If you can, establish a kind of written conversation with these parts of self. It doesn't matter if it's all imaginary -- you'll still be learning about your inner life. Mental imagery: If you are good at seeing mental images, you may find mental imagery a useful approach. What's this project about, for you? I didn't know what to say. I started giving a vague, abstract description. Words were coming out of my mouth, but I had no idea what they meant. Did I have any idea what I was spending this year doing, and why? What is your role in this? Again, I had no idea. Was I Edward Norton's character in Fight Club, having my life taken over by my own Swedish version of Tyler Durden? Carl, April 11 So how have you been? I am eternally grateful she is occupied for the moment and that there is no sign of Blair and friends. We run halfway around the track again before Luis says anything else. How do you know Raylene? She's my cousin. He nods, and we jog on around the bend. My breath is coming in quick gasps. She's crazy.

I manage to get it out between pants. Duh, he says, and laughs. I like the sound of it and find myself laughing with him. Here's a place to start: Empty chair: Sit facing an empty chair. Imagine that the chair is occupied by someone else, or a part of yourself. Say what you need to say to that person or part. Listen for any response from the imagined person or part. If there is, have a conversation. You may want to ask some of the questions listed in the mental imagery exercise above. The point is to try to establish communications with your inner parts. Once you've established a link, you may want to discuss what role your various parts play in the conflict with your partner. In particular, find out whether all the parts are in agreement, or whether some parts are misrepresenting themselves as speaking for your entire psyche. Not good. No, why? I explained the situation. Andre was accusing me of all sorts of things. He said I had forced him to give a talk at Speakers' Corner, which was not true, and that I had enjoyed seeing him humiliated, which was not true, and that I was now training at a boxing club so I could beat him up when we would meet in Paris. Another lie. You know what, I've had enough of this.

I'm going to pull the plug now. Quit the project. Are you sure? Surprises me. I can still laugh. Yeah, me and Raylene are going to be best friends, I say, and Luis's smile fades at my sarcastic tone. You could do worse, he says. I change the subject. How did Mr. Paulson's viewing go the other week? His daughter was surprised by the number of girlfriends. She had no idea her dad was so popular. But there wasn't a big scene, so that was good. Our internal differences raise issues that need to be addressed, and these encounters with the various parts of our personality can be a source of much learning. Modern consciousness researchers tell us that the human personality is composed of different ego states, parts, or selves, which interact in different ways with the world and people around us. Various schools of psychotherapy have described these parts in different ways. The conflicts between a couple may have less to do with deep philosophical differences than with particular parts of yourselves being engaged in a power struggle. Each of you may have a part of the personality that is speaking as if it represents the total personality, drowning out other parts of you that might feel very differently. A trained therapist, or exercises you undertake on your own, can help you identify the parts of yourself that may be involved in these conflicts and establish communication with them. The Value of Being Different

Accept that differences can make your relationships richer. People often feel threatened by the fact that their loved ones have separate realities. They may fear that to be different is to be separate; I don't know. All I know is that things can't go on like this. Also, it's come to my attention that he's been speaking about me to a mutual friend, explaining how I'm bossing him around and doing everything I can to make him feel bad. How does that make you feel? Maybe you need a pause. Maybe you should stop talking to Andre for a week or so. Andre, April 18 When the therapist called, she began by asking how my week had been. Things have improved, I said. I didn't want to mention the fact that Carl had not been talking to me for most of the week. We come around the turn and Ross sprints across the football field again to make another gravity-defying catch. He's good, I say. Now there's no trace of a smile on Luis's face. Lots of natural talent and lots of practice. He's had a ball in his hands since he could walk. How do you know that? You don't even speak to each other.

Luis's face is hard, closed. I don't ask any questions about Ross. Instead I ask, Are you going to take over the family business someday? These are fears, not facts. Actually, the stronger the relationship, the more differences you can handle. Think of any argument that you've ever had that was actually fun. It was probably with an old and dear friend. You knew that no matter what position either of you took, you'd still be friends afterward. When a relationship is solid, your argument is about a specific subject, not whether the relationship will continue. When the relationship is insecure, everything you say could jeopardize it. You can see this when you are just getting to know people. What you say could determine whether you will be friends, so you are cautious about expressing your views. All couples have disagreements. I've been trying to focus on my behavioral patterns, especially my avoidance. Why avoidance? Well, I think I often avoid things that are hard. Even small things. I often put them off until it is just about too late. Why is that, you think? I commit to things, and then I pull back.