Now that you’ve built a relationship with a part of you and learned what would make things easier on that part, you can find out if it’s ready for you to go ahead and facilitate that change. Throughout the rest of the process, parts may pop up at any time with something to express (verbally or otherwise).
Our first goal is to distinguish between information and concerns.
Sometimes parts just want to be heard:
“This will never work!”
“I really hated when that happened!”
and even “Remember to take out the trash later tonight!”
And that’s totally fine. The only action needed in these cases is to hear them and let them know you did. When parts of you feel heard, they tend to relax.
Other times, parts have concerns about moving forward with the process. Concerns can sound like:
“If you think about that issue, you’ll be overwhelmed with sadness. It’ll never stop!”
“If you work on your need to people please, you’ll stop being nice, even when it’s called for!”
and “If you make my job unnecessary, I won’t exist anymore!”
A beautiful thing about parts work is that instead of viewing these kinds of concerns as troublesome obstacles to progress, we view them as an important step in the process. Each of them can be addressed, and when they are addressed, parts can give their consent to moving forward. This consent-building process is validating and respectful, and makes the process safer, because parts aren’t protesting it.
A better world is possible
Classes in IFS like IFSCA’s Stepping Stones go into detail about how to address each kind of concern that parts are likely to give, but the basic idea is to validate the gravity of the concern while letting the part know that there are more possibilities in life than it realized. Parts tend to “dream small” about change in the inner world, assuming that deep change isn’t possible and building strategies around what they’ve always known. I suspect that this is an aspect of their brilliance, actually; parts are masters at coping with an unchangeable situation. A crucial role of the Self in the IFS process is not to decide what should happen, but simply to let parts know what can happen, and let them choose. It is often a shock to parts that so many things are possible:
- pain can be witnessed without taking over
- unburdened parts don’t lose skills, they only gain the freedom to choose when to use their skills
- parts can keep their jobs, choose new jobs, or retire, all without disappearing or losing their value
And so, the step of addressing concerns serves not only to create respect and safety by getting consent, but also to instill hope. We may ask parts if they’d like to try something new, after all this time of using a certain strategy and getting unsatisfying results.
An ongoing process
Parts can come up at any time throughout the rest of the process with information or concerns to share, and it’s always welcome. We try to hear them all out at this stage before we move onto the delicate process of witnessing and unburdening exiled parts. But it’s not a cause for concern if more comes up later. In fact, I often invite protective parts to watch the rest of the process and jump in if anything worries them. This often makes parts feel respected and at ease.
When parts’ concerns have been addressed and they’re feeling open to trying something new, we can move onto the next step: witnessing the pain of parts that are burdened with negative beliefs. Make sure to subscribe for updates to catch the rest of the parts work process!