to Do with Conflicting
Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.
In Part One of this series we talked about how many schools of
psychological theory involve the notion that individual
personalities are made up of many different parts. And as I
indicated in that article, it doesn’t matter if this is true or
not. What is important is that using the idea that we are made up of
many different parts is USEFUL. It is very useful to identify these
parts to have a better understanding of yourself. Also, often times
different parts of ourselves are in conflict, which causes a
multitude of negative situations. If you did not do the exercise
from Part One, please do that now. (Click here to link to that
So let’s say you have discovered you have certain conflicting parts.
What do you do about them? The exercises for resolving conflict are
give in Volume 3 of the Peak Performance Home Study Course, but I
thought I would give you another example of the value of such
negotiations. The following example comes from one of my clients
whose name has been changed to provide anonymity.
Henry had made great progress in his trading, but he was convinced there
was some part of him sabotaging his trading. And he just didn’t
know who it was. However, he had given me several clues. First of
all, he said that his father was an alcoholic who had left the
family when he was an adolescent. Part of the progress Henry made
had come from forgiving his father. Nevertheless, Henry was
convinced there was a self-sabotage part. For example, he said that
sometimes he would avoid taking system trades and at other time he
would take trades that were not part of his system—yet when he did
so, he knew he would probably lose.
I asked him to do the parts party. He said that when he tried to bring up
his parts, the first one to come up was a blank slate.
He said he couldn’t get much information out of the slate;
it was just there and it seemed to demand to be there. And since he
couldn’t get any information out of the slate, he just stopped
looking for the self-sabotage part.
how the exercise progressed:
Tharp: Let’s first bring up your trader part and put it in one hand. Then bring up the part of you that is sabotaging your trading and put it in the other
What happened was a swashbuckler first appeared in his right hand and his father appeared in his left hand. The swashbuckler was clearly the trader, but when I asked him what he was trying to do for Henry he responded, “Provide excitement.”
[The other part is] my father. When he was intoxicated in public,
people we knew, successful people, would laugh at him. I guess this
part of me is just trying to prevent me from being like those
successful people who laughed at him. Actually, when I think about
it my father and the swashbuckler have been working together. My
father tells him how to trade and the trader (swashbuckler) is just
But you’ve already been successful in your career. Who was
responsible for that? You are very organized. Perhaps that blank
slate was responsible for that organization. Why don’t you put
your trader part and your father part together on one hand (he puts
them in his left hand) and bring out the blank slate. Now ask the
blank slate what his intention is for Henry and if he has been the
one who was responsible for your success in the past.
He’s been my organizer part. He’s like a bulletin board that I
organized all my engineering projects upon. And now that I’m
asking him, I’m sure he was responsible for my past successes as
Now, negotiate between the blank slate and the trader. Would the
swashbuckler be willing to give up trading if he could find more
satisfactory ways of obtaining excitement that the other parts will
support? And under those conditions will the blank slate be willing
to take over the trading role and provide his high level of
(after thinking for a few minutes): The swashbuckler has already
come up with a number of ways to get excitement that the other parts
can support. And since the other parts support him, in fact applaud
him, he is quite willing to give up trading to the blank slate. And
the blank slate is willing to take over the trading role. He says he
was just waiting until he was told to do so.
How do the other parts feel about that?
The father part objects because he’s afraid that I’ll become
like those people who laughed at him.
Would he be willing to support the new organization if the other
parts agreed to dedicate your trading success to your father? And
will the other parts agree to do that?
Wow, the other parts are really excited about that! And so is the
Good, and the father part could also look for new ways to celebrate
Yes, he feels really good about that!
And how do all the parts feel now?
Excellent! I’m sure this will work.
Intention of Parts
Quite often a trader will come upon a part, such as the father part
sabotaging trading in the previous example, that they cannot imagine
as having a positive intention for themselves. In the example given,
my client had already done a lot of work forgiving his father for
leaving the family when he was young or he would have also had a
hard time dealing with this part. As a result, I want to
re-emphasize that you created all of your parts. You would not have
created any parts had you not had a positive intention for doing so
at the time. In the example, the mental image of the father was part
of who this person was, and his job was protecting his image. Many
people have parts representing people in their past that they have
trouble forgiving. Remember that this particular part of you is not
that person. It is your internal representation of that person.
Certain parts have a strong influence on a person’s self-esteem. These
self-esteem parts—such as those parts of you that represent people
you have trouble forgiving—are very hard to deal with by yourself.
Second, most of these parts block your true perception of who you
are by providing you with a lot of fear and anger. Yet even these
parts have positive intentions.
from the Peak Performance Home Study Course.
Van Tharp: Trading coach, and author, Dr. Van K. Tharp is widely
recognized for his best-selling book Trade Your Way to Financial
Freedom and his outstanding Peak Performance Home Study program
- a highly regarded classic that is suitable for all levels of
traders and investors. You can learn more about Van Tharp at www.iitm.com.