Internal Double Crux

This is part 27 of 30 in the Ham­mer­time Se­quence. Click here for the in­tro.

Fo­cus­ing is a tool for ac­cess­ing the mes­sages the many sub-per­son­al­ities in your sub­con­scious are try­ing to send you. What hap­pens when two or more of these mes­sages are in con­flict with each other?

In­ter­nal Dou­ble Crux (IDC) is CFAR’s an­swer to this prob­lem. Roughly speak­ing, it’s a script for tak­ing turns Fo­cus­ing on two con­flict­ing in­ner voices and hold­ing space for them to de­bate and com­pro­mise. A sort of in­ter­nal cou­ples ther­apy, if you will.

Day 27: In­ter­nal Dou­ble Crux

I had a par­tic­u­larly hard time writ­ing this post, so I’ll defer to CFAR’s script. Then, I’ll list a bunch of points I want to em­pha­size that one would com­pletely miss read­ing this script.

It’s also pos­si­ble that what I’m do­ing is not at all the IDC that CFAR has in mind – in that case, I claim that what I’m do­ing is also use­ful.

The IDC Algorithm

Here’s the com­plete script for IDC. It’s best to get pen and pa­per and write down each step, as if you are a neu­tral ob­server record­ing a con­ver­sa­tion.

1. Find an in­ter­nal dis­agree­ment

    • A “should” that’s counter to your cur­rent de­fault action

    • Some­thing you feel you aren’t sup­posed to think or be­lieve (though se­cretly you do)

    • A step to­ward your goal that feels use­less or unpleasant

2. Oper­a­tional­ize the dis­agree­ment

    • If there are more than two sides, choose two to start with; fo­cus on what feels important

    • Choose names that are char­i­ta­ble and de­scribe the be­liefs as they feel from the in­side, rather than names that are hos­tile or judg­men­tal (e.g. the “I de­serve rest” side, not the “I’m lazy” side)

3. Seek dou­ble cruxes

    • Check for ur­gency

      • Is one side more im­pa­tient or emo­tion­ally salient than the other? Does one side need to “speak first”?

      • Is one side more vuln­er­a­ble to dis­mis­sal or mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion (i.e. it’s the sort of thing you don’t al­low your­self to think or feel, be­cause it’s wrong or stupid or im­prac­ti­cal or vague or oth­er­wise out­side of your iden­tity)?

    • Seek an un­der­stand­ing of one side

      • Let whichever side feels more im­pa­tient “ex­plain it­self” – why does it feel right or im­por­tant to re­act in this way?

      • What things does the other side not un­der­stand about the world, that this side does? Why can’t the other view­point be trusted – what’s bad about let­ting it call the shots?

    • Seek an un­der­stand­ing of the other side

      • Check for res­o­nance with what the other side just said – did any of it ring true from the sec­ond per­spec­tive?

      • What things does the first side not un­der­stand about the world? Why can’t it be trusted – why would it be bad if only its pri­ori­ties were taken into ac­count?

4. Res­onate

    • Con­tinue to ask each side to speak and sum­ma­rize the per­spec­tive of the other, un­til both mod­els have in­cor­po­rated the ra­tio­nales un­der­ly­ing the other’s conclusions

    • Imag­ine the re­s­olu­tion as an if-then state­ment, and use your in­ner sim and other checks to see if ei­ther side has any un­spo­ken hes­i­ta­tions about the truth and com­plete­ness of that statement

Fo­cus­ing is the Ac­tive Ingredient

Where the script says “fo­cus on what feels im­por­tant,” it means Fo­cus­ing. By far the most im­por­tant step in IDC is find­ing felt senses for each side of the ar­gu­ment and con­struct­ing True Names for them via Fo­cus­ing.

IDC is a par­tic­u­lar type of Fo­cus­ing cen­tered around al­ter­nat­ing be­tween two felt senses, try­ing to ar­tic­u­late their re­la­tion­ship to­wards each other. Try to act as the neu­tral mod­er­a­tor be­tween both these senses, and give each time to speak. Dur­ing the Res­onate step, it is likely that you will ex­pe­rience some kind of “felt shift,” or else the lo­cus of dis­agree­ment will change. That is to say, you will un­cover via IDC a deeper un­der­ly­ing con­flict be­tween the two voices. At this point, take the time to re­fo­cus on each side and come up with new names.

The first IDC I tried started with two plainly-named sides “I should floss” and “Floss­ing is a waste of time.” After fur­ther fo­cus­ing and felt shifts, the two sides sound more like “Floss­ing is a rit­ual of self-care show­ing my­self I de­serve love” and “Floss­ing is one of in­finitely many im­po­si­tions by which my par­ents want to cur­tail my liberty.” The un­der­ly­ing con­flict fi­nally emerges!

To me, the point of IDC is to gen­er­ate a use­ful set of Fo­cus­ing prompts. In­ter­nal con­flict cre­ates felt senses like noth­ing else!

Seek Fu­sion, Not Compromise

As you al­ter­nate be­tween the two in­ter­nal voices, make sure to voice some note of char­i­ta­bil­ity to­wards the other side. This does not mean that you should com­pro­mise naively. In gen­eral, you should ex­pect the two sides to both have im­por­tant data to con­tribute, and one of the end goals is to learn some gen­eral rule which con­tains each side as spe­cial cases.

How­ever emo­tional the con­flict feels, fol­low this prin­ci­ple: con­flict­ing val­ues are usu­ally based on con­flict­ing be­liefs about re­al­ity. Each side of your in­ter­nal con­flict has a differ­ent set of be­liefs about re­al­ity which in­fluences the way they be­lieve you should act.

For ex­am­ple, if I tried to start an IDC be­tween the two sides of me say­ing, re­spec­tively, “I want to be more ex­tro­verted” and “Peo­ple are dan­ger­ous and awful,” progress might be made by al­low­ing each side to list times hu­man be­ings have been good and evil to me. Fu­sion might look like “It’s cor­rect to avoid so-and-so situ­a­tions and types of peo­ple where peo­ple act par­tic­u­larly an­tag­o­nis­ti­cally, while here are a few spe­cific peo­ple I don’t in­ter­act with who I ob­vi­ously want to.”

Fif­teen Minutes of IDC

Set a Yoda Timer for 15 min­utes. Pick as small of an in­ter­nal con­flict as pos­si­ble and try to IDC it.

Daily Challenge

In IDC as in life, ar­gu­ments are rarely about what they seem to be about. Do­ing the dishes is not about the dishes. Floss­ing is not about den­tal care.

Most small con­flicts are just bat­tles in rag­ing wars be­tween two gi­ant elephants in the brain. Share an ex­am­ple of this phe­nomenon that you un­cov­ered through IDC (or oth­er­wise).