Now that you and a part of you have an open line of communication, use it! The goal is for you to get to know the part and for the part to get to know you. These can happen in either order, and you can go back and forth between them. This step is usually taught as a grab bag of questions to ask, but I have teased out the goals of this stage in order to help you learn it and practice it more easily.
Let the part get to know you
Letting the part get to know you is about building trust, and that’s a three-part process. It pains me a bit to realize these are the same three steps referred to in marketing: know, like, and trust. I guess marketers have strong incentives to get relationship-building right!
Parts may confuse you (the wise, accepting Self of the system) with another part of you, so this is an opportunity to clear up that confusion. A common way to do this is to ask the part how old it thinks you are. Then you can update it with your current age and life situation, emphasizing how you have more agency and resources now than you did as a child.
Even when a part knows you who you are, it may not know much about what you’re like if you’ve been very parts-driven in the past. You may need to let the part ask you questions or just observe you over time in order to let it discover that you’re a wonderful, trustworthy presence. Starting a meditation practice can give you time in Self each day. I like to do a simple meditation where I observe my parts and accept them as they are. This is easier for me than trying to focus on a single thing, like my breath, and I believe it builds these relationships.
Even when the part gets that you’re trustworthy, it may not believe that you will show up consistently. What good is an awesome friend if they always flake on you? So some parts will need to see you unblend from other parts consistently in order to trust you. This may point to the need to help those other parts first. When they are less burdened, they will be more capable of allowing your Self to take the lead.
You may also be blended with an agenda-driven part that wants to do parts work correctly and quickly. This can make it hard for parts to trust that you care about them and their concerns. It’s kind of like talking to a salesperson who cares more about making a sale than finding out if the product is really what you want. So if you get stuck on a lack of trust, check for an agenda-driven part.
Get to know the part
You can ask the part what role it plays in your life, how long it’s been doing that role, how old it is, and if it wants anything from you. It’s not a problem if a part doesn’t or can’t answer some of these questions. As you get answers, look for the part’s good intention in doing its role (however destructive the role may turn out to be). Whenever you can do so genuinely, validate and/or thank the part. Then notice how the part responds to that. (The two-way connection continues!)
Motivations for change
Parts may not be altogether in favor of change, but you can often find some way that they would be happier if healthy change occurred. To find this nugget of motivation, you can ask the part if it’s tired of its current job, if it gets a lot of flack for doing this job (from other parts of you, or other people), and what it would prefer to do if it weren’t compelled to do this job.
When the part trusts you and its appetite for change has been awakened, you can move on to the next step, which I’ll cover in the next post!
Photo by Renate Vanaga