You are bad if you think, or feel, or act in certain ways.
You are good, but parts of you have experienced trauma and need help to stop thinking or feeling or acting in those ways.
The past is gone. It’s impossible to heal old traumas, so just ignore them and move on.
The traumas and difficulties in our past live on inside us, stuck in those hurtful situations. But the injured parts can be safely witnessed and healed through modern techniques such as Inner Family Systems work.
Lie 3. :
Only things we can see (behaviors) are important, and we can just decide to change and make it happen.
The inner world of inner protectors, young parts, and inner wisdom cause many of our current behaviors. They need to be understood and worked with to affect change in the world.
Lie 4. :
Our physical conditions can only be affected by physical interventions (drugs, surgery).
Inner parts of us affect our bodies , and healing them can help change painful or diseased conditions.
People get what they deserve
Since we are all good, but have hurt parts, any problems or diseases are NOT what we deserve. They come from natural events, or ignorance, or feelings from inner wounds taken out on us.
The “experts” or technology will save us.
Since we are externalizing our inner wounds, salvation can only be found in healing those wounds. “Experts” are as wounded as the rest of us, but sometimes use rationality and numbers to convince us otherwise.
This morning I woke up thinking “If our president has emotional problems, what are we doing making fun of him?” I’m a Special Education teacher. I ALWAYS stick up for the person with a disability. So what’s going on this time? Why am I watching and laughing at the “schtick” that’s happening right now?
Part of my own answer is that parts of me feel angry and powerless. It seems like this person has all the power, and he’s using it against others. So while he may have problems, he’s also beating up on other people with problems- often even more severe ones than he has. And I’m also always for the underdog, so if that battle happens, I’m for the “little guy”.
In Inner Family Systems work we learn that even though it might feel like parts of us are bad, if we look underneath we find out they are hurt child parts, trying to protect us from something in our past. So I wonder- what have women in his life done to Mr. Trump to make him feel a need to attack them? Did he experience love and connection with people even if he wasn’t “great and amazing”? What happened to him that made reality scary to face, so he needs to plaster over it with fake Time magazine covers? I realize this is vastly oversimplified, but if I want to cut his influence down to size I should also be generous in my willingness to try to understand.
In IFS we also learn that we can’t allow those wounded parts of ourselves to take over or monopolize our energy or our time. So while I can try to understand and soften my heart to Mr. Trump, I also need to take steps take care of myself, others and the world. For me this involves contemplation, writing and acting. First I need to get in touch with the wisest, deepest parts of myself so I’m not spinning along with the news cycle. I then write- the blog, facebook posts, maybe even a book- so I can share ideas with others and we can build things together. And I need to take action in the world. I regularly meet online with someone in Iran who needs some assistance in coping with her circumstances, as well as hosting a free online support group for people from around the US trying to live lives that are Self-led. Some newer things for me are writing my congressperson as well as participating in groups like Transition Towns or Inner Family Systems trainings, where people are trying to help the world shift into a more positive, whole place.
The recent NRA ad sounded to me like a call for civil war. This brought to my attention the immediacy of the need for alternatives- ones that aren’t based on the current red/blue, liberal/conservative system. We are acting like little kids who have no understanding of empathy, or woundedness, or human needs of the “other side”. I won’t contribute to that any more. Everyone deserves to be considered and understood.
My intentions to assist in shifting my/our perceptions are:
-centering at least 1x per day, and including Mr. Trump in my daily sending of positive energy
-reducing my viewing of humorous stories at his expense
-making at least 1 action per week to contribute to the political system in a new, positive way
-making at least 1 action per week to learn about or participate in new ways of being such as Transition Towns
I want to know about you- what is helping you be more centered and take positive actions at this time? What are differences or similarities with mine? I’m anxious to learn how together we can take positive steps to help ourselves, each other, and the world.
