Elyce Gordon Counseling, LLC (917) 922-5050
Are you looking to get a better handle on your life, and are finding that self-criticism, procrastination or other self-created obstacles are holding you back? How would your life be different if each decision and action came from a clear centered place? IFS teaches a systematic way of working with the problematic parts of yourself and shows you how to live from your most authentic Self in a gentle loving supportive way.
IFS is based on the idea that the psyche consists of sub-personalities, called parts, which make up a kind of inner system. Parts often get into conflicts with each other and act in dysfunctional ways in an attempt to protect us from pain. All of this happens largely outside our awareness, and when we do see what is happening, we frequently try to banish the parts that are causing the difficulties. Yet this is hardly ever solves the problem. IFS, on the other hand, teaches us to relate to our parts with openness, curiosity, and compassion, not judgment, which allows each part to reveal its hidden agenda and the pain it defends against. This paves the way for healing and transformation.
The psyche is largely organized to protect itself from pain, which is why IFS makes a distinction between parts that are in pain and parts that protect us from it. Protectors are parts that handle the external world and protect against vulnerability and pain. Exiles are young child parts that are in pain from the past. Protectors try to arrange our lives so that people can’t hurt our exiles, and when this does happen, protectors shut us down emotionally to keep us from feeling the pain. This noble effort doesn’t really work; the suffering still leaks through at odd moments. Furthermore, the defenses instituted by protectors make us relate to the world in troublesome ways, or they blunt our aliveness or rob us of important capacities. IFS is able to transform the psyche by relying on the healing power of our true Self or spiritual center, which has four important qualities (connectedness, curiosity, compassion, and calmness)
IFS work is not primarily about understanding your parts intellectually, although that does happen. It involves going deep inside and accessing them on an experiential level through emotions, images, body sensations, or internal dialogue. You engage the part in a relationship and come to understand it on a gut level. When deciding where to focus in a session, you may look for a trailhead–an experience or issue in your life that involves emotional reactions indicating the need for inner work. Exploring the trailhead will reveal the parts behind these reactions. This can then lead to healing.
In the IFS process, before you can get to know one of your parts in a beneficial way, you must be in Self. Self is separate from its parts. Self is the inner resource within you that provides healing to the parts of yourself that have been burdened with dysfunctional feelings, thoughts and behaviors over the course of your life. The Self helps to bring the parts back to their natural state of being by providing the parts with the Self's leadership qualities which IFS calls the 8 C's. They are: confidence, creativity, clarity, curiosity, courage, calmness, connectedness and compassion. These are qualities that were once part of their natural state but have been taken away and replaced with dysfunctional patterns because of trauma. Once you learn how to come from the Self, you will be able to take charge, heal these parts, and have stability within your life.
IFS teaches a new and loving way to relate to our parts. Usually when we become aware of one, the first thing we do is evaluate it. Is it good or bad? Do we like it or not? If we decide it is good, we embrace it, give it power, and act from it. If we decide it is bad, however, we try to get rid of it. However, that doesn’t work. You can’t get rid of a part of yourself. All you can do is push it into the unconscious, where it will continue to affect you without your awareness. In IFS, we do something radically different from evaluating our parts. We welcome all our parts with curiosity and compassion, which allows us to connect with each part, gain its trust, and ultimately heal it. We don’t judge the “problem” parts; rather, we seek to understand them and appreciate their efforts to help us, without losing sight of the ways they cause problems. It is the spiritual quality of the Self that gives us the capacity to be so completely accepting. You will learn how to tell if you are in Self and how to access Self so you can successfully work with a protective part.
The brilliance of IFS is that it allows you to be both objective and compassionate; that is, you can both see the part as it really is and accept it. These two qualities form a potent combination that is rare in methods of inner work.
Every part of your psyche is doing its best to help you, even those protectors that are a thorn in your side. Each protector truly believes it is safeguarding you from pain or harm, even though its methods may be misguided. Understanding that it has a positive intent helps you to appreciate it rather than reject it.
When we analyze our parts intellectually, we cannot truly understand and connect with them. The information we obtain will be limited and we won’t develop the deeper relationship with parts that is crucial to the rest of the healing process.You will learn how to ask parts revealing, insightful questions and genuinely listen to their responses, which may come in words, in images, in body sensations, in emotions, or from direct knowing. In this way you make a direct experiential connection with your parts.
In IFS, working with a protector isn’t just a matter of getting information and insight. You must build a trusting relationship with it. You cannot reach exiles without permission from the protectors that are standing guard over them and preventing access. The reason protectors take on extreme roles in the first place is that they believe they are on their own in defending against threats and suffering. Either they don’t know that Self is there, or they don’t believe it has enough strength and wisdom to handle threatening situations. Success in IFS depends on the degree to which you connect with protectors and gain their trust. Then they can begin to relax and allow the Self to take a larger role in dealing with the world. You will learn how to develop a trusting relationship with a protector.
You will learn the IFS process of getting to know a protector. You will also learn how to handle a variety of experiences that may arise during these steps that don’t fit neatly into the progression. While working with a part, you might suddenly space out and lose focus; you might become distracted; your feelings might go numb. Whenever something seems to be going wrong like this, it is because a protector part has taken over that wants to stop the process. You simply need to realize this and engage with that protector to find out why it needed to derail the work.
While you are focusing on a particular part, other feelings can burst onto the stage, confusing you as to where to focus. Or you might be flooded with a variety of intense feelings. Sometimes new protectors can creep in unexpectedly and take you out of Self without your knowing this. Other times you may be talking to a protector and the exile it is protecting arises without your realizing it; you still think you are relating to the protector. When any of these events occur, the process could be derailed. Fortunately, IFS has ways of handling all these contingencies. A central principle in IFS is “All parts are welcome.” This means that you are open to hearing from all parts, which allows you to tell when a part that seems to be “interfering” has an important message that shouldn’t be ignored. At the same time, IFS helps you to stay on track with the original target part.
This is the first segment of the overall IFS process. It sets the stage for working with polarized parts and healing your inner child parts (exile parts).
I am an excellent guide with an engaging manner with a calm and sensitive presence. I will help you to come from your authentic self and shine. Learn to be the unique you that you were meant to be!
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