Polarity Integration is based on the principle that, if one fixates on one way of being, one is also creating the opposite way of being. An unwanted way of being or doing is likely to be the flip side of a wanted way of being or doing. If the person doesn't take responsibility for both sides she will have created an ongoing conflict between them. The solution is to encompass both sides and integrate them as necessary.
There is a certain sequence to this technique, but it is in no way a rote step-by-step procedure. It is important to grasp the theory and then the steps to follow will tend to follow naturally.
Polarity Integration could be said to deal with identities. However, there are some subtle points that makes this processing distinct and more direct than other approaches.
The basic idea is that if the client has an unwanted behavior or aspect of herself, then there is a part of her that does it and a part of her that doesn't do it. The unwanted aspect persists because it hasn't been reconciled with its opposite part.
If the client recognizes that she has an unwanted behavior, then she has already to some degree separated out the two. The part of her that regards the behavior as unwanted is not the same as the one that does it. If it were, she wouldn't have much trouble changing it.
So, we start out with an unwanted behavior. That doesn't mean a feeling. An unwanted feeling is better handled with re-experiencing. This would be something she does, or a way she looks at things. Something one is being or doing, rather than something one has or thinks or experiences, such as a pain.
The client notices for example that she has a problem with getting angry. By dialoguing we determine that it is more a way of being than it is an unwanted feeling she gets as a reaction. Or, said differently, it seems more oriented towards cause than towards effect.
First we get the client to differentiate that she actually has such a part of herself:
"Is there a part of you that (gets angry)?"
That makes her sort of isolate it, and it makes her realize that it is not all of her. She differentiates from it at that point. She will usually have a small realization on that actually being the case.
We are not after a fancy label for the part. We are not trying to pinpoint an exact precise identification. That would be an entirely different action. In this context, making abstractions and labels would tend to lead away from the simplicity. They would provide a way for the client of not facing what is really going on.
The part should preferably not get a label at all, except for the obvious statement of what it does. An attempted more elaborate label would most likely invoke more complexities, particularly the trouble that would come out of getting the wrong label.
When the client is "being angry" all kinds of things might be going on in her internal world. She might be playing out a dozen identities relating to this: "a concerned citizen", "a radical terrorist", "a spurned lover", and so forth. And she might have forcefully imprinted goals: "to create anger", "to destroy anger", etc. And she might have any number of traumatic incidents containing anger. Entities might be angry. And she might have all sorts of other things relating to anger. Those are not what we are after here. We are trying to get her to face and take responsibility for the simple fact that she is sometimes being angry, and the part of her that does that is here right now.
We are addressing the issue here in the present moment, and we don't give the client any escape of placing it in the past or assigning it to some other identity. That forces her to deal with it now. On the other hand, we will avoid any statements equating her with the phenomenon, assigning too specific tendencies and labels to her.
The reason we assign the behavior to a "part" of her instead of to "herself" is to establish the differentiation that makes it possible to clear it. That opens the door to some actions a new client might not otherwise go for.
If we don't make the distinction that it is a "part" doing it, the client might insist that she has "every right to be angry", or "that's just the way it is", or "she made me angry", and it doesn't resolve easily. That might indicate fixed ideas of course, but they might be sticky on brand new clients. By separating it out, the client is likely to begin talking about what she actually perceives, instead of defending herself or wondering what is wrong with her.
So, by the simple action of getting the client to recognize that a part of her is doing something unwanted, we have accomplished several things:
- She has isolated that area of her personal reality
- She has differentiated it from herself
- She can now study it
- She has implicitly admitted to being responsible for it
- She has opened the door to handling it
- She has excluded a lot of potential complexity about it.
Now, the next step is to get the part that is at odds with the first, unwanted part:
"Is there a part of you that is opposite to (the angry part)"
The client will also answer that quite readily. It is not particularly something to search for. We get a simple label for that part, e.g. "The calm part of me". Avoid going into searching for precise wordings. We don't want a very precise label, we just want the general area.
The client has now isolated the other side of the coin. She has to some degree recognized that that is also a distinct part of her, she has taken some sort of responsibility for it, and she has differentiated it from the self that is watching all of this, the self that we are currently talking with.
Differentiating this second part might take a little bit more work than the first part. The client might insist at first that it is simply "me". No problem, we just need to isolate which part of "me" that is. A little dialoguing should produce a little bit more definition, such as "the calm part of me" or "the rational part of me". The client will naturally feel that this second part is closer to her "true" self, and that is quite fine. This second part is probably the one that feels that the first part is unwanted. Either one of them might be dominant, though. Also, both of them might be more or less unwanted.