Like many other people, I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over the condition of society, especially the results of the recent election. There are obviously many different ways to look at what the election results “mean”. Here is one possible interpretation, based on my training in Inner Family Systems theory. See if it resonates with you.
In Inner Family Systems (IFS) we believe that much of our lives are handled by inner “managers”- parts of us that try to control our lives so we aren’t traumatized as we were when we were kids. Therefore, some of us try to be perfect, some try to please others, and others rebel- all so that our inner wounds aren’t jostled or otherwise reminded of sadness, fear, or anger from the past. These manager parts may blind us to the “real world” sometimes, because there are scary, sad, and frightening things happening out there. And these parts know that those things would upset our equilibrium (fragile though it may be at times).
There is another group of inner parts called “firefighters”- so called because they put out the fire of overwhelming emotion once it is ignited. These parts are our addictions and distractors, not really caring about the future, just trying to get us through the present moment without being overwhelmed by emotion. When people say “he seemed like a different person”, they are often talking about a firefighter part. These can be rageful, or sneaky, or manipulative. They cause us to do seemingly crazy things- binge on food or games, take drugs or drink (even when we know that will be harmful in the long run), even turn violent against ourselves or others. These parts don’t care about the future, only relieving present pain.
Both of these groups are trying to protect parts called “exiles”. These are the injured parts of ourselves, the ones that simply couldn’t bear to be embarrassed, or insulted, or moved to tears. When we say things like “suddenly I felt like I was 5 years old” or “ I felt like I was being taken to the principal’s office”, we have gotten in touch with an inner exile.
In some ways the recent election pitted managers against firefighters. . The logical, rational people and institutions, the ones that sometimes (or often) ignore the pain of society, were pitted against the wild, live-in-the-moment people and institutions that were hurting so badly that they threw caution to the winds. The firefighters won- which, as any addict or compulsive person knows, can produce much pain in the aftermath.
So, it seems that society needs therapy. We need to find ways to face, witness and release old burdens that are keeping us tied to the past and not conscious about our current needs and feelings. We need to figure out how to get our “parts” working together- look underneath the managers to the true history and pain, calm the firefighters enough to begin the healing process, put different parts of society in touch with each other and out of the echo chambers they are operating within. And we need to heal the exiles, to lift their burdens bring into the present all the old issues that are still festering and hurting us from the past.
Fortunately, inside of each of us (and society as a whole), there is a core Self. From this Self we can listen to the parts without being overwhelmed, take compassionate action, and even heal old wounds. This has been found to be true with everyone from abusers to victims, from addicts to leaders in business and industry, from arguing couples to warring factions like Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East. All of us have this core Self, which we can find when we listen to the inner parts with compassion and curiosity. A key question in unblending from parts and stepping into Self energy is: “How do I feel toward this part?” If we are in Self we will feel something from this list: clarity, compassion, courage, confidence, curiosity, creativity, calmness and connectedness. .
We can each take a first step toward healing, for ourselves and for society as a whole. The principles are simple but not easy.
I’ve become uncomfortable with the level of vitriol against Donald Trump and his followers. I have enjoyed some of it, cringed at some. So I looked inside to find out what I truly thought and felt, and what I might do about that.
A friend of mine has said that most of America’s ills are caused by greed- people wanting more and more wealth, not caring so much about others and how much they have. As I have learned more about how our country functions, I have come to believe that he’s at least partially right. Greed is involved in many of the ills of our society. From CEO's who are taking a lion's share of company wealth to rich people lobbying for tax relief, from companies moving their money out of the country to companies buying up water in parched land, we need to check what we're doing and why. And stop doing it!
Greed seems to me to have many psychological causes and nuances. One person’s greedy feelings and needs are totally different from another’s. I thought I’d try to identify some of the ones I’ve experienced and seen, and ask others to post what they observe. This post is entitled “greedy parts of ourselves” because that’s where we all need to start. It’s about raising consciousness in our country. When we change our own minds about things it starts the ball rolling.
