📙 Self-Therapy

Author: Jay Earley

Full Title: Self-Therapy

Highlights from December 13th, 2020.

Since parts are like little people Inside you, you can make contact with them, get to know them, negotiate with them, encourage them to trust you, help them communicate with each other, and give them what they need to heal.
You may treat the idea of subpersonalities as simply a useful metaphor for viewing the psyche, which it is, but it is much more than that. If you treat the components of your psyche as real entities that you can interact with, they will respond to you in that way, which gives you tremendous power for transformation.
The problems that occur within the human psyche are largely structured around the need to protect ourselves from pain.
In IFS, an extreme role amounts to any action, feeling or thought that is dysfunctional.

Highlights from December 28th, 2020.

The job of protectors[1] is to protect you from feeling pain. They try to arrange your life and your psyche so that you are always in a kind of comfort zone and you never feel hurt, shame, or fear. They attempt to protect you from hurtful incidents or distressing relationships in your current life that could bring up buried pain from childhood.
Even though protectors are ostensibly focused on your current life, most of them are strongly influenced by events and relationships from your childhood. There is a residual fear of events from long ago that involve abandonment, betrayal, judgment, or abuse.
I have a part that closes off my emotions by being extremely intellectual. Another part of me hardens my heart in order to forestall vulnerability and heartache. Some people’s parts go into denial and pretend that everything in their life is all right when it isn’t. You might have a part that projects your feelings onto other people so you don’t have to face them in yourself. In standard psychological language, these protectors are called “defenses.”
Some protectors criticize you and control you to try to make you into a “good boy or girl,” or they may push you to be productive and successful so no one can have reason to judge you.
As we have seen, parts play a wide variety of protective roles. Some try to control every situation to ward off unpredictable threats. Some rebel against authority in order to preserve our autonomy and keep us from being dominated by others. Some try to please other people so they can win their approval. Others are charismatic performers whose job is to obtain admiration from people. Some are self-effacing and quiet to avoid being judged. You might have a protector that avoids intimacy for fear of being engulfed or abused by someone close to you. You might have an angry protector that makes sure you don’t accept blame for problems. Or one that deadens your feelings so you’re not vulnerable to the slings and arrows of the world.
Exiles are young child parts that are in pain from the past. While protectors try to keep us from feeling pain, exiles are the parts in pain. They are the ones the protectors are trying to protect us from.
Exiles are often stuck at a particular time in childhood, at a specific age. They are literally two years old, or five or seven, and they exist in a situation from that time in your life. They are frozen at that time because something difficult or traumatic happened then, and you didn’t have the inner resources or the external support to handle it.
Exiles often take on the beliefs or the feeling tone of your Family. If your Family life was chaotic, you will probably have an exile that feels jumbled Inside.
In addition to painful emotions, exiles have negative beliefs about you and about the world.
Because exiles hold pain from your past, they are pushed away by protectors. They are exiled from your inner life and kept in dark dungeons away from the light of consciousness. An exile is usually caught in its own little world and is unaware that you have grown up and developed the capacity to take care of yourself, make friends, be independent, and perhaps start your own Family.
We all have a core part of us that is our true self, our spiritual center. When our extreme parts are not activated and in the way, this is who we are. The Self is relaxed, open, and accepting of yourself and others. When you are in Self, you are grounded, centered, and non-reactive. You don’t get triggered by what people do. You remain calm and unruffled, even in difficult circumstances. The Self is so much larger and more spacious than our parts and is not frightened by events that would scare them. The Self has the strength and clarity to function well in the world and connect with other people.
The Self is connected to the deeper ground of being that spiritual teachings speak of, sometimes called God. It has access to a kind of higher wisdom and understanding that can guide you in dealing with the larger questions of life. It allows you to be fully present and embodied in each moment with aliveness and depth. It is an inexhaustible fountain of Love.
Much can be said about the Self, but for our purposes, the most important thing is that it is the agent of psychological healing in IFS. It is, by nature, compassionate and curious about our parts. The Self wants to connect with each part and get to know it and heal it.
The Self is connected.
The Self is curious.
The Self is compassionate.
The Self is calm, centered, and grounded.
As a result of childhood incidents, our exiles take on pain and negative beliefs, which, in IFS, are called burdens.
The human psyche is organized around avoiding pain.
We respect our protectors’ need for defenses, and we take our time getting to know them and gaining their trust.
it isn’t appropriate to work with an exile until we have permission from any protectors who might not approve.
In IFS, issues are sometimes referred to as trailheads. A trailhead is an experience or a difficulty in your life that will lead to interesting parts if you follow it.
You may be feeling something at the moment that seems important to explore, but you aren’t clear about exactly which emotions or experiences are there; it might just be a muddle of feeling. IFS can help you sort this out. Frequently there is more than one part activated at any given time, so it is helpful to get a map of the territory by exploring your current experience to identify all the parts that are up.
The Self is the natural occupant of the seat of consciousness because it is who we truly are. It is our essential nature, our spiritual center.