The Exile Is in Charge of Reparenting and Retrieval

In the IFS model, in both the reparenting and retrieval steps, we always check to see what the exile needs or wants. This guides us in deciding exactly how to do the reparenting or retrieval. Exile in Charge of Reparenting

It isn’t a good idea to assume that you know what she needs. You can suggest options to the exile that she might not think of, but don’t you decide what she needs without checking with her.

She knows best. You may be very surprised to discover what she wants. The exile can sense more truly than you what would be most healing for her.

In addition, it is healing for the exile to be in charge of what happens to her. In the original childhood situation, it was just the opposite. She had no say in how she was treated, even though it caused her considerable pain.

This leads most exiles to feel powerless and helpless.

Now you can redress this by having her be in control. This will empower her and help her feel safe.

 

After You Have Obtained Permission to Work with an Exile

When you want to work with an exile, the first thing you do is to obtain permission from the target protector, are you free to work with the exile?

That depends on whether there are other protectors that feel this exile is dangerous. Often you can simply move on to working with the exile, but it would be wise to deal with any additional resistance now. Otherwise, these protectors will repeatedly interrupt your work with the exile.

Therefore, if it seems called for, ask if there are any other protectors that don’t want you to access the exile. Usually they will step forward, and you can ask about their fears and reassure them, just as you did with the primary protector. This will usually clear the way for uninterrupted work with the exile.

However, sometimes protectors pop up later. While you are working with the exile, if a protector feels threatened by the pain that is coming up from the exile, it may reactivate to block that pain. You may get sleepy or distracted. You may go into your head or get angry. Use your parts-detecting ability to recognize when such a protector has been triggered. If it is the same protector that has already given you permission, ask what happened in your work with the exile to make it change its mind. Usually it’s because the pain of the exile started to emerge in an intense way. Find out what it is afraid of now and reassure it about that fear.

If it is a new protector that you haven’t gotten permission from or haven’t worked with before, you may need to spend some time with this protector, getting to know it and its positive intent. Then ask its permission to go on with your work with the exile.

Sometimes, if an exile’s pain is threatening to overwhelm you, a protector will keep jumping in to stop this from happening, and no amount of reassurance will work. Then you must negotiate with the exile about unblending even before you ask the protector for permission. Once the protector sees that the exile has agreed not to flood you, it will probably give the go-ahead.

Metabolizing Childhood Experiences

Whenever you endure a painful or difficult experience, it must be fully processed and metabolized for your psyche to stay healthy. You must fully feel the experience, make sense of it, and integrate it into your notion of who you are in a way that doesn’t leave you with a negative, inaccurate view of yourself. Even experiences in adult life must be metabolized in this way. For example, suppose you lose your spouse to cancer. You need to feel the grief and other emotions that it brings up, think it through, discuss it with friends, and work through any guilt or self-blame that you feel. This will occur repeatedly over many months until you have come to terms with it.

Experiences

Threatening or Traumatic Experience

A threatening or traumatic experience puts your body into a fight-or-flight stress reaction. For example, suppose you are threatened with a gun by a robber. Your body goes into hyper-alertness and fear. Later, when you talk through what happened and feel the fear, this will help your body to complete its physiological response and return to a normal relaxed state.

Difficult Experience

A difficult experience can also make you feel bad about yourself or mistrust people. For example, suppose you are fired from your job for poor work performance. This makes you feel incompetent and, after stewing over it for a while, you come to believe that the world is unfair. You need to take the time to think this through with outside support and figure out what, if anything, you did poorly and how much of this resulted from office politics. This will help you integrate the experience into your psyche and sense of self, and learn from your mistakes without taking on a negative view of yourself.

Problematic Experience

When you have a problematic experience as an adult, you usually have the resources to metabolize it properly. You know how to articulate the problem, you are intellectually and emotionally mature, and you may have support from friends, family, or a therapist. As a child, you often don’t have the resources to metabolize difficult incidents. You can’t do it on your own, so you need a great deal of sensitive support from your parents or other adults. The more painful and traumatic an experience, the more you need support to be able to metabolize it. And this support often isn’t available, either because your parents don’t realize you need it or because they don’t have the capacity to provide it. Or, worst of all, because your parents were the source of the traumatic incident.

Burden for the Exile

An experience that isn’t metabolized creates a burden for the exile that experienced it. In order to heal that child part and help release its burden, the memory must be re-experienced and processed to completion. Having the experience witnessed by the Self is an important aspect of this.

