Many, many, years ago I remember being stuck in an internal struggle. Eight months prior to this dilemma, I had been given what I considered to be the opportunity of a lifetime; my dream job. The director of a hugely successful company offered me a place in her award-winning team. It was an amazing eight months in which I found myself contributing as a team member to some amazing, innovative projects that were incredibly exciting.
The dilemma came about when a competitor in the industry approached me and asked me to join his company, not as a team member but as the team leader. I was stunned to find myself in this situation so quickly as I was a relative newcomer to this industry. 72 hours was all I had to make up my mind and either accept or reject the offer.
My inner turmoil must have been more obvious than I thought as a friend asked me bluntly, “What’s up? You haven’t been focussed over the past couple of days. You have to pull yourself together and get back on track.”
I was about to fall into the denial and excuse mode but then his words connected at a deeper level. Pull Yourself Together. That is exactly what I had to do. My thinking was fragmented and in parts. I literally had to Pull Myself Together again.
NLP gives a simple model to use when we want to Pull Ourselves Together and it is called Parts Integration. Think of this integration as conflict resolution for your problem thinking. Once we can negotiate our conflicting parts to a workable solution, we can resolve our external conflicts as well.
The Steps to Parts Integration
Step 1 – Clearly identify the parts that are conflicting with each other.
In my case one part wanted me to say yes to the new opportunity and the other part felt I needed to wait a bit longer and remain loyal to the person that gave me my first opportunity, such a short time ago.
Step 2 – Communicate with the parts.
Often our first response is to ignore the conflicting parts or even worse, get angry at them. It is important to remember that these parts, no matter how challenging, are aspects of ourselves and they are, in their own way, trying to get the best outcome for us.
Focus on each part individually and get a sense of the positive intention behind the thinking. You might get a feeling, an image or even sounds that represent the intention of the part. This might not come quickly so be patient and be receptive to the smallest sensations.
Do this with each part openly and honestly and you will have better information to work with to resolve the conflict and make a well-formed decision.
For me, one part knew this was my goal, to lead up my own team and I was ready for this challenge. The other part in my conflict wanted me to be respectful to my current employer and felt that I had not adequately paid for her investment in me.
Step 3 – Dissociate from the parts in the conflict.
NLP considers dissociation as stepping back from the emotional attachment and seeing the issue at a distance, as if it is on a television set. You no longer see it through your own eyes.
This step can be a little challenging the first time you attempt it so be patient and you will get there. What you are trying to do is put the situation at arm’s length and this is exactly how you will achieve it.
Stretch out your arms, holding your palms up. Place each of the conflicting parts on one of your hands by feel. Sense which part should go on which hand by relaxing and paying attention to your body’s reactions.
Step 4 – Talk to the parts.
You now must decide which part you will listen to first. Both parts will be heard, but only one at a time.
Again, listen to your body for guidance on this choice. Will you choose to speak first to the part that is telling you to ‘act now’, ‘stop procrastinating’, ‘this is the break you have been working for’ or will you listen first to the voice that says, ‘you are not ready yet’, ‘you owe your current employer for what they have given to you’?
Either way both sides will be heard, uninterrupted by the other. Fully explore the offerings of each part.
Step 5 – Seek the positive intention of each part.
As stated earlier, each part does have an intention to bring about a positive outcome. At this step you are asking just that; what positive outcome are you offering me?
The unconscious mind responds through our senses so pay attention to images, sounds and feelings that you may experience during this step. You are not judging, merely noticing. Work with each part in turn and give it all the time it needs.
This step should not be rushed. As I worked through this step, I realised that I did not want to lose the respect I had from my current boss and my colleagues. The other part wanted me to realise the dream I had been pursuing for a long time and to take the offer.
Step 6 – Integrate the parts.
It is now time to seek unity through compromise in the parts. The goal here is to determine how the positive intention of each part can enhance the other, currently conflicting part.
Just as you would ask someone how you can assist them when they are in difficulty, you will now ask the parts to help each other to achieve the positive intentions sought. This sharing and supporting between the parts will bring congruence through harmony instead of the anguish of conflict.
When going through this step, it is not unusual to feel your hands moving together as if the parts were literally integrating. In fact, you can enhance the effect by consciously moving your hands together during this step.
My issue was resolved easily, by realising that I gave 100% every day in my current role. Several successful projects had been my initiative I and never taken any sick leave. The transition would be made easier as I would also be there to assist in the handover of my role to the new person. I would not just be walking off. The decision could now be made with the unity of the parts.
Living with Integrated Parts
If we keep in mind that when we talk of Parts, we are talking metaphorically of our personal incongruence, which presents itself as internal conflict, we will understand that reconciliation of the separate parts will overcome the power struggle we are having with ourselves. At an unconscious level we align the differing values and beliefs each part represents, and we can unify the higher intention that is desired by both viewpoints. It is not compromise but true alignment that brings peace to our minds.
When our parts are aligned and working in congruence, we are more likely to be living a life of greater resourcefulness and satisfaction. People who take an NLP practitioner training find they become better problem solvers, meet their goals quicker, and are able to build stronger relationships.
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