Blending: What Happens to Take You Out of Self
Blending is key concept in IFS. At any given moment, you are either in Self or a part is blended with Self. You are either feeling curious, open, and compassionate because you are in Self, or you have been taken over by a part and are engulfed in its feelings and beliefs. Whoever is in charge of your psyche at any given moment is in your Seat of Consciousness. The Self is the natural occupant of the Seat of Consciousness. However, if a part, such as the Inner Critic or the Criticized Child, blends with you, it takes over the Seat and determines how you feel and react.
When you are judging yourself, an Inner Critic part is blended with you and sitting in the Seat of Consciousness. When you are feeling bad about yourself, a Criticized Child part is blended with you and sitting in the Seat. Often both the Critic and the Criticized Child are blended with you at the same time, which means that they’re both occupying the Seat of Consciousness, and the Self is pushed into the background.
You can only work successfully with an Inner Critic if you aren’t blended with it or the Criticized Child. Imagine a situation in which a father repeatedly punishes a child in a harsh way. What can be done about this? The child can’t do anything. She is too young and scared. She has no power or perspective. The father can’t do anything because he believes he is right. He is caught up in his judgmental role. Only a third person can intervene and change things. In your internal world, you become that third person when you aren’t being either the “father” (the Critic) or the child (the Criticized Child). To become that third person means you must unblend from them.
When you unblend in this way, it doesn’t mean that the self-judgment disappears or you stop feeling bad about yourself. It just means that you aren’t completely taken over by these feelings. You have some space inside that is separate from them. Your Self has regained the Seat of Consciousness, and the Critic and Child have moved aside. You don’t fully buy into the idea that you are inadequate. You can see that this idea is just the result of a part attacking you rather than believing it is the truth about you. For example, when your Critic says that you are a loser and will never find love in your life, you recognize that this is an attack from this part of you which may not be the truth.
Though you may still feel sad or ashamed, when you are unblended from the Critic and Criticized Child, you aren’t dominated by these feelings. You have a place in you (Self) that is feeling solid and calm. From this place, you can view these feelings, understand these attacks, and work with them. Parts of you may feel hurt to hear the message that you are a loser and hopeless about your love life, but that isn’t all that’s going on. You reside in a place that is deeper than those emotions, a place of calmness and curiosity.
Unblending from Your Critic
Unblending from the Critic and coming into Self is not the final solution to your Inner Critic problem. It is just a preliminary step that gives you enough space to work with your Inner Critic in a constructive way.
Feeling worthless is just the result of an Inner Critic attack and not necessarily the truth about you. Reminding yourself of this truth will go a long way toward helping you to unblend from the Critic. If this reminder isn’t enough, there is more you can do.
One option is to visualize the Critic as separate from yourself. Allow a visual image of the Critic to arise. This will give you the sense of it as a separate entity. Now visualize that the Critic is clearly a certain distance away from you. The further away it is, the more separation there is between you and it.
Another way to accomplish visual separation is to draw or paint an image of the Critic. Or you can choose an object from your home, an image in a magazine, or a picture from the Internet that represents the Critic. Having a concrete token of the part helps to create separation.
Unblending from Your Criticized Child
If you are scared of the Critic or feel crushed by it, or if you feel depressed, sad, hopeless, or worthless, remember that these feelings come from your Criticized Child, not from your Self.
Take a few moments to access a powerful, nurturing side of you (these are aspects of Self). Now focus on the sad, hopeless feelings, which are coming from the Criticized Child. Let it know that you understand its hurt and feel compassion for it. Give the Child some time to take in your caring. Then ask the Child if it would be willing to step aside into a safe place, where you will protect it from the Critic. Explain that you (as Self) will be connecting with the Critic and you won’t allow the Critic to attack the Child. Having the Child step aside will allow you to get to know the Critic from the place of Self.
You can also create an experience of separation inside yourself so you feel your Self as different from the Child. You might experience this separation as moving back from the Child into a grounded place, or shifting into the stance of a witness, or moving deeper inside to a centered presence. Some people sense this shift as a stepping back away from the Child into themselves.