Internal Double Crux

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Introduction [20 minutes]

We have all experienced this. You want to do a thing, but you also have a very strong sense of not wanting to do that thing. On one hand, you want to do laundry so you can have clean clothes. On the other hand, doing laundry is tedious enough that you wish you didn’t have to do it. This internal conflict is annoying at best, crippling at worst.

Those of you who have done our Taste and Shaping workshop will already be familiar with this issue. Internal Double Crux is one possible technique to use in the “Shaping” portion of that.

This exercise has its roots in the Internal Family Systems model of psychology:

...the mind is made up of multiple parts, and underlying them is a person's core or true Self. Like members of a family, a person's inner parts can take on extreme roles or subpersonalities. Each part has its own perspective, interests, memories, and viewpoint. A core tenet of IFS is that every part has a positive intent, even if its actions are counterproductive and/or cause dysfunction. There is no need to fight with, coerce, or eliminate parts; the IFS method promotes internal connection and harmony to bring the mind back into balance.

This may seem like a “weird” idea; after all, we don’t experience life as a collection of parts, but as a single unified “self”. This facade falls apart when you start to dive more deeply into introspection. Furthermore, this is simply one framework among many. You don’t need to think that you are composed of many independent sentient people (ala ‘Inside Out’) in order to benefit from this framework.

Discussion [20 minutes]

In order to better understand this exercise, discuss any experience you have had with exploring the various parts of yourself. Experience with meditation often provides insight here. Or, alternatively, do any of you disagree with the premise? How would you rephrase it to clarify what is happening?

Internal Double Crux Step 1 and 2 [20 minutes]

To perform internal double crux (IDC), start by identifying an instance of internal conflict. Then, find names to the "sides" of the conflict. Ask them to name themselves, or, if they're not independent enough to do so, give them a charitable name.

Example. Suppose that your conflict is "I want to do the dishes, but I can't bring myself to". Then, your two sides' might be wants to do the dishes and doesn't want to. An example of charitable names for the sides might be Cleanliness and Rest — notice how both names describe the position in positive terms, rather than being an insulting term such as "laziness".

Discussion [20 minutes]

To whatever extent you are comfortable, share an internal conflict you have been struggling with. Seek advice from the other cohort members present as to how you would identify and name the various sides.

Internal Double Crux Step 3 [30 minutes]

Now that you've identified a conflict and the shards responsible for it, look for “Cruxes”. A Crux is short-hand for “A reason for holding a position, such that a change in that reason would change the position”.

For those of you who have done our Street Epistemology workshop, this will sound familiar. This is, in fact, the best way to use Street Epistemology on yourself. Simply port over the techniques into here. For those of you who haven’t done that workshop, we recommend reviewing it, but we will summarize some of the ideas here:

  1. Above all else, this is a collaborative search for truth. Every side (shard) should be represented fairly. Trying to “beat down” a part of you is as destructive as it is futile.
  2. This is going to feel weird at first, but establish rapport. Learn about the part you are speaking with, apart from the subject at-hand. For example, try to identify if one part has a greater sense of urgency than the others, or if it sounds hurt or vulnerable.
  3. If one side was particularly urgent, let it start by explaining its perspective on the issue. Ask open-ended questions to allow it to summarize its position, to make sure you understand what it thinks. Ask questions like “What do you understand about the world that the other side(s) misses?” Repeat back its position until it agrees with your summary. Repeat this process with the other side(s) until all perspectives are shared.
  4. Keep asking open-ended questions to find areas of overlap; key facts or beliefs that if they changed both sides would change their beliefs.

Discussion [30 minutes]

Discuss other techniques for identifying Cruxes. Those of you who have taken the SE workshop should lead the discussion. Also discuss times when you identified Cruxes in everyday conversation with other people.

Internal Double Crux, Step 4 [20 minutes]

After identifying cruxes, it's time to seek integration. It is tempting to try and find a “compromise” between the sides, and sometimes that is what you will end up doing. However, it should be downstream of mutual understanding.

Both sides must understand each other and repair their relationship. They have to regain trust in the other, and view each other as teammates with the same goals and values. Even if the disagreement is not resolved, you can still make progress by fostering understanding and empathy. This often creates a sensation of “healing”, associated with a calmness and certitude of purpose.

Discussion [20 minutes]

What does “integration” mean to you? How would you identify it? If you have experienced it before, share what that felt like and if it was useful to you.


This is a more detailed writeup by CFAR, the creators of the technique.

Here is an example of IDC that I did several years ago. I discovered that anxiety around failure was preventing me from being the person I needed to be, so I used IDC to try and resolve that issue. In this example, I also used my sense of self (“Prime”) as an impartial moderator. This was a personal decision and not usually a part of the exercise.

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