Our underlying principle here is that something that was whole has been split up into a dichotomy of two parts or polarities. That split creates an ongoing conflict or push-pull contest between the two parts. Our objective is to re-integrate those two parts with each other. Our plan is to first recognize that they are there and then work out what it is that is keeping them apart.
Neither Part A or Part B are whole or perfect. The client might initially feel that Part A is completely unwanted and she wants to get rid of it, but Part B is her own true self. Well, that is one of the reasons she has the problem she has. The parts are separated by lack of acceptance, interaction, or understanding. The situation will persist as long as she can't accept both parts and as long as they can't accept each other. Despite the client's initial opinions, Part A will be found to have qualities that B doesn't have and Part B will have qualities that A doesn't have.
The client might regard both parts as unwanted, and that is fine too. That is actually easier to deal with than if she regards one of them as "Me". We are moving in the direction of having her recognize that each part has its own portion of pros and cons and that the pros and cons will complement each other between the two parts.
Having differentiated the two parts, we can start working on them. A good place to start is:
"What is (Part A) doing?"
Notice that it is expressed in the present. We want to know what the part is and does not what it was, and did. This is again to address what is there now and to avoid going off on a tangent.
We aren't particularly trying to elicit any misdeeds of the part. We are trying to get a picture of what the part is engaged in, what it is focusing on. That will establish further distinctions for the client of what that part is about and what its inherent difficulties are.
We aren't going to ask for any specific ultimate goal or purpose of the part. That would get us off into searching for labels. The part is most likely a composite, it doesn't have one single purpose. Trying to find one would mislabel and generalize a bunch of things in a way that isn't very useful. However, the client should get a good idea of the general line of activity for the part, and what it is trying to accomplish.
When we have gotten all the answers available for Part A, we can switch over to Part B and do the same thing.
You could also get the activity of Part A right away when it is recognized. Then ask for the existence of Part B, and get what it is doing.
You can also get what each part decidedly is not doing, what it is holding back or trying not to do.
Depending on how smoothly we are progressing with this pair we might at any time skip ahead to the final integration step or we might do a whole lot of more actions. The facilitator would have to determine what is appropriate for that individual client and the dichotomy at hand.
It will usually not be clear to the client that each part has positive qualities, and that the other part has qualities that one part is missing. That is a key realization we will move towards.
"What are the good qualities of (part A)?", "What is it lacking?"
It is not very useful to hear what is wrong with each part and to judge it negatively. What we are after is positive qualities, or a lack of positive qualities. She MUST recognize positive qualities about each side.
Usually one side will be more troublesome than the other. We might have to reframe a few of things that a part does, and take it back to more basic purposes, to have her realize that there is a positive intent.
Along the way, the client will naturally place the two parts at the left and right of her. When positions have been established, don't mix them up. It is best if she chooses them, but you might also pick them and see how it works.
We need to get the two parts in contact with each other, so first we need to find out how much they are in contact as it is now:
"Are these two parts there at the same time, or are they taking turns?"
That might be a puzzling question at first. We need to know if one part leaves or goes dormant when the other one comes in and becomes active. Or, if they are continuously bickering at the same time. Most commonly one will mostly shut down when the other is active.
No matter if the parts are already talking or not, that is what we want them to do. We need to get them to be active to some extent at the same time so that they can interact and get more integrated with each other.
"If (part A) could talk to (part B), what would it say?"
Get one part to actually say something to the other. Do it both ways, as with all of these questions. Encourage a conversation, get the parts to answer the communication, and so forth. The client doesn't have to playact it to any great extent, but if she wants to, that is fine. Mainly she should get into the mode of listening to what they would want to say, not trying to construct it logically.
We also need to get the parts to like each other more. So, start gradually on encouraging them to do so:
"Does (part A) accept (part B)?"
"Does (part A) appreciate (part B)?"
"Does (part A) like (part B)?"
"Does (part A) admire (part B)?"
"Does (part A) love (part B)?"
Do it in both directions. Don't just get a yes/no answer. We need them to start liking each other more, we aren't moving ahead unless they do. So, dialogue about the weak points.
Essentially you are persuading each part to look at the other part, to recognize that there is something it needs over there, and to start appreciating it more. That is the lead-in to having them interact more and actually start exchanging their secrets.
If nothing else, each one can appreciate something about the other for purely selfish reasons. The other side has something they want. But we need to gradually move towards the recognition that the other part is a part of itself.
Notice that at this stage we should mostly be dealing with each part one at a time. They are different, have different views and different preferences. Appeal to each one in the language that it itself uses. Use the same tonality as it does, if possible. Use anchoring to signal which one we are talking about, like point your head in a different direction for each different part.
