The NLP Pattern of the Month:

Integration of Conflicting Parts

Internal conflicts occur when two or more "parts" of a person lead to behaviors which are contradictory. The most problematic conflicts occur when the opposing parts have negative judgments about each other. The resolution to the conflict comes from identifying a common positive intention

The following is a general overview of the basic NLP technique for integrating conflicting 'parts'.

  1. Identify the conflict you have and physically sort out the 'parts' in conflict.
  2. Establish a 'meta-position' that is disassociated from either of the conflicting parts.
  3. Ask each part to express its perceptions of the other.
  4. Find the positive intention and purpose of each part.
  5. Make sure that each part recognizes and accepts the positive intent of the other.
  6. From 'meta position' identify what is a common intention on a higher level that both parts share.
  7. Identify the resources and capabilities that each part has that would be helpful to the other part in order to accomplish its own positive intention and the common goal.
  8. Physically synthesize and integrate the formerly conflicting parts into a new representation and internalize it in your body.
  9. Imagine what it is like to go into both your past and future, taking this integration with you and experiencing how it positively influences the events of your life.

Specific Steps for Helping Another to 'Integrate' Conflicting Parts

  1. Identify the conflicting parts your partner has. Common types of conflicts include logic vs. emotion, rational vs. intuitive, childhood beliefs vs. adult beliefs, past vs. future, etc.

    Calibrate the physiology of each of the parts in conflict (pay particular attention to asymmetries of movements and gestures).

  2. Represent the parts in all sensory systems. For example, you can say, "Put the part of you that believes X in one hand (choose the hand that your partner used when expressing that belief). What image, voice and feelings do you have associated with that part of you?" If one of these has been missing have the explorer add it in. Put the other part in the other hand and do the same thing.

  3. Have your partner associate into the perceptual position of each part and ask each part to look at the other and describe what it sees. At this stage the different parts will typically dislike and distrust the other.

  4. Find the positive intention and purpose of each part. Make sure that each part recognizes and accepts the positive intent of the other.

    1. Make sure that each part realizes that their conflict is directly interfering with the achievement of their own purposes.

  5. Have the explorer associate into each part and look at the other again, and this time describe the resources that the other has that would be helpful to its own positive intention.

    1. Secure a congruent agreement from the parts to combine their resources so they can more fully accomplish their own purpose. Usually the reason that they will have mistrusted or disliked each other previously is precisely because the other has not had these resources and has thus seemed foreign and out of control.

  6. Ask your partner to bring his or her hands together at the same time that he or she creates a new representation of himself or herself in all sensory systems that fully integrates the resources of both parts. (Calibrate to an integration/symmetry of the two physiologies that accompanied the separate parts.)

    1. Remind your partner that an integration is not a compromise or a contract. If you are successful there will no longer be two separate parts but rather one whole person.

    2. The "visual squash" technique described above is not always the only method of integration although it is the most common and is very effective. Sometimes, for instance, the explorer may want to expand a new image out from meta position to incorporate the conflicting parts.

    3. Sometimes a conflict may involve more than two parts. In such a case you may either expand this technique to include all three or do the integrations two at a time.

  7. Integration of Conflicting Parts draws operationally from a combination of the NLP techniques of 'Visual Squash' and 'Reframing'. Conceptually, it based on the work of Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir.

Background Reference(s)

People Making, Satir, V., 1972.
The Gestalt Approach & Eyewitness to Therapy, Perls, F., 1973.

NLP Related Reference(s)

The Structure of Magic Volume II, Grinder & Bandler, 1976.
Frogs Into Princes, Bandler & Grinder, 1979.
NLP Volume I, Dilts, Grinder, Bandler, DeLozier, 1980.
Changing Belief Systems with NLP, Dilts, 1990.
<I>Strategies of Genius Volumes II & III, R. Dilts, 1995.

Specific Reference(s)

Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well-Being, Dilts, Hallbom, T. & Smith, S., 1990.

Also see the Article of the Month or the Archives if you are interested in checking out NLP in more depth.

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