The Seat of Consciousness in IFS

We each have a place in our psyche that determines our identity, choices, feelings, and perceptions. Using IFS terminology, this seat can be occupied by Self or by a part. Whoever resides in the seat of consciousness at any given moment is in charge of our psyche at that time. Whether it is a part or the Self, the occupant of the seat determines how we feel, what our intentions are, how we perceive other people, how we relate to them, and what our choices and actions will be. At any given moment, all activated parts have some influence over you, but the occupant of the seat of consciousness has the overriding influence. It determines your dominant emotion and your actions.

We aren’t necessarily aware of the occupant of our seat of consciousness at any given time. In fact, it tends to be invisible to us because it is the one who looks at other things. The occupant of the seat of consciousness is the one who is aware or conscious. We take it to be ourselves. It is the observer, or witness, and it wields the flashlight of consciousness. We are conscious of whichever part is illuminated by this flashlight, but it rarely gets pointed back toward the one who holds it. So we tend not to be aware of the witness. The witness sees but is not seen.

Ideally the Self is the occupant of the seat of consciousness.

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. This means that the Self occupies the seat of consciousness unless a part takes over the seat and pushes the Self into the background. Then that part is in charge of your psyche for a while. This can happen in an instant and usually without our realizing it. However, as you will learn later, if you pay close attention, you can notice the shift and work with it. If the part steps aside, the Self will automatically occupy the seat of consciousness again.

At any given moment, you are identified with the occupant of the seat of consciousness. If the Self is in the seat, you are identified with Self. If a part has taken over the seat, you are identified with that part; that is who you take yourself to be in that moment. We don’t usually notice these shifts in identity; we think we are always the same unitary personality. However, they happen all the time, and IFS will help you become aware of them.

Self-Therapy

 

This is an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming Your Inner Critic – A View Through Two Lenses

Freedom from Shame and Inadequacy: Transforming Your Inner Critic
A View Through Two Lenses

Jay Earley, PhD, and Ann Weiser Cornell

  • Do you feel bad about yourself?Inner Critic
  • Do you hear a voice calling you worthless and unlovable?
  • Do you struggle with self-hatred?
  • Is there a voice that constantly doubts your abilities?
  • Do you believe that you’ll never get anywhere?

The Inner Critic is the part of you
that judges you, pushes you, and undermines your self-confidence. It can make you feel worthless, ashamed, guilty, depressed, or inadequate. It seems to come up especially when you are expanding, doing more, being bigger. In fact, there isn’t just one Inner Critic, but a whole flock of them, hovering anxiously and ready to attack or push when you want to take new steps in your life.

You have so much you could contribute to the world if you just didn’t sabotage yourself from inside! Join Jay Earley and Ann Weiser Cornell for an inspiring and practical two-hour webinar that will help you free yourself from undermining inner attacks so you can move into living the life you were born to live.

What’s special about this webinar:

  • You’ll learn surprising truths about the positive intent of Inner Critic parts
  • You’ll understand the dynamics of inner criticism and how to transform it to inner support
  • You’ll learn powerful practices that you can use immediately in your life
  • You learn from two different teachers and methods

Watch Jay and Ann together! These major figures from IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) and IRF (Inner Relationship Focusing) rarely present together. We will explore the similarities and differences between our powerful methods in a lively, interactive dialogue.

Learn how to develop self-esteem and self-confidence, so you can

  • Accept yourself just as you are.
  • Know that you are lovable.
  • Feel confident in what you can do.
  • Feel proud of your capacities and accomplishments.
  • Feel a deep sense of self-worth.

Other reasons to take the webinar:

  • You are a Healing Professional whose clients who struggle with shame, low self-esteem, or inadequacy?
  • You are curious about how to work with a “part” or how to use a “felt sense”?
  • You have been wondering how IFS and IRF are similar and different? 

