This is part three of a four-part series on Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy. In previous posts, I touched on the importance of the Self in IFS. This time around, we’ll dive deeper. After all, it is a foundational component of this effective treatment option. But first, let’s recap a little about IFS Therapy.
The “family” in Internal Family Systems is a collection of all your parts. The Self, of course, is your core but it can be overshadowed by sub-personalities that are behaving dysfunctionally. Hence, the goal is to realign one’s parts so it becomes more accessible to tap into the Self and live a more balanced life.
What is the Self in IFS?
You can think of it as a unique experience. The uniqueness is based on the reality that only you can tap into this particular Self. You can also think of it as the part of you that is not damaged. Your other parts — sometimes called exiles, managers, and firefighters — are not the Self but they can feel like the Self when they are damaged. Part of IFS Therapy’s mission is to repair these parts so the person can once again tap into their inner wisdom.
When you learn how to consistently tap into the Self, you gain access to this kind of profound healing. This empowers you to repair the Self’s relationship with your other parts. Ideally, it’s like a dialogue between the core and its outer parts. What IFS Therapy can help you do is recognize the difference between the voices participating in that dialogue. Tapping into the Self is a powerful way to avoid identifying with damaged lesser parts.
When we are connected to our Self, the cognitive distortions have a much tougher time taking hold. IFS Therapy and IFS therapists provide tools and skills to make this a smoother and quicker process.
How Does the IFS Therapist Utilize the 5 P’s?
- Patience: The sub-personalities won’t surrender their current roles overnight
- Presence: Not judging the client or their parts
- Persistence: Even when some parts become tenacious, the commitment remains
- Perspective: The client is not the sum of their damaged parts
- Playfulness: Creating a safe space where the client’s Self and parts can interact without malice
The above treatment approaches are specifically designed to enable the client to get in synch with the 8 C’s of the Self.
What Are the 8 C’s of the Self?
- Calmness: The ability to deal with triggers in a much less reactive way
- Curiosity: Living your life with a sense of wonder
- Compassion: Being open-hearted toward others while also giving them room to tap into their own Self
- Clarity: Viewing the world without being trapped by emotions, beliefs, and fears
- Connectedness: Recognizing that you are part of a larger whole (community, culture, etc.)
- Creativity: Tapping into your imagination to express yourself and solve problems
- Courage: Standing up to threats and showing a willingness to pursue your goals
- Confidence: No longer being at the mercy of past traumas when it comes to believing in yourself
Depending on where you are in your life, the above list may seem out of reach. The beauty of IFS Therapy is that it may only take two to four sessions for you to start really seeing the internal connections that shape your life. From there, you can begin moving toward Self-leadership. You experience a strong sense of being in charge. This prepares you for life’s inevitable ups and downs.
In settings like a relationship or a workplace, IFS Therapy can give you so much more clarity. In the next installment, we’ll talk more about the many applications of IFS Therapy.