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.

Your Inner Critic’s Positive Intent

Transforming your Inner CriticOne of the most startling discoveries about our Inner Critics is that they are actually trying to help us. This is an amazing, powerful secret learned from IFS.

In its own distorted, confused way, your Inner Critic is actually trying to help you. At first this may seem surprising, but once you get to know your Critic in a deeper way, you’ll come to understand why it is attacking you.

It may be negative and harsh, but it is doing so in a distorted attempt to protect you from pain. As strange as it may seem, we have found this to be true over and over with hundreds of clients, and so have other IFS therapists.

Your Inner Critic may think that pushing and judging you will protect you from hurt and pain. It may believe that if it can get you to be a certain way—perfect, successful, cautious, nice, slim, outgoing, intellectual, macho, and so on—then you won’t be shamed or rejected, and you might even get approval from people who are important to you.

It may try to get you to fit in by prescribing rules and then attacking you if you violate them. Even though attacking you actually backfires and causes you more suffering, your Inner Critic is doing what it thinks is best for you.

The good news is that because the Inner Critic actually has positive intentions, you don’t have to fight with it or overcome it. You don’t have to win a battle; you don’t have to get rid of it.

Instead, using IFS, you can discover what it thinks it’s doing for you and make a positive connection with it. You can offer it appreciation for its efforts, and it can begin to trust you. Knowing that your Critic’s heart is in the right place makes it possible to create a cooperative relationship with it and transform it into a valuable resource. This relationship makes an enormous difference in your internal landscape and sets the stage for deeper healing.

If you haven’t already, you can take a quiz to learn which Inner Critic is more trouble for you.

In a 9 week on-line course learn how to Transform Your Inner Critic using IFS and Self-Therapy Journey