Wednesday, April 19
1-3 pm Pacific time (4-6 pm Eastern time)
 

Click here to register for free

Feel free to register even if you can’t attend at that time. A recording will be available afterward.

 

 

Dealing with Overwhelm in IFS Work

 

Dealing with Overwhelm in IFS

Your inner world can be a garden of riches, but at any moment it can also erupt in a chaotic confusion of intense feelings. Sometimes when a loaded issue gets triggered, instead of parts appearing one at a time, which would be more workable, they all become triggered at once, vying for control and attention, and fighting with each other.

Let’s look at an example.

You hear your lover threatening to leave, and many parts come up at the same time. You feel terrified, defensive, self-judging, angry, ashamed, and abandoned, all in one intense moment. At first, you may not be able to distinguish these individual feelings; you may just experience inner confusion, conflict, or chaos. You might feel overwhelmed and flooded with emotion.

In IFS, we want to welcome all our parts, but we don’t want to be overwhelmed by them. A good way to handle this is to slow down, take a deep breath, and feel your belly and legs. This will help to ground you. Then take your time and pay attention to one emotion (and therefore one part) at a time. Even if you are feeling them all at once, focus on just one emotion or experience at a time, just enough to recognize the part and access it.

For example, you single out the defensive feeling and hear that part say it wants to defend you against your partner’s accusations. Then you access the part that is terrified of being alone. Then you hear from the self-judging part, and so on. Give each one the microphone and let it speak. You don’t have to spend much time with each part—just enough to access it and get a sense of what it feels.

Once you have accessed all the parts, you will have an overall perspective on what is happening, and it will feel less chaotic. At this point, you can choose one target part and proceed to get to know it. If the other parts keep jumping in, listen to them but then ask them to step aside. This way you can avoid being overwhelmed and stay focused on a productive track of discovery and healing.

Core Intention Professional Training with Mark Hurwich

Jay Earley, PhD about Mark Hurwich and his Core Intention training.

Mark Hurwich I highly recommend this training that Mark Hurwich is offering. Mark is an IFS coach who I have worked with, and I’m very impressed with his Core Intention process work.

“Core Intention” is our essence, our why, our raison d’être. When we’re operating from our core intention, we come from a place of power, peace, compassion, and centeredness in how we are and what we do.

The Core Intention Professional Training give you mastery-level skills to lead Anchoring to Core Intention℠ sessions with clients or others you serve. When you’re done, you’ll be able to help clients articulate what they want powerfully, as well as connect to their gifts and purpose on the planet. You’ll also have the skills to guide clients to a visceral experience of a future where desired outcomes are realized and gifts expressed, and give clients an “anchor” to bring the experience back into the present time.

Mark will also teach body-based techniques to calibrate issues and outcomes (so clients can see how they’ve shifted as a result of the work you’ve led), and how to integrate these tools into the IFS (Internal Family Systems) model and other modalities.

April 13 – June 8 (6 classes, every other week)
10-11:30 am central time
Fee: $697

Click here to learn more about this training or to enroll.

When a Part Is Vague

Vague PartWhen you are accessing a part to work with it, it may not be clear at first. It may start out as a vague image or felt sense—for example, “folded over on itself.”

You get to know a part like this by staying with your experience in a patient and curious way. Don’t push for clarity prematurely. If you are open and interested, the part will know that it is welcome, and the nature of it will become clearer in the course of a few minutes. For example, “folded over on itself” might gradually reveal itself as a part that is curled up to protect itself from attack.

You might feel a vague emotion, such as a sense of poignancy, or you might sense a narrowing in your chest or an empty place in your body. When the sensation or image isn’t entirely clear at first, it simply means that your access to the part is still in the process of forming. Some of the most interesting parts start out this way. The practice of Focusing is an excellent method for allowing parts to gradually come into view.

This process of clarification can happen slowly in stages. Take your time and the part will gradually emerge, like the development of a photographic image in a darkroom. For example, what started out as an empty place might begin to include an experience of feeling unsatisfied. Then you might sense that it is in your belly. Over time it might show itself as an empty sack needing to be filled. Finally, it might reveal itself as a child who needs nurturing because she feels empty inside.

