Polarization in IFS

When two parts are polarized, it means they are opposed to each other.Polarization in IFS

They are attempting to act in opposite ways, such as staying versus going or working versus relaxing. They form a polarity. However, polarization is more than just a polarity; polarized parts are also fighting against each other’s goals. For example, a part that wants to eat a lot would be actively fighting against the dieting that comes from another part. Furthermore, each polarized part is convinced that it must take an extreme stand in order to counter the destructive actions of the other part.

Even though polarized parts may be extreme, they often hold an energy or quality that is important for you. For example, one common kind of polarization is between a part that wants to connect with people and a part that wants to be assertive, both of which are valuable qualities. Another widespread polarization is between the energies of safety/order and autonomy/freedom.

You don’t want to erase or diminish the positive energy of either polarized part. You want to have access to each one’s energy in a non-extreme form.

In resolving polarization, you aren’t looking to just find a bland compromise between the parts or a negotiated settlement that is purely intellectual. The goal is to have your parts appreciate each other’s strengths and good intentions, work through their extreme protective roles, and learn to cooperate with each other. This gives you much greater access to your creativity and power and also makes it possible for you to come up with an innovative solution to the inner conflict that is satisfying to both parts. When the Self can hold space for two polarized parts to work together, a dynamic, transformative process results.

For more information, see Self-Therapy, Vol. 2, chapters 4 and 5, or Resolving Inner Conflict.

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