A human being’s internal experience is not a singular, unified “thing”. We don’t simply have one thought, feeling, or desire, we have many. Sometimes, in fact quite often, these components of our inner world contradict each other. For example, we may resent a family member yet feel guilty about our resentment. We may want to get in shape yet want to avoid the discomfort that comes with doing just that.

It may be helpful to think of one’s internal world as an amalgamation of “parts”. A “part” of me wants to break up; a “part” of me wants to stay together (and perhaps a “part” of me is worried I won’t find someone better). A “part” of me desires change; a “part” of me does not.

Quite often, we are conscious of one “part” but less so of the “part(s)” opposing it. For example, we may be aware of the “part” of us that wants to fall in love. When asked about this “part” we may speak at length and be quite articulate. However, at the same time we may be somewhat blind to the “part(s)” of us that resist intimacy. When asked about these “parts” we may not know what to say.

When one’s “parts” are pulling them in too many different directions at once they may become emotionally overwhelmed, and perhaps confused by their own decisions and behaviour. Therapy provides one with the opportunity to get to know the many different “parts” of oneself. Then, and only then, can a fair negotiation within one’s internal world take place.