Example 2: The Pusher


He has achieved a lot in life. He is 35 years old, has successfully set up a business in the communications sector, and employs twenty people.

He would like an answer to the question why he is always tired and lacking energy, and out of inspiration. He has been referred to us by a friend who has gone through the same thing, and is familiar in working with polarities.


The first session


When Marten arrives for his first session, he is not far from having a nervous breakdown. Together, we examine which values are important to him. They turn out to be more than a few, for his strongly developed sides are:

  • working hard, perfectionism and taking one’s responsibility;
  • being liked.

Jointly, we establish that this combination of values offers every chance of having a nervous breakdown, and may explain why Marten is feeling the way he does.

Giving voice


Next, he gives a ‘voice’ to one of his developed parts, the ‘hard worker’.

By engaging in conversation with this part, it becomes clear where the origin of the ‘hard worker’ lies, and what makes him tick. As a result, Marten will later on be able to better recognise this side of himself, as it appears. And something else happens, too, by giving a ‘voice’ to this part. Giving this side of himself all the space in the world, will allow him to take himself less seriously. It is as if the ‘voice’ exhausts itself and permits his opposite to appear.

Marten then experiences his other, less developed side. He feels sad and tired, and sees no way out. Nevertheless, he decides to keep examining this part and thus develop it further. He will spend more time doing his own things, doing nothing and being alone. At this point it is a conscious choice for him, something completely different from having a nervous breakdown and involuntarily ‘shifting’ to the other side by becoming ill and powerless. In this way he learns to take care of his vulnerability by himself, instead of letting his primary survival pattern deal with it.


Making space


In the next session, Marten examines how it will be if he is more often at home, taking time off for himself, having less social obligations. Will people still like him? For that was one of his values, too: ‘being liked’.

He wants to try to find a balance, within a ‘healthy egoism’. 
We list Marten’s polarities once more:

  • working hard, perfectionism and taking responsibility, as opposed to ‘letting it happen’ and ‘letting go’, or ‘not everything needs to be finished all the time’;
  • the need to be liked, as opposed to ‘setting limits’ and ‘putting yourself in first place’.

The primary parts (the concepts on the left side) of Marten do not have to disappear, on the contrary, they belong to him. But having too much of them is not healthy, as he has experienced. It appears important to find a balance with the other side, the right side. This becomes possible because Marten has become aware of his vulnerability and his fears, which were protected by the survival pattern and which he can now deal with himself. Marten decides to keep the weekends for himself, to delegate more at work, plan his time with more discretion (for instance, limit the amount of business dinners) and in general have much more fun.