What is IFS?
Have you ever decided to go on a diet and then gone straight home to the leftover chocolate cake in your fridge? Or had a short day at work, excited to go home and get a bunch of stuff done only to find yourself watching Netflix? Or maybe you got invited to a dinner party and you feel the “I wonna go - maybe I don’t” thoughts in your mind.
We all have our own inner deliberations and sometimes conflicts, we just don’t notice most of the time because it’s normal. It’s how we function, it’s how we deliberate the pros and cons of a certain situation, it’s how we make decisions.
Each of us is a system of parts - emotions, aspects, convictions, beliefs and thoughts. We are not just one thing, like our physical body with many moving parts, our psyche is also a system of many moving parts.
Most of our parts have healthy and needed functions - like your parent part or your hard worker part or your good friend part.
When something happens to us that we don’t have the capacity to understand and handle, parts of us carry that experience and the meaning we made from it, parts of us carry the hurt. For some it’s really big things like abuse and neglect. For all of us it's smaller things like being teased in school, getting lost in the supermarket, losing a friend and many other things. It’s any situation that we find ourselves in that we are not able to manage at that particular stage in life.
But life goes on. Fortunately we have parts that step in to help with that too. We need to go on and function, we can’t be wallowing in the pain. So parts come up with ways to keep us from the difficult emotions and to make sure we don’t end up in a similar situation again. We overeat, over work, we drink too much or shop excessively. Other times we might get overly angry or try to control situations that are not ours to control.
Oftentimes these parts work really hard, but don’t have a good effect on the rest of our system or their solutions kinda “expire” as we grow and change.
Then there’s our Self. It’s called many things depending on who you are - soul, compassionate witness, core. It’s the place in us that’s who we are. The center, the Self and it can’t be damaged or altered or broken. Parts of the psyche can over shadow it or take over, but Self can’t be broken.
This is such an important message for our world today because we are so focused on what’s wrong with us. Diagnoses and labels and the pursuit of perfection. No matter what you have been through, the core of you is whole and perfect. You might have parts of you that carry wounds and parts of you that’s trying to protect those wounds from being felt or protecting you from ever being hurt in that way again. But Self is still there.
This is the understanding that Internal Family systems (IFS) is based on. Over the past 40 years it’s unfolded into a compassionate world view, a way to understand ourselves and people around us.
IFS is also still a beautiful non-pathological model for working with and healing our inner systems - and thus changing how we act and react on the outside.
IFS is a very well developed and gentle model to meet your parts with compassion and curiosity. It’s used all over the world and thousands of people have found freedom and transformation using IFS. It’s a simple and easy way to relate to yourself but with a very powerful outcome.
If you want to know more about IFS you can here: https://ifs-institute.com/