Coming a-PART in a positive way

If you've worked with me in the last 6 months, you surely noticed my new love affair of talking about PARTS. 
"Part of me is delighted to be performing, but other parts are tired and overwhelmed."
"Part of me wants to eat all the chocolate chip cookies....and another part wants to take a nap....and another part thinks I should go for a run and eat carrots."
"Part of me is distracted today by all the other things I need to get done."

So what's the deal with the parts language? I remember when I first started seeing my therapist I said to her, "I'm open to trying IFS (Internal Family Systems), but do we have to talk about Parts all the time?" Even the instructor of my recent Level 1 IFS training would often say that when she was first introduced to the model, she would say, "yeah, yeah, yeah, it all sounds good, but do we really have to talk about parts?

It's pretty normal to have some concerns about this way of talking. Here are some reasons I think it's worth trying.

1. It's calming to our system to simply identify all of the activated Parts. To find the part who has anxiety, or who is mad, or skeptical - just that knowledge alone sometimes brings a shift and creates more openness and curiosity.

2. Parts language helps create healthy compartmentalization. You can even make a deal with your parts, to promise to spend time with activated parts at a convenient time, so you can focus, perform, create, write, etc when you need to. The key is that you must follow through or your parts will learn to distrust this deal.

3. It gives us one step of space between US as a person and the emotion, thought, or physical sensation. The Part is not all of me. I am more than this thought, feeling, sensation, or action. Even our more extreme feelings are parts - parts that contribute to self sabotage, writer's block, stage fright, etc. And beyond the creative world, extreme parts show up in eating disorders, sexually acting out, cutting, drinking, drugs, you name it. Even these challenging feelings and actions, they do not encompass the entirety of our being. 

4. Our parts always have a positive intention. It may not be immediately obvious, but it's there. Self sabotage is a way to protect from external rejection. Performance anxiety is a strong message that tender parts need more care. Eating disorders are a way to control life. Finding the positive intention gives space for self compassion, which builds on itself to extend compassion to all people. It makes dealing with humans that much easier. 

4. We all have Parts. No one is immune. It's a great human equalizer. Some of us have parts that are more extreme, but Parts are always acting from a positive intention, even if the action is deplorable. It's easier to bring more compassion to our self, and to others, when we know we or they are acting from parts. 

5. We can witness and truly unburden parts that are carrying old wounds and traumas. This is life changing, people. Rather than shoving, pushing, pulling, twisting, contorting so that those old wounds don't come out in weird ways, or they do come out and affect those around you, IFS offers a way to truly heal. This is done by...
6. ....treating parts like people. You are a person, and your parts are part of you. Not that you have to think or believe you have a multitude of people living in and around your body. But using our natural interpersonal skills, we listen to the parts and the stories they carry. 

7. So much nuance and clarity comes with Parts language, because the inner complexity of our being is more fully seen, understood, verbalized, witnessed.

8. Parts can be seen as members of the orchestra, and SELF is the conductor.SELF is that core essence of who you are, that energy of you that is naturally full of Confidence, Courage, Compassion, Curiosity, Creativity, Calm, Connection, Clarity, and Choice. It is relieving and calming to know that no Part is in charge. SELF becomes the natural leader of all the parts and our system. 

I'm truly curious, how does the Parts language strike you? I'd really love to know. Now that I am thoroughly at ease with this language shift, it would be super helpful to get a fresh perspective again from people who are just being acquainted with this way of working. Leave a comment on the blog, or drop me a note.