NEW! IFS Exiles Course: Starts February 12

There has been so much interest in my Exiles Class that the current class, which is full, is already started, and I will be offering a second Exiles Class in February.

In this 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
  • 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.

The prerequisite for this course is the IFS Basic Course or equivalent.

If you aren’t sure if you qualify, contact me.

Tuesdays
12:30-2:30 pm pacific time
(3:30-5:30 pm eastern, 8:30-10:30 pm UK)
February 12 – March 19 (6 classes)
Cost: $300, $250 if you enroll by February 6
Click here to enroll

Names for Parts in IFS

It can be useful to have names for your parts when doing IFS.

Since your goal is to develop a relationship with each part, giving it a name enables you to keep track of it over time. The name can be a descriptive phrase, such as the Controlling Part or the Sooty Demon. It could be a person’s name, such as Walter. It could be the name of a character, such as the Tin Man; a famous person, such as the Buddha; or a mythical being, such as Athena.

Instead of imposing a name on a part, let it name itself. That way, the name will reflect how the part sees itself rather than how you see it. For example, you might see a part as the Monster, while it might see itself as the Warrior. If you keep referring to it as the Monster, it may feel judged and close down its communication with you. It is best to get to know a part as it understands itself because your view of it may be biased by your judgment of it, and therefore you won’t learn what the part is trying to do for you. You goal is to understand the part from its perspective.

Sometimes the name of a part will change over time as you get to know it better, just like the image. Allow this to happen. Let the name change anytime that feels right so the name reflects your new understanding of the part or how the part has transformed.

For example, suppose the sad little girl in gray started out being called the Resigned Part. After she transforms to the older girl in the sparkling jumpsuit, she might be called Jazzy Girl.

Blending in IFS

A part is blended with you and has taken over your seat of consciousness when any of the following is true:
Blending in IFS

  1. You are flooded with the part’s emotions to such a degree that you aren’t grounded. You are lost in those feelings. For example, if the part feels resentment, you are fully caught up in its anger without having any reflective distance.
  2. You are caught up in the beliefs of the part so that you lose perspective on the situation. You see the world through the distorted perception of the part. In addition, you aren’t able to recognize that this is one of many perspectives—you simply see it as the truth. If the part believes that the world is dangerous, that is the way you see the world, without any thought that you might be projecting your own beliefs onto the world.
  3. You don’t feel enough of your Self. You don’t have enough access to a place in you that is separate from the part from which to witness it and understand it. You have no center or ground.

Blending an Extreme form of Activation

Blending is a more extreme form of activation. Even when a part is activated to the degree that you feel its emotions and it influences you, you may still feel separate from it. You may be able to see that your emotional response is exaggerated or that your perspective is skewed.

Imagine a scenario in which your boss tells you that you have to rewrite a report you submitted. You feel inadequate and a little depressed, but you still have enough perspective to recognize that this is a passing reaction. You have thought about the supervisor’s criticism, and you understand what happened and can think through what to do in the future.

Your inadequate part is activated, but you have some distance from it. It isn’t completely blended with you. Your Self is still occupying the seat of consciousness, which allows you to see that you are basically competent. Even though you feel down, you know it will pass.

SElf-Therapy

 

New Date: The Basic IFS Course Starts 11-5-2018

The IFS Basic Course

New Date for the IFS Basic Course. Course starts November 5.

The Basic IFS Course teaches you how to access Self and work with protectors. It teaches you how to work on yourself using IFS and how to do peer IFS counseling with other people in the class.

Therapists and coaches also take the class to learn about IFS, though it is not professional training in IFS.

The course is experiential; it includes practicing IFS sessions for homework in pairs, group exercises, and demonstration IFS sessions with volunteers from the class.

The course will be taught by videoconference, so we can see each other, which enhances the group connection, making it safe for you to be open and vulnerable in class. Each class is recorded, so you can watch the recording of any class you miss.

For more information, click

http://personal-growth-programs.com/ifs-courses/basic-course/

Mondays
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time

( 7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
November 5 – December 10 (6 classes)
Cost: $300, $250 if you enroll by October 30
Click here to enroll

 

All Parts Have Positive Intent

Experience with IFS shows that every part has a positive intent for you.

It may want to protect you from harm or help you feel good about yourself. It may want to keep you from feeling pain or make other people like you. Every part of you is trying to help you feel good and avoid pain. This is how we are constructed biologically, and our psyches work the same way.

