lucasforstmeyer-IFS-one-self-many-parts

What Personal Growth can learn from Internal Family Systems

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This article is about what Personal Growth can learn from IFS. 

IFS stands for Internal Family Systems, a modern approach to therapy that is based on a very user-friendly approach to working with inner parts.

I want to present one of the fundamental perspectives in IFS and how it can benefit people interested in their personal growth, potential and transformation. 
You do not have to buy into the complete IFS system or model to benefit from this perspective. 

IFS Perspective:
We all have many Parts 
and one Essential Self

Accroding to IFS we all have many parts and one Self. 

A Part is a part of our personality, also called a subpersonality. We all have different Parts and each one has a unique perspective on the world, including specific behaviours, feelings and beliefs.
Example: I am confident at work, I know what I am worth etc. Yet I feel weak and worthless as soon as I interact with a woman. 

The Self is our True or Essential Being. It is not a Part of our personality, but an expression of who we really are. The Self encompasses certain qualities of presence that naturally arise when we are connected to our Essence, like clarity, compassion and courage.
Example: In meditation, we can experience a level of calm and connectedness beyond a conceptual level. 

Different parts are active at different times. And the Self – even though we may not be aware of it – is always present and can be accessed through simple tools.

Why is this perspective powerful for personal growth?

Personal growth is usually about 2 things: 

  • transforming old Patterns of feeling, acting and thinking that are currently holding us back and creating suffering
  • and developing access to new ways of Being in the world

The IFS perspective makes both undertakings very concrete and offers a simple perspective on what it means to reach either: 

  • How can I work with the parts that are creating the Pattern in my life so that they do not have to do that anymore?
  • And how can I deepen the access to my Self so that I can be present in it in my daily life?

How can you use this for your personal growth?

By starting to use the above distinction and perspectives we can develop fundamental skill every human should know. This is what I really care about because I think beyond being an approach to therapy, IFS teaches us how to be adult humans. 

Some of the most fundamental skills are:

  1. Learn to identify your parts – Both in general, by discerning your patterns of behaviour and emotion AND at the moment, while they are active in you. 
  2. Learn to ‘unblend’ from parts – That means how you can support parts to separate from your Self and if needed create space yourself
  3. Learn how to develop a relationship between your parts and your Self – because transformation happens through the relationship between Self and Parts.
  4. Beyond Inner Work: Using parts language can transform our relationships – By learning to speak FOR our parts (I have a part that is fucking angry right now) rather than from our Parts (FUCK YOU) we can transform the way we relate to one another.