One of the models I use in therapy is Internal Family Systems (IFS). A few of the core tenets of IFS include:
Each blog post in this series will examine one of The 8 C words.
Think about how your life might be different if the next time you had a fight with your wife or felt overwhelmed by unexpected bad news you paused to observe how this experience felt in your physical body and your emotional body.
I hear clients criticize and judge themselves for big and small indiscretions. They say incredibly harsh things to themselves such as, “You’re a terrible person. Nobody would treat someone they love like you just treated your wife. What an absolute failure.” Other critical voices might say, “You should have anticipated this terrible event from happening. You’re so stupid.”
These are automatic reactions. It is as if our responses are mindlessly on autopilot.
But, if instead of cutting yourself down like an overgrown hedge of honeysuckle you paused and asked, “Why am I feeling this way right now?” [CURIOSITY] or “What does this part of me need right now to calm down?” [COMPASSION] or “What do I need to do to repair this situation?” [COURAGE]? This is the opposite of mindlessly reacting. This is mindfully responding to a situation. This mature response takes a lot of intentional effort . . . but believe me it’s worth it.
It is my hope that each of us (including myself) learns to see the train of anger and fear coming toward us and step out of the way before it runs us over. One of the best ways to do this is to use our bodies as emotional divining rods picking up the boiling anger or fear. It may be that swell of emotion deep in your gut or that familiar tightness in your neck and shoulders. What if you were able to recognize the moment you start to emotionally withdrawing from a conversation with your mother or father and be curious about that rather than repeating the pattern of dissociation you’ve experienced since childhood?
Finally, with IFS you never have to go looking for what to work on. Any time you feel a strong emotional response to something, that is a part (or parts) trying to get your attention, “Hey! Look over here! I need your attention right now! We’ve got a prooobleeem!”
Parts have the fatal flaw of being beholden to the tyranny of the now. They feel like whatever is triggering them must be dealt with strongly and immediately. The job of your True Self is to give perspective to each of your parts (especially the triggered ones) by hearing them, seeing them, honoring them but not letting them take charge and act out through unhealthy thoughts and actions that you will most likely regret.
The 8 C’s are a guide intended to help you navigate the murky waters of emotion and unconscious reactions. As you practice manifesting one or several of The 8 C’s on a regular basis the resulting self-control that has eluded you for so long will become invigorating. You will gain a deeper understanding of what is motivating those once seemingly irrational behaviors. With greater awareness brings an intuitive understanding of what needs to be done to take care of yourself in your normal day-to-day life as well as those highly charged moments. When you take bold steps to improve yourself you will notice more and more how you are sidestepping unnecessary negative situations that have caused such turmoil and chaos in your past.
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