Inspired by an incredible recent conference that I attended, “The Internal Family Systems Model,” I’ve been thinking a lot about the parts of each of us that holds us back from whatever it is we really want to achieve. If we allow ourselves to get to know these parts, as the model suggests, in a curious and compassionate way, we may just find our ticket out of the swamp and onto the fast lane of the highway toward our goals.
So, how do we get to know our “parts” and has this Life Coach gone completely mad? The first answer is actually quite simple, and then, you can assess the second one. Here’s the step by step breakdown, when you have privacy and are in a comfortable and private environment:
1. Identify a goal you would like to achieve but are feeling held back from. For example, beginning internet dating.
2. Ask yourself, “What is the part of me that is holding me back?” For example, “My shy part is holding me back.”
3. Begin opening your heart to that part, in this example, your shy part, and get curious about it.
4. Ask the shy part (or whatever part you’re working with) open ended questions as if it were a friend that you were helping with an issue. Examples of questions would be: What is your job? Why do you feel you need to do that job? What are you afraid would happen if you didn’t do that job? What do you (my part) need from me? Continue with any other questions that feel right to you. Take your time.
5. Treat whatever answers come up compassionately, without judgment, the way you would treat a vulnerable friend during discussion of his/her issue.
6. Be prepared to discover some surprising and insightful answers from your part. An example of an answer from a shy part might be, “If I didn’t do my job of protecting you, you might face rejection the way you did as a teenager.” Reassure your part that you hear and understand what it’s about.
I hope that you access the courage to take a leap of faith and try this “Internal Family Systems” exercise. If you feel comfortable sharing, I would love to hear from you regarding what you discover as you get to know your parts.