Since some parts keep us stuck in negative patterns and have a destructive impact on our lives, it may be hard to imagine how they could be trying to help. The answer is that despite their best intentions, these parts don’t always act wisely; they take extreme stances or behave in clumsy and primitive ways. However, if you look under the surface, you discover that they are always doing what they think is best for you. They may have a distorted perception of situations and an exaggerated sense of danger, but their intent is always positive.

For example, Joe has a part that makes him close his heart and lose interest in women whenever a relationship turns intimate and moves toward commitment.

At first, he didn’t approve of this Closed-Hearted Part of himself and wanted to get rid of it because it was preventing him from finding love.

However, when he looked deeper through IFS therapy, Joe found that this part was trying to look out for him. It was terrified that he would be taken over by a woman and lose himself, which is exactly what happened with his mother. When he was a child, being close to a female meant being controlled by her. So this part protected him in the only way it knew how, by withdrawing.

It said,

“I just want to keep you safe. I don’t want this to happen to you again.”

Joe’s Closed-Hearted Part shut him down because it saw danger that wasn’t there. It distorted the present based on the past.

Power of Parts

Power of Parts in IFSThe concept of parts in IFS corresponds to ideas from other forms of psychotherapy—for example, defenses, psychic forces, self-images, introjects, and schemas. However, these concepts are normally seen as just mechanical or biological descriptions of how the psyche operates. Parts, or subpersonalities, may operate in similar ways, but they are alive and personal. They do what they do for reasons of their own, and they have relationships with you and with each other. For example, suppose you are using the defense of repression, which makes a certain memory unconscious. IFS recognizes that a protective part is purposely excluding that memory from your awareness for a reason. Perhaps it is afraid that the memory would cause you to be overwhelmed by pain.

Parts Are Entities of Their Own

Parts are entities of their own, with their own feelings, beliefs, motivations, and memories. It is especially important to understand that parts have motivations for everything they do. Nothing is just done out of habit. Nothing is just a pattern of thinking or behavior you learned. Everything (except for purely physiological reactions) is done by a part for a reason, even though that reason may be unconscious. For example, if you get distracted at a certain point while exploring yourself in therapy, this is probably not an accident. A part wants to distract you because it is seeking to avoid something.

Understanding the psyche in this way gives you a great deal of power to change your inner world for the better. 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. When you do, you will have an enormously increased capacity for understanding and transforming your psyche—for achieving wholeness.

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. Are they actually real? I believe so, but I invite you to read this book, do the exercises, and make up your own mind.

IFS Latest In Therapy Methods

IFS is the latest in a long line of therapy methods that work with subpersonalities. Early methods were Jungian analysis, Psychosynthesis, Transactional Analysis, and Gestalt therapy. More recent approaches are hypnotherapy, inner child work, Voice Dialogue, Ego State Therapy, John Rowan’s work, and others. IFS is the latest and most sophisticated of these methods. And many forms of therapy that don’t explicitly work with subpersonalities nevertheless use concepts that are quite similar, such as “schemas” in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

IFS Recognizes Power and Importance of Self

IFS represents an advance over these other methods in a number of ways. It recognizes the power and importance of the Self and bases the therapy on relating to your parts from Self.

The IFS method takes you deep inside yourself while still remaining alert and in charge during a session. It doesn’t just work with parts in isolation; it has a sophisticated understanding of the relationships between parts that guides the therapy method.

As you will see, the most important relationship is between those parts that protect us from pain and those child parts that are in pain. The problems that occur within the human psyche are largely structured around the need to protect ourselves from pain. Since the IFS approach is organized around this, we can have respectful sensitivity to our pain and defenses while pinpointing our work with laser-like efficiency.

SElf-Therapy

 

 

Fall 2018: Introduction to IFS

Fall 2018 Introduction to IFSIFS Introductory Seminar (Free)

IFS is based on the idea that the psyche consists of sub-personalities, called parts, which make up a kind of inner system. Parts often get into conflicts with each other and act in dysfunctional ways in an attempt to protect us from pain. All of this happens largely outside our awareness, and when we do see what is happening, we frequently try to banish the parts that are causing the difficulties. Yet this is hardly ever solves the problem. IFS, on the other hand, teaches us to relate to our parts with openness, curiosity, and compassion, not judgment, which allows each part to reveal its hidden agenda and the pain it defends against. This paves the way for healing and transformation, which can be accomplished by following the detailed IFS procedure.

This free introductory seminar will introduce IFS and give you a taste of working on yourself using this approach.

It will include experiential exercises and a demonstration IFS session. You can ask me questions about the model and about the upcoming Basic IFS Class.

Monday, Oct. 8
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time
(7:30-8:30 pm eastern)
Free
Click here to enroll