Detecting When You Are Talking to an Exile

Do you know when you are talking to an Exile?

A frequent occurrence that can sidetrack your IFS work is when the part you are talking to changes without your realizing it. You are asking a part questions and receiving its answers, but at some point the answers start to come from a different part. It is important to detect this when it happens.

The usual way this happens is that you are working with a protector and you start hearing from the exile that is being protected. However, you don’t realize that this has happened; you think you are still talking to the protector. Since the protector and exile are closely linked, this is not surprising. However, you must learn to recognize when this occurs because we work with protectors in a different way than with exiles in IFS. You will recognize an exile because it has a painful emotion such as shame, fear, sadness, or hurt. It is important to have the protector’s permission before exploring the exile, so if an exile pops up, ask it to wait until you have finished with the protector.

Here is an example from a session. This demonstrates a protector switching to an exile without the person realizing it. Christine has identified a protector that doesn’t want to see or know certain things. She is getting to know it. Let’s take up the session at that point.

Jay: Invite that part to tell you or show you more about what it feels.

Christine: It says that it feels sleepy and dull. I can sense that it goes blank. It says, “I want to go to sleep. I don’t want to be awake or conscious.” Sometimes it can’t answer people’s questions.

J: Mm hmm. Ask the part what its name is or what it would like to be called.

C: I get the word Confuser.

J: Okay. Ask it what it is trying to accomplish by being sleepy and confused.

C: It says, “I don’t want to see something. I don’t want to know something.” This part has to just make unclarity and confusion, blandness. It wants to make sure that I don’t know what is going on.

J: It creates confusion to protect you from whatever is going on . . . What else does this part want you to know about itself?

C: (pause) Well, it’s showing me a demonstration of its panic state, which has something to do with being alone.

Here is where the switch happens. Christine is now hearing from the exile. The Confuser produces confusion and not-knowing, while the exile is terrified. So I ask about this in order to clarify what has happened.

J: I’m a little confused. I thought this was the part that didn’t want to see anything.

C: It’s two sides of the same coin. The one that doesn’t want to see, doesn’t want to see because it’s terrified.

This is true, but the part that actually feels the terror is the exile, so I focus her back on the protector, whose job is to avoid the terror.

J: I suspect that the one who is terrified is actually a different part. Ask the terrified part if it would be willing to wait a bit, and let’s focus on the Confuser, if that’s Okay. 

This switch from protector to exile often happens because the exile desperately wants to be heard. It senses that you are approaching and wants out of exile, so it rushes the gate.

When you detect that this has happened, ask the exile to wait until you have gotten to know the protector and received its permission to proceed. So the exile doesn’t feel ignored, let it know that you want to get to know it, but ask it to wait while you continue with the protector.

IFS Exiles Course – Starts February 6

The IFS Exiles Course is the second of my IFS Courses.IFS Exiles Course

You learn how to:

  • safely access young wounded parts (exiles),
  • how to stay in Self,
  • how to develop a healing relationship with your exiles, and
  • how to unburden the pain and negative beliefs of exiles so they are transformed.

This enables you to do a complete IFS session with yourself or a partner. You learn how to facilitate a partner who is working on themselves.

Prerequisite: IFS Basic Course or equivalent. Contact me if you aren’t sure whether you qualify.

Mondays 4:30-6:30 pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Feb. 6 – March 13 (6 weeks)
$280 ($250 if paid by Jan. 30)
Click here to enroll

Class Enrollment

Free Drop-In Interactive/IFS Group – February 1

Drop-in Interactive IFS GroupThis Drop-in Interactive IFS group will be a chance to experience what it is like to be in an Interactive Group, so you can decide if you would like to join one. 

In a Drop-In Interactive Group, you can be totally honest about your feelings. Everyone is encouraged to share their moment-to-moment experience with the group. It’s a big risk but very exciting!

