Today I want to write about IFS the Internal Family System Model that has helped me so much throughout our journey. It is about making a U-turn into our Internal System. It is called ‘Family’ because all our different parts/feelings are our internal family and create who we are. The model gives an insight into our feelings and acting. You get to know yourself on many different levels which helps to deal with any ups and downs in life. And not just that you also learn to understand other people’s actions better and you will interact with much more ease. Let me explain more…
Does the following sound familiar to you? “She is not herSelf anymore”…or “I don’t know what’s wrong, but that is not Me, I normally don’t act like this…”
When we are in ourSelf, we are balanced, confident and compassionate. You can tell when you meet someone who is balanced and genuinely happy for others. They act and speak from their heart. When we feel in contrast anger, jealousy or bitterness to just name a few, we let our parts speak. We tend to lash out and nothing is good enough. We become unbalanced and our Self/heart is taken over by our parts. It becomes even visible in our facial expressions and voice. We all know how people full of anger or bitterness appear. Underneath all this acting lays unprocessed pain. Our most precious vulnerable feelings/parts got locked away in order to avoid listening to what they need to say.
Let me give you an example from my journey. Not getting pregnant is very stressful. I went through all sorts of negative feelings and one of them in particular was that I felt punished. Everybody around me who wanted to have kids had no problem getting pregnant – so why me? When I mentioned to a friend that I feel punished, she became upset and said. “What a stupid thought, how can you think that?” Of course all she wanted was helping me, but all I felt after this answer was still being punished and and on top being stupid. Another negative part had showed up in addition. It seemed getting worse than better and here comes IFS into play…
IFS teaches, take a step back and listen to your parts and have compassion as opposed to ignoring or pushing them away by other parts. I listened to the punished part and started to acknowledge it: “Of course you have this feeling given the circumstances around you.” Showing compassion to this part had helped me to let mySelf rise, the Self that has the power to take care of vulnerable parts. Being with my ‘punished part’ calmed it and the pain went away much faster and other positive and supportive thoughts had the chance to rise again. Thanks to mySelf my very own precious therapist.
Another word for Self could be also heart or soul. There is a great metaphor from Dr. Schwartz the creator for IFS: The Self is the conductor and the parts are the orchestra, if they play a wonderful symphony they are all in line. If they play terrible music the Self is not in charge anymore and the parts took over.
Most people think, if we do listen to our pain it becomes worse and unbearable. The opposite is the truth, once we start to listen and to acknowledge the pain it will relax. It will not relax as long as we ignore it and distract ourselves with many common actions such as working harder, partying longer or any other kind of extreme.
Locked away feelings constantly pulsate, they never give up wanting to be heard and seen. We also cannot eliminate them because they are a part of us. People often don’t know why they feel so drained. Think about how much energy it takes each day to suppress feelings and distract them by other actions.
As soon as you start listening to your feelings, you will see a big difference in how you feel about yourself and how much peace and ease you will invite into your life again. It’s worth trying it.
If you like to read more about IFS , please visit http://www.selfleadership.org. The movie ‘Inside Out’ is also highly recommended by Dr. Richard Schwartz. It gives great insight into the model.
If you have any questions let me know!
Enjoy your day!