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Prior to learning about IFS, I expected myself to be clear, decisive, certain, and single minded. Of course, there were times when I was confused, unable to make decisions or stick to them, unsure, and conflicted. The contrast between how my mind worked and how I thought it should work was a constant source of embarrassment and frustration. I assumed there was something wrong with me. So, I pretended to have it together while working hard to get it together.
Eventually, I discovered who I really am. I am the essential Self at the core of my being. As a Self, I am supported by a body with organs and limbs and a mind made up of parts or subpersonalities. Many of my parts have taken on extreme roles and are inspired by concepts that they hold as true. When one of these parts blends with my consciousness, my perspective is altered by the beliefs, values, and objectives of that part.
Until I become aware that the beliefs of a part are influencing me, I think, feel, and react as if the belief is true. Once the part unblends, I return to a perspective that accurately reflects current reality. Consequently, my thoughts, feelings, and responses are relevant to circumstances as they are.
Some of our beliefs are ideas that our young parts embraced as true at a time in our lives when we felt alone, confused, helpless, powerless, or hopeless. The ideas that worked to help us survive the most challenging moments of our lives stuck with us because they gave us power, help, and hope when we needed it. When ideas get sticky enough, they seem true. A belief is a thought that occurs as the truth. When a thought becomes a belief, we accept it as truth – even if it’s not true.
As we find safety and security in our lives, some of the ideas that formed our belief systems are no longer useful. To change these beliefs, we can connect with the parts that hold them and give them the opportunity to reset their perspective. If a reality update is accepted by a part, old beliefs can be spontaneously unburdened.
Nancy loved her job, and her employer loved the job she did for them. She quickly learned how to master every task and to efficiently achieve all she was asked to do. The more she accomplished, the more her employer asked her to do. Eventually, she became so overwhelmed with the pressure to keep up with it all, she broke down in her employer’s office and gave notice that she was going to quit.
Her employer was caught completely off guard. They had no idea that Nancy was unhappy and feeling overwhelmed. When her employer offered to hire a part time person to help her, Nancy decided to stay.
The parts of Nancy that had been most dominant in this situation held beliefs that influenced her to take on far more than she could comfortably accomplish. When her employer realized she was overwhelmed, they showed their appreciation for the value she provided by giving her a raise and some help.
As Nancy told her IFS Practitioner, Sheryl what happened, Sheryl suggested it would be a good time to update her parts. The part of Nancy that believed she had no value and the part that tried to overcome that belief by working so hard were both updated and were able to release the desperate need to earn recognition and acceptance at work. This update provided enough of an unburdening for these parts that they had room to learn new strategies based on current reality.
Both parts agreed to work together to help Nancy set limits on what she said yes to. With the help of her updated parts, Nancy found a helper who was highly skilled at the things she didn’t especially enjoy and handed those tasks off to them.
I am a Certified IFS Practitioner and have completed two levels of IFS training. IFS stands for Internal Family Systems, a therapy model with powerful applications for life coaching. If you are thinking of hiring a life coach and would like to experience a sample session using IFS, go to my online calendar and find an hour that works for you.
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