Internal Double Crux

by radimentary

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).