In the Internal Family Systems model, we learn to understand and connect to all parts of ourselves.
When people focus on, and are able to separate from their extreme emotions and thoughts, they begin to connect to qualities within themselves that make for good leadership, internally and externally.
What would it mean for you to find more space to enjoy life by getting curious and compassionate about the different parts of you?
What would it feel like to live in a fuller more authentic way, instead of torturing yourself as you wrestle with the parts of yourself you’re desperately trying to hide or ignore?
We can indeed learn to love the most difficult parts of ourselves to love. As you lay the foundation of loving even the most difficult parts of yourself it opens you to a revolutionary kind of love for others in desperate need of more self compassion.
The truth is in healing our own internal struggles, begins the healing of our intrapersonal struggles, allowing us to experiences safety, trust and love.
How do we do this?
- First turn your attention inside. Focus in on our thoughts, emotions, images, and sensations.
- External focus keeps us fixed on being prepared for dangers and also to seek a source of satisfaction outside of ourselves.
- Notice this may be uncomfortable. We may be afraid of what we will find if we’re curious. You may have worked hard for organize your life in such a way to avoid the opportunity to notice what’s inside.
The truth is we all have ongoing, complex relationships with many different inner voices, thought patterns, and emotions similar to relationships we have with other people.
When we have knotted up, dysfunctional internal relationships of course our outer relationships parallel the inner. It makes sense that if we fear our own inner critique we will fear the judgement of others. However if we relate to ourselves in compassionate ways that compassion and empathy will permeate our lives.
What if we moved from hating, fearing, arguing with, trying to ignore, lock up, or get rid of those feelings and beliefs and learn to become curious, which can lead to inner compassion.
When people focus on, and are able to separate from their extreme emotions and thoughts, they spontaneously manifest qualities that make for good leadership, internally and externally. We ALL have qualities such as curiousity, compassion, calmness, confidence, courage, clarity, creativity and connectedness at our core.
In unblending from protective parts or overwhelmed parts we can understand “a part” of me feels…., NOT all of me. This allows you to bring comfort and meet internal needs. This also allows you to connect to the most authentic SELF inside of you. When you are in tune with your SELF, you feel immediately at ease internally. In turn, you also feel immediately at ease with someone else when they are self led.
So what does “Self Leadership” look like?
Richard Schwartz posits that we ALL have these qualities such as curiousity, compassion, calmness, confidence, courage, clarity, creativity and connectedness at our core. At times, our wounds have made these qualities tricky to connect to! Let’s look a little closer at these qualities…
The 8 C’s of Self Leadership
- Calm - this calmness is rooted in a trust that you can handle what comes your way. As you embody your authentic self you find less activity in your body and mind, less worry and overwhelming responsibility for things you cannot control. You experience less reactive responses to things that happen around you and to you. In the midst of the waves of emotions, through both pain and joy, you can hold a calm center.
- Clarity - “the ability to perceive situations without distortion from extreme beliefs and emotions.” We can quickly jump to conclusions based on previous experience or current desire, instead of pausing to take a fresh open look at a person or circumstance. The Buddhist concept of “the beginners mind,” a perspective in which many possibilities exist because of the absence of preconception and projection. In contrast, “the expert’s mind,” is overflowing with beliefs that limit perception and possibility. Parts think they are experts, an authentic Self always has a beginners mind.
- Curiosity is the heart of the IFS approach. If we don’t pre-judge things we can be perpetually curious. It is how our authentic self relates to not only other people but also to inner voices/parts of self. When we can sit in curiosity it is disarming, both people and our internal parts no longer need to protect themselves because instead we are seeking to understand not judge. This is a form of “witnessing” - asking and listening with genuine curiosity with intent to achieve compassion.
- Compassion is not about pity or even empathy. Pity involves protective distancing and a measure of condescension. Empathy is about identifying with another’s pain. Empathy opens your heart and can produce a strong desire to help. Compassion leads to helping another find their own sense of authentic Self and healing. This looks like being open heartedly present without feeling the urge to change them or distance away from them.
- Confidence: A self-led person can remain calm and clear in the face of anger because they trust that no matter what the offended person claims happened, they know who they are inside. We become defensive not because someone is attacking us but rather because the attack provokes our own inner critics, triggering our own worthlessness and terror. A self led person who embodies confidence also has a sense of “grace” for themselves and others. There is a sense of authenticity and knowing that it will all be okay.
- Courage- our authentic Self can be forceful and protective. We can be forceful without judgment, having the courage to recognize the damage we do to others and try to make amends. As our authentic Self emerges we find a willingness to go toward our shame and pain. It takes courage to look and courage to act on what we see.
- Creativity - “the rational mind doesn’t nourish you. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.” Anne Lamott. As you connect to your authentic self you tap into a creative wisdom as the inner noise diminishes. As we are released from the grip of our inner critiques there is an increased desire and ability to enter into a “flow” state of expression.
- Connectedness - as we are more connected to our authentic Self, we can become more connected to others around us. Like a tuning fork we become magnetic. Others innately feel you are safe and non-judgmental