Internal Family Systems (IFS): Protectors



The role of ‘Firefighters’ in Internal Family Systems is to protect you from danger whether it’s real or perceived to be real.
As a protector, Firefighters can range from mild to extreme. They try to make sure that you are protected from overwhelming and upsetting emotions so they won’t take over our inner system.
> Proactively prevent danger and reactively respond to danger.
> Can put a strain on your systems if they are activated for too long or too often.
> They have positive intentions and try to stop the pain from an exile when it is triggered.
In general, they want to relax and have fun and try to help guide you from getting stressed by encouraging you to destress by unwinding after work or going to see a movie.  When a firefighter takes over to protect the inner system, the result might be something extreme and impulsive such as drinking or overeating after a breakup to stop the pain, quitting your job to show your boss how upset you are at being treated unfairly, going on a shopping spree to make you feel better as a distraction from intense emotions, or lashing out and cutting people off instead of talking openly about your issues and trying to find helpful solutions.
Firefighters tend to use extreme behaviors because at one point in your life, this behavior was needed to help you survive.