For me, when I have wanted more money it was often about providing for my children. I wanted them to have the best toys, books, lessons, housing, trips and education I could provide. I even owned a house with an in-ground pool (in Minnesota, no less!) so they would be happy. I loved them so much I couldn’t imagine them not having what they needed or wanted. I think many other people do this too. Some of us have grown up feeling somewhat deprived and vowed not to do that to our children. Others of us were given a lot as children and want to live up to that and more for our children. In movies the father is always saying “I did it for you” when explaining his striving to make more and more money. I believe this is one cause for seeming greediness- it isn’t for us, it’s for our kids.
Healing this pattern is difficult, because many of us get irrational around child-rearing issues. One thing that has helped me was to do some deep breathing and ask myself if this was really about the child, or about my own childhood. Those parts of me that were trying so hard to make my kids happy could then relax a bit, realizing it wasn’t as much of a life or death need and more of an “extra” that could be done without at that moment. Of course, this doesn’t apply to people who are just trying to give their children the basics of food, clothing and education. Then it isn’t causing greed, it’s probably just causing despair and hopelessness.
Another pattern I’ve experienced and observed is trying to live up to what I see happening around me. If other people have nice things, go on great vacations, or spend money on new gadgets then I sometimes want that also. Human beings instinctively imitate others in order to learn, which advertisers take to the nth degree in the things they show us. It has sometimes helped me and others to actually stop looking at those ads, and to consciously make decisions about where we want our money to go rather than being unconscious and mimicking others.
We humans also tend to be competitive and to stretch ourselves in what we can do and attain. So there is a tendency for people, especially those at the top end of scales, to try to get higher and higher. This can also be reinforced by the amount of responsibility someone has. If you get to the top of a corporation or company there is a tendency to compete in the income arena also- people think they work so hard, have so much pressure and responsibility that they are worth more to the company. And they will go somewhere else if they don’t get that much money (even though they don’t really need more money to live on). This viewpoint is very much reinforced by society, so it’s hard to contradict. One way to do that might be for people to trade time for money- many working people say they would like more time off and be willing to take less money for it. It also might be good to do internal work on the competitive and stressed inner parts that are driving this. Finding out what they are trying to prove, what past shortcoming they might be trying to negate, and then healing those will help to lessen this inner competitiveness.
Last but not least is the impulse to achieve in the present to overcome shame from the past. I know I have perfectionist parts that are still trying to prove my mom wrong- I’m not the lazy, incompetent person she sometimes told me I was. We all have things in the past that we are trying to deny, forget, or disprove. Gathering wealth is one way people do that. The more the better. Billionaire is better than millionaire. The tallest building is better than being second. If we just do this one more thing better, or more, or perfectly, then hopefully we’ll feel like we’re valuable and loved. This, too, is something that can be worked with on the inside of ourselves. If we heal those parts that are driving us, we can finally relax and realize we’re good enough.
I don’t really know anyone who is super rich, but I can imagine that there is more of all of these things in that case- more trying to make children happy, more trying to live up to the things others have, more competition, and more temptation to make ourselves feel less ashamed through wealth and belongings. My impression is that the competition, especially, kicks in at those levels. Buying corporations and buildings can seem like a competitive game, and winning seems like a “high”. Getting congress to write laws just for them is part of the game, and it’s easy not to think about who might get hurt if things go their way.
I hope we can find ways to heal our greedy parts, and that this helps our society to become more equal and less frantic. This is one of my many hopes for America. It is important for the future of our country and our world.
America today is waking up to a myriad of different voices. Some of the voices are quiet, peaceful and gentle. Some of the voices are screechy, violent, insulting, whiny, or preachy. There are many different kinds of tones, feelings, and points of view being voiced in many ways. .
I am an emotional healing coach, and also a certified teacher. In this blog I'll talk about emotional challenges and how to survive them using Internal Family Systems concepts and skills..