Negotiating for Self-Leadership

IFS recognizes that a protector can’t fully let go and transform until the exile(s) that it protects have been accessed and unburdened. However, there are situations where it isn’t practical to do this right away. Then you can connect with the protector from Self and negotiate with it to allow you to take the lead in a difficult situation in your life where this protector normally takes over and causes problems. This means that you can change your attitudes and behavior in some situations even before the underlying exile has been healed. Here’s how to do this with an Inner Critic protector:

First make a connection with the Critic but understanding what it is trying to do for you and appreciating its efforts. Then it will be possible for it to cooperate with you and learn a different way to respond when a situation triggers it. You can learn to negotiate with it to allow you to lead whenever such a situation arises. Explain that Self can handle this situation and make this decision. The Critic doesn’t have to be extreme about it. The Critic became extreme because it was dealing with a dangerous and harmful situation in childhood, and it believes that this is happening again. Furthermore, there wasn’t a Self there to help back then, and the Critic hasn’t realized that you have a Self available to help now. Or maybe your Self hasn’t been fully available. But now that you are doing this IFS work, your Self has been accessed and can help. And now that the Self and the Critic are connected, the Critic is more likely to listen to the Self and trust what the Self is saying. [Read more…]

Who Asks a Protector to Step Aside?

This questions was sent to me a while ago and I answered it by email. With Peter’s permission, I am including it on the blog. I encourage you to email me questions to be answered at

Peter asks:

I’ve purchased your book and am about a third in.
I wonder if I can ask you a question.
Who is it who is asking the protector to step aside. Is it another protector? Or does one move to Self before asking? It’s probably there in the pages I read but I’m still not clear. [Read more…]