Part Four of a Four part Series
In this four-part series, we’ve explored creating a sense of lasting stress relief by offering your body what it needs to be calm. A foundation of healthy physical practices and positive nervous system perspectives steadies the body and establishes internal resources to handle stress and gain confidence. In addition, there’s one more secret code to help yourself “root to rise” strong and balanced.
Using Internal Family Systems Therapy concepts, you can actually change the way you react to the parts of your personality that work like a little “internal family” inside you.
Along with care for your physical body and your nervous system, parts of your personality need loving care and attention to maintain your sense of calm and connectedness.
Here are a few examples of how people often react to worried parts that only make things worse.
- The moment Kendra feels a sense of worry, she reminds herself what a worried, anxious wreck she is. Essentially, she fully embodies the worry, forgetting about any other feelings or perspectives she has.
- James, who experienced a significant trauma in high school, has learned to press away or ignore the worry, feeling and acting agitated but refusing to deal with parts of him that feel triggered and painful.
- A very organized person herself, when Betty senses more worry in her own system she scans her environment, looking for other people or projects to manage. Her teenage children know when “Mom has that look” and stay away.
- Derrick was taught that you should not speak up for your feelings – or frankly to have feelings at all. As a result, when he feels nervous, he complains about everything around him instead. Inside he hopes that someone will rescue him from painful feelings, but since he cannot even recognize much less talk about them, he instead expresses feeling victimized by a corrupt government and greedy workplace.
If you’ve ever reacted as these people do, you know that the results are panic, physical pain, poor relationships and a sense of ineffectiveness and frustration. When these patterns are repeated throughout life, they make it extremely difficult to handle stress and feel confident.
IFS is a life-saver here.
IFS provides a true and effective way to view parts of our personalities and to help them.
From the IFS perspective, your personality is made up of many parts (subpersonalities) that have developed roles and interactions inside you as you have grown and developed. Parts are natural and normal. They are not “bad.” Parts always want good things for you, but they can take on extreme roles which become burdens for them. Parts may or may not have a gender, and it may or may not be the same as yours. Some people have a clear visualization of their parts, for others it is more of a feeling. Both are normal.
You also have a Self – a core or guiding leadership that, when it is differentiated from your parts, is your true nature without issues, burdens, or agendas. You can recognize Self as having the qualities of: compassion, clarity, courage, confidence, creativity, caring, connectedness and calmness Your internal system is in balance when your Self is in leadership, and your parts have access to this leadership.
While there is no substitute for a trusted IFS therapist, you can begin to understand your relationship to your parts and use these tools along with good physical and nerve care as you create a foundation of inner trust.
Here are 4 new ways to access your calm, confident self.
Promote healthy, integrated emotions.
1.Remember that your emotions are not all of you.
When you have a strong feeling, like worry, first breathe and notice where you feel it in or around your body or mind. This can be difficult at first, but there has to be some sensation that indicates worry for you. As you feel this body sensation, let yourself feel it as just one part of you. It is not all of you and you are not worry. You have worry or a worried feeling in part of you.
2. Offer compassion to all of yourself, even parts that make mistakes due to worry.
As you feel your worried part(s), ask yourself: How do I feel toward this part of myself? Often the answer is clear, “I do not like this part of me at all!” If that’s true for you, simply acknowledge that one part of you feels worry and another part doesn’t like that. Makes sense, right? If you agree with the part that dislikes worry, breathe and feel that part of your body or mind and let it know that you agree. Worry can feel very uncomfortable and frustrating!
3. Learn how to love yourself, even your worry.
If possible (and don’t force it), ask if the part(s) of you that do not like your worry to step back for a moment so you can send a little breath or curiosity toward the sensation of worry. Ask the worry what it believes would happen if it did not worry this way. If you get an answer like, “I’d feel so much better.” That’s probably a different part. See if you can imagine why the worry doesn’t just stop. In almost all cases, the worry has a reason for being there. It is in some way trying to help you. Even if you don’t deeply understand it, breathe internally toward this sensation sending genuine compassion to this worried part. Let it know that it is not alone. You are there. Enjoy the integrated sense of calm when this worried part senses your presence.
4. Establish a practice to increase your sense of Self.
Finally, the more Self qualities you have available to you, the more your parts will feel safe, secure and calm. Notice if you can tell when you are feeling a part of you. Also look for times when you feel you are authentically looking through your own eyes of curiosity and care. See if you can genuinely get more curious and compassionate with your parts. Your subpersonalities (your internal family) will recognize you as their good leader and you will build your strong, confident foundation.
You have the power within your physical body, nervous system and personality to strengthen and encourage yourself through stressful times.
No more will you need to completely collapse into panic or depression. It takes practice and dedication, but this practice is intuitive and so healthy you will want more each day.
For help along the way, pick up Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief and Self-Confidence.