resolving rpg polar tensions

Implementing Healing Principles

In the rpg model there are 6 sets of tensions to resolve at the poles of three axes (tensions diagram). The basic idea is that by resolving each specific tension identified in the model a specific principle gets implemented. As each principle gets successfully implemented another part of the healing process falls into place creating readiness to move to the next healing principle. At its heart rpg is system designed to operationalize a developmental healing process. Here are the 6 sets of tensions.

1st. acknowledgement vs denial

How do we go about telling the truth when it is hard to do? The intent of rpg is to provide the structure and tools necessary to facilitate Truth-telling. The principle that is perhaps the most foundational to healing our deepest wounds is telling the truth of our own narrative.

When “acknowledgement” wins out over “denial” in the rpg model we have succeeded in a positive resolution. On the other hand if denial wins over the acknowledgement of truth rpg regards this as a negative resolution, and an outcome that hinders the healing process from the start. As painful as the truth can be, it is the foundation of the healing process. A positive resolution (acknowledgement) facilitates healing. A negative resolution (denial) sabotages the healing process before it can even begin.

2nd. dialogue vs isolation

For the truth to be fully known it must be heard. Bearing witness to another person’s truth creates a dialogue. Without active listening we remain in isolation from one another. The greatest challenge to hearing the truth when the truth is painful is to keep the dialogue from breaking down. A breakdown here would result in more injury and isolation. The positive resolution dialogue naturally moves the healing process to the next set of tensions.

3rd. active grieving vs dysfunctional grief

Listening to and talking about another person’s truth can be hard to hear and may bring up grief, especially for the speaker. Grief is the road to change.

Grief and grieving are often misunderstood in our culture. We want to distance ourselves from grief because it is painful. As a result healthy grieving gets avoided. Healthy grieving has never been role modeled for some of us. What most of us call grief is actually dysfunctional grieving. Often we do not even know we are grieving. We only know that we feel terrible. When grieving is marginalized and disenfranchised it makes us sick. It destroys us from the inside. Change is roadblocked. As hard as it is, healthy grieving is the road out of the suffering. It is not only a healing path, it is what brings us to very unexpected places. As grieving heals us we can see things we didn’t (and couldn’t) see before. A new dream emerges out of the ashes of a broken dream  and brings us to the next set of tensions.

4th. restructuring vs dysfunctional coping

Healthy grieving empowers us to see ourselves living out a different future.  The positive resolution of restructuring represents major shifts within the self. The self gets dismantled and reorganized. Internal restructuring takes the broken pieces and puts them together a deepened, more matured self. We learn that there was a purpose to the pain of grieving. It is a birthing process that empowers us to see where to go from here. We get in touch with our truest self. The power to envision a different future is a giant step forward in finding the way home.

5th. forgiveness vs unforgiveness

There remains perhaps the greatest barrier to rewriting a new ending to the story: unforgiveness. Living out our life in dignity is compromised by unforgiveness. The insult of injustice and abusive injury viscerally demands an evening of the score. We want fairness, vindication, and at times–vengeance.

The punishment of wrongs is indeed important and necessary. Wrong-doing certainly should have consequences. But righting wrongs will remain unfinished business without forgiveness. Vengeance does not put us in touch with our humanity like forgiveness does. For our own healing, forgiveness must not be neglected.

For our personal healing, forgiveness teaches us that dignity is more important than exacting vengeance. Forgiveness is the doorway to restoring our dignity that was harmed or taken by unjust actions.

Unforgiveness keeps us bound by chains to injustice. Forgiveness, not unforgiveness and vengence, is the platform that allows us to take back our personal power and dignity. Forgiveness provides the new ground on which to stand and to move forward in dignity. Forgiveness empowers us and can empower those around us in a way that unforgiveness never can.

6th. peace and attachment vs conflict

The journey thus far has stirred the desire to do something about injustices in our lives. Our healing motivates us to want healing for others, too. We want to work for peace for a whole new set of reasons. Axis three of the rpg model is balanced by forgiveness and solidarity, restoring dignity for those who have suffered harm.

Axis three is where everything is put to the test. Are the internal structures of peace we’ve built within ourselves stable enough now to do the work of rebuilding relationships? Dealing with broken relationships is hard work, but it’s rewarding work. Reconciliation is more than and event, it is an ongoing process and a lifestyle of peace.


Positive Resolution
Negative Resolution