We are not particularly concerned about what the client thinks about this, we are dealing with the parts and simply using the conscious mind of the client as a medium. Discourage her going into stories or explanations or justifications or judgments. She can however give observations from a neutral perspective of the situation. Like, she can examine the effect of having two quarreling polarities:
"What kind of a game would develop between (Part A) and (Part B)?"
She might start realizing the ridiculousness of splitting oneself up into two imperfect packages that are in conflict with each other.
But, back to the parts themselves. Once we have recognized that both have positive qualities, and we have started them in the direction of being more willing to deal with each other, next we need to get them learning from each other.
"What could (part A) learn from (part B)?"
Each part has something the other is missing. They both need to recognize that, and they need to become willing to exchange what they've each got.
It might be necessary to negotiate an arrangement by which it can be possible to exchange qualities. You might make it clear to each one that they don't have to give anything up. They can simply learn something more that will make them more able to do what they are doing. It might be necessary to clarify what each one wants, in order to make them understand that some of the qualities of the other side would be helpful.
Have the person visualize the two sides exchanging energies.
"Can you see them exchanging information and energy?"
She doesn't have to verbalize a lot of detail about it. She rather should see it or feel it.
If they aren't already rapidly starting to blend, or there seems to be something in the way, let's find out what that can be:
"What is keeping them apart?"
That can lead to a variety of phenomenon. Most commonly we might find that an unpleasant feeling appears whenever the parts are getting close to each other. That would naturally lead to finding some incidents to re-experience. We would transform the feeling, and then get back here to the polarity integration and see how it goes now. We might also find fixed ideas that would need un-fixing. Or, there might be some kind of gizmo there that calls for some imagination processing to adjust it.
It might be that time is needed, or the client feels that this is all happening too quickly. That is fine. Then we just need to plan out how the process will continue. Maybe the two parts need to feel each other out over the next couple of weeks to see how it will work. Maybe a full integration is too big of a change and the client is getting overwhelmed, and she would rather do it in stages. Either way, it isn't a problem. Our objective is to set a direction towards more integration.
If a full merging between the parts seems appropriate, continue to encourage it. If not, keep it at the client's comfort level. She might be best served by maintaining separate parts that stay in a tight relation to each other, but have distinct advantages.
A way of speeding up a merging and making it more finite is to ask her to put out her hands, palms up, and visualize a part in each hand, watching them exchanging energy. When she confirms that she is doing that, then ask her suddenly to put her hands together. You do it yourself at the same time. That is likely to provide the impetus for them to completely integrate, if they were just about ready. Only do that way at the end of the process when it is clear that it is inevitable.
The merging is likely to happen fairly quietly. There is not likely to be any big realizations about it. Just that any chatter suddenly goes quiet and she experiences a new and different blending feeling. She might feel puzzled and not know what else to say, and that is fine. Don't analyze it.
As soon as you notice the parts beginning to blend, shift your language from being segregated between the parts to blending their qualities. Mix up their qualities a little at a time. Describe the qualities of one in the words and tonality of the other. And finally, when they are merging, drop the talk of two parts altogether. Now address your communication to the client as a whole person: "Now, if YOU have all the qualities of ....., and you can do ...., then how is your life going to be different in the future now?"
When you end off, put her attention on the future. Get her to put instances of using the integrated qualities of herself in the future. Get her to actually perceive them.
The end result is that the parts re-integrate with each other. The client will realize how each one has its place, how they are different, how they are similar, she will accept each one, and she will become willing to encompass them both. They will probably seem less separate and might actually melt together into one whole. The client might be perfectly satisfied with having started the process of integration and might feel that the rest will take place in life. That is fine, we just wish to re-establish rapport and to create as much integration as the client wishes.
The client should become able to pick the aspects of any of the sides that she wishes to use. She might wish to keep the two separate sides there to use in different situations. Or she might wish to dissolve them and have their component features be available for general use.
There are a lot of things that could be done under the heading of this Polarity Integration. However, it is really a very simple action. Two parts are separate and therefore perpetuating an aberrated condition. We do what it takes to re-integrate the parts and the condition can change.
Very importantly for new clients, the results of this approach are very visible for the client. She will not be wondering "when the actual processing starts", or "what this has to do with me". The client's cooperation is implicit and she demonstrates the result for herself. All clients I've tried it on caught on to the idea very rapidly and were quite aware of the result they got at the end. It doesn't require any indoctrination, and her questions afterwards are mostly about "why nobody told her before that it was that simple".
We will only attempt to clear a set of polarities if a part of the set is unwanted for the client. There would be no point, and it would actually be detrimental to try to take apart desirable games that the person has set up. Some polarities are better left alone if they work the way they are, in creating some action and excitement in the person's life.