be convinced that this is so.

    Note, later: Since writing this I've encountered a few parts who don't seem to have a sense of hope. I am sitting with them quietly and am careful not to "invade" them any more than that. Pehraps hope can be aroused.

    One result is that it is often difficult to tell the difference between a protector and an exile. I ask permission of a protector to speak to the exile only to discover that the "exile" is simply another layer of protection and the true exile is still more deeply hidden. I get the impression that the sly protector may be quite aware of what is going on. Is she testing me and my methods? If so, that's pretty sneaky and pretty impressive, as well.

    So how do I know, in conversation with a part, which category it belongs to? Well, I think it's likely that I don't always know but sooner or later the role of protector will become clear as we come to understand each other. There is a separate quality about a protector. They have a job to do but often they are not all that invested in it.

    I had a dog like that once. She had a half dozen puppies (her first litter) and was a totally committed and competent mother. But as each puppy went to a new home, she did not hunt for it (as most dogs do) and, frankly, it appeared that her only worry was that the puppy would come back. For a few hours or a day after the puppy disappeared she would very carefully NOT look for it. If her eyes strayed into a corner where the lost puppy might lurk she would turn her head and look steadfastly in the other direction. When the last pup left, she was obviously relieved and it was several days before she relaxed from the fear that they were coming back!

    We promptly got her fixed and she showed no interest in puppies for the rest of her life, unlike many altered female dogs who enjoy mothering any small dog or other animal.

    I think my parts are mostly like that dog. Once the exile is safely gone the protectors are happy to get on with other things.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

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