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Solutions for Complex Conflict - Page 2
Ending Confusion Martyn Carruthers 2002 Soulwork Croatia / Hrvatska

Transcript recorded and transcribed by Ana Pejcinova, PhD

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This transcript was recorded during a seminar in Poland by Martyn Carruthers about helping people resolve deep conflict. A portion of this transcript was cut and posted at
How children create complex conflict.

People suffering obsessions or compulsions often find a predictable structure of underlying conflicts, with a sense of cognitive dissonance and unaligned emotions. Here is an example of helping a person explore a deep conflict.

Jan is a businessman about 45 years old.
He and Martyn agreed to explore Jan's conflict about his smoking habit.

Page 1  ...  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5

Page 2 - Conflict Resolution Transcript

Explore One Side of Conflict

Martyn: What motivates you to smoke?

Jan: It is like the deepest need of my organism.

Martyn: Where would you feel this deepest need of your organism?

Jan: It is on my right side.

Martyn: Good, Jan, imagine you can see on your right side this deepest need of your organism for smoking. What would it look like?

Jan: Like a clown.

Martyn: A big clown? A little clown?

Jan: A big one.

Martyn: And what would the big clown say to you?

Jan: He says, "Let's have fun!"

Martyn: Great, does the big clown motivate you to enjoy life?

Jan: [nods his head with a smile]

Explore Other Side of Conflict: Part 2

Martyn: Now you can see what motivates you to smoke. And, on the other side, what is your motivation to not smoke? What would that look like?

Jan: Like a very beautiful white birch tree.

Martyn: And is that birch tree big or little?

Jan: Quite big.

Martyn: How do you feel when you look towards this big white birch tree?

Jan: Super!

Explore Integration of Parts 1 and 2

Martyn: Take a moment to look at them both together: the clown on your right, and the white birch on your left: two different ways to enjoy life. Too bad that they cannot work together. Now you can have all of the fun of the clown, or the peaceful beauty of the white birch tree. [Pause] What would your life be like, if these two sides of you could find a way to work together - to be together?

Jan: I would feel totally resourceful, open and joyful.

Martyn: How would your life change if you live like that?

Jan: I think ... ummm ... [Jan's muscles relax and he gazes into space]

Martyn: Thank you, Jan. I'll talk to the class for a minute.

Theory of Identity Conflict

Martyn: [to class] Coaching conflict can be complex, so I'll break it into steps. On one side Jan [points to Jan's right] finds motivation to smoke, and on the other side of him [points to Jan's left] is motivation to not smoke, and Jan lives with this double motivation. He can feel good when he smokes, and he can feel good when he doesn't smoke. But he experiences conflict when he decides which to do.

You could call the clown a "personality side" of Jan, or you can call it a "part" or "ego state" or a "complex". Jan describes the qualities of the white birch tree on the left. As Jan looks at his representation of his future, he sees fog between him and the future he wants to live.

During conflict coaching, you can probably find two conscious parts quickly, two motivations towards two conflicting behaviors. Often a person likes one side and dislikes the other: [opens one palm, as if holding a "part" and speaks with an enthusiastic voice] "This is the side of me that wants me to be healthy, [opens the other palm and speaks with a disgusted voice] and this is the bad side of me that makes me eat cake." Many clients say things like, "Help me get rid of a horrible side of me!"

Imagine that I am your client and I'm talking to you directly: I say "I have a bad part of me that makes me do a bad thing, and I want you to help me kill it and throw it away." What's your next step?

Student: "What are the benefits of the horrible part?"

Martyn: Good! [acts client] Benefits? What do you mean by benefits? I can't stop X, but - I hate that part of me! There can be no benefits from doing it, it's killing me, it's antisocial.

Student: Not benefits from doing it, but benefits from killing that part.

Martyn: Good question. [acts as a client] If you cut it away, I could forget about it entirely... [to student] What would be your next step?

Student: What does this part want to tell you? [Jan's left hand twitches but he still gazes into space]

Martyn: Good! [acts as a client] Eugh! It makes me sick. I don't like it!

Martyn: Often a client will like only one part [acts client]: "There's a beautiful part of me that wants me to be happy, and there's a dark side of me that makes me feel sad." Or "I want to live and I hate the part of me that has cancer," Or "I want peace but there is a demon in me that makes me angry," Or "I dream of harmony but I have an aggressive side that destroys my relationships."

In my opinion, many people pay us to make friends with their own parts that they do not like. And then we can introduce those parts to our clients in friendly ways. Sometimes one part of a person is also identified with someone else - a person may jump in and out of deep sadness or rage or anxiety as they change their identifications.

We had a client who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. We ... maybe we don't understand what schizophrenia meant to the psychiatrist who referred her to us. This woman seemed to have a part that was frightened, and she hated feeling fear. For two hours, all we did was to make friends with her fearful side. Then she could feel protected by her fear and we could discuss and plan her life goals.

(Months later this woman appears mentally healthy and takes no medication - see psychosis)

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Jan [sighs and starts looking around]

For example, [To Jan] would you like to continue researching your conflict?

Jan [smiles and nods]

Jan, on your right side of you there was a motivation to smoke, a clown, and on the left side there was motivation to be healthy, a beautiful white birch tree. I wonder what the clown would say about the white birch tree?

Jan: That it is beautiful.

Martyn: If the birch tree could talk; what would the birch say about the clown?

Jan: That it is so jovial.

Martyn: What does the clown know? What can the birch learn from the clown about life?

Jan: That it is possible to live life with joy, that life means joy.

Martyn: Can you ask the tree, would it like the clown to teach it about the joy of life?

Jan: It does, and in the same time it knows that it is important to find all joy of life.

Martyn: A wise tree! And what does the clown need to learn from the birch tree about life?

Jan: It is not necessary to be a clown all the time - it is enough to be a clown for performances only.

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To readers: thank you for reading this far. Your attention is a compliment.
Please email us some of your own experiences.

Plagiarism is theft Martyn Carruthers 2002-2018
All rights reserved. Transcribed by Dr Ana Pejcinova

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email