Integrating Systems Thinking, Polarity Thinking, & IFS



Hi everyone, I hope you’re well.

I’ve been getting IFS therapy recently at the same time I’ve been reading about polarity thinking and systems thinking for the first time. Does anyone have any experience using polarity thinking and systems thinking as a way of decreasing the polarisation/incoherence between their own “sub-personalities”?

My thought process is this: One of the things I’ve read so far in systems thinking is that all good systems have a harmonisation of sub-purposes within that system. For example, if the sub-purposes of the players, coach, fans, and owners aren’t harmonised in a football team, that can lead to undesirable behaviour. If I’m looking at myself as a system, I can see there’s a huge degree of incoherence between the different sub-personalities and therefore a lack of harmonisation between their sub-purposes - hence why my actions seem to be so incoherent all the time.

Then, if I think about that lack of harmonisation through the lens of polarity thinking, it makes me think the incoherence could be caused by the sub-personalities centralising different values. For example:

  • One sub-personality says I shouldn’t risk doing an art installation in case it fails. The centralised value for that seems to be SAFETY and the fear is that I’m going to get hurt and embarrass myself.

  • Another sub-personality says I should do the art installation because I need to push my comfort zone and grow. The centralised value for that seems to be RISK/GROWTH and the fear is that I’m going to waste my life and regret everything.

I don’t imagine the incoherence between them could be reduced to value differences (or maybe it could, I don’t know) but it seems like it’d be a good thing to try - almost treating the sub-personalities as autonomous beings with different values. That’s been my thinking anyway, I’d be appreciative to hear if anyone else has tried this/had this line of reasoning.

Peace and love.

P.S. My understanding of systems thinking is very limited so if I’ve misrepresented it there that’ll be why.