A small group of people meets to practice awareness, honesty, and connection. Using IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy), we practice speaking for our parts rather than as our parts. This means being in Self (a calm, caring place) and talking about how a part of you is reacting in the moment, as opposed to dumping your feelings on other people. This helps you to communicate in a more effective manner, and it also makes the group safe for everyone.

I facilitate the group, helping you to tune into what you are experiencing and speak your truth. You may tell others honestly and directly how you are feeling toward them. We create an atmosphere of caring and trust so that this can be done in a safe, connected way. You also have a chance to get honest feedback from people on how they are responding to you.

The group meets by videoconference, so we can all see each other. 

Wednesday, Feb. 1
10am-12 noon pacific time (1-3 pm eastern, 6-8 pm UK)
Click here to register for free

Reasons to Stay with your Original Target Part in IFS

Let’s suppose that, in your IFS work, you have chosen a protector to work on, called your target part.

As you are getting to know it, another part may emerge. You want to make a choice about whether to ask it to step aside so you can continue with your original target part or whether to switch and make the new part your target part.

You Want to Finish with the Target Part

Sometimes, at the beginning of your therapy, it can be useful to get to know many different parts and understand their positive intent for you. However, once you start working with a part, it is usually best to finish the IFS procedure for healing and transforming it. For example, Dillon started working with a certain target part, a Depressed Part, and it is important for him to overcome his depression. So when another part arose, he asked it to step aside so he could keep working with his Depressed Part. He wanted to continue the IFS process with his Depressed Part by accessing the exile it was protecting so he could transform the Depressed Part and his depression would lift. This was especially important to him because he had worked with his Depressed Part before and not completed the work. Now he wanted to get results.

You Haven’t Finished with Any Parts

If you are still in the early stages of your IFS work and you haven’t yet completed work with any of your parts, your inner system won’t realize what is possible. Your parts won’t realize that exiles can be unburdened and that protectors can let go of their roles. Your protectors may be skeptical about your ability to heal your parts until they see it happen. Your parts may feel hopeless about change and, because of this, may try to keep you from engaging in IFS work or keep you away from your exiles. Therefore, it is important to complete at least one unburdening without waiting too long. The more your parts realize that profound change is really possible, the more they will cooperate with you.

The Target Part Feels Ignored by You

Some parts don’t trust you at first. They don’t expect you to really pay attention to them—perhaps because you haven’t paid attention to them your whole life. Now that you are learning IFS, you can give them the attention they want. If your target part is upset with you for not paying attention to it, it wouldn’t be wise to switch to a different target part. This would only increase the mistrust of the original target part. Stay with it so it can experience your interest in it. This will help the part trust you.

This article is an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy, Vol. 2.

 

New IFS Group – Starts January 26

IFS GroupA new IFS Group starts January 26.

  • Are you looking for an affordable way to get IFS therapy?
  • Would you like to learn to use IFS to work on yourself?
  • Would you like to connect with others who are learning IFS and working on themselves?

In the IFS group, you will be able to…

  • Work with me individually in front of the group
  • Learn from other people’s IFS work
  •  Get your parts stimulated by other people’s work so you can dive right in
  • Pair up with other group members for IFS homework when you are ready
  • Engage in group IFS exercises
  • Learn the basics of IFS
  • Share your struggles and learnings with the group and feel supported
  • Participate in a warm feeling of community in the group.

Format

The group is limited to 8 people.
This is an ongoing group, so once you join, you are expected to attend all sessions (if possible) until you choose to leave.
The group meets by videoconference, so we can all see each other.

Schedule

4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Every other Thursday
Starts January 26
$50/session

Getting Started

  • You meet with me for a free pre-group interview to see if the group is a good fit for you.
  • Then you can try out the group for a month and then decide whether to continue.
  • For more information or a free pre-group interview, email me at earley.jay@gmail.com.