Internal Family Systems: Understanding and Loving Each Part of Yourself
Understanding, studying, and implementing Family Systems ideas in my practice has transformed both my own life and my clients’ lives and relationships. Recently, I’ve been meeting with a group of local Kansas City Therapists to dive into even more research and studies within the Family Systems realm, including the Internal Family Systems (IFS) Model created by Richard Schwartz.
Meeting weekly to learn, discuss, and grow together has been incredibly empowering, and I have already begun implementing IFS exercises in my practice and have seen healing results in my clients.
What Is Internal Family Systems?
IFS gives us the tools to understand and honor the many different parts of us that are born from our deepest wounds.
IFS would define individual health as when we are at peace with all of the parts that make up who we are, and they are also working in harmony together.
However, this healthy state can be difficult for us to achieve due to several factors in our lives. For some, roadblocks to reaching this healthy state might be:
- Shame that we hold about these parts of ourselves.
- Negative cultural beliefs about our parts.
- The inability to see how our parts are interacting or serving us in positive ways.
- A combination of these scenarios, and more.
How Do We Reach This Healthy State?
The journey to reaching this healthy state looks different for everyone, but it is always full of healing and growth.
Practicing IFS allows you to spend time with each part of yourself and take the time to understand why that part is present. What does that thought, feeling, or part of yourself want you to learn from it? Understanding why each part exists can give us insight into how the parts are serving us.
For example, one of my clients was struggling with the belief that he isn’t good enough and that nothing he does is his best. On the surface, he hates that he is so critical of himself, but he also fears that without this part of himself he would become lazy and less successful. Through the lens of IFS, he has been able to reconcile this belief and fear, and help them interact in a way that allows him to appreciate this part of his identity that pushes him to achieve greatness.
Remember: every single part of us, every thought, every feeling, has a good intent. It is present in our mind and body for a reason. One of the worst things we can do is ignore these parts or deem them as bad, and therefore remove the possibility of learning from them.
Why IFS Is Important To Our Well-Being?
After taking the time to understand each part of our identity and the emotions and feelings that shape our actions, we are able to constructively work towards growth. Sometimes this may look like finding peace in the midst of stress or overcoming a long-held fear.
We can all benefit from understanding who we are on a deeper level. I encourage you to take some time today to sit with your thoughts and emotions and thank them for their presence. They each serve a purpose.
If you want to learn more about how therapy can help you grow, heal, and provide clarity in your life, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.