Can you switch whenever you want?
Answer by T-E-C:
It depends on the situation, who is currently fronting, who is co-conscious, the phase of the moon, and whether or not the groundhog saw its shadow. Sometimes it is possible to trigger another alter out to the front purposely. In our system, that could be via a negative trigger, like being in a lot of pain, or a positive trigger, like pulling out the stuffies and putting on Winne the Pooh cartoons. If two alters were already very blendy, like Janet & Saoirse get sometimes, it’s relatively easy. However, that doesn’t mean it always works.
In general, to have an easy switch, both parties need to be co-con and open to passing the baton. This happens most often in therapy, where we’ve all agreed to have a switch-o-rama hour. It’s still tiring and can give us a headache if we’re switching a lot, but it does allow our therapist to talk to multiple parts every session… in theory. In reality, sometimes Saoirse has a hard time letting go, and sometimes parts don’t want to come forward or are just offline.
Sharon wrote a piece for our blog that describes how she can push herself to the front and force a switch. Not all of us can do her trick, however.
For us, most switches are still involuntary to at least some degree. Sometimes it’s possible to feel a switch coming on and fight against it, but it’s exhausting and can make us feel physically ill. Other times switches happen with minimal warning. These can be very disorienting to whoever pops up. If we’ve felt a switch coming on, it may have given us time to get at least a vague understanding of the current situation before fully coming forward. If we switch in rapidly, though, we may have no idea WTF is going on.
Of course, that’s just one system’s experience. Feel free to discuss your experience with switching in the comments.