Have you ever found yourself doing things that are harmful, and yet you keep doing them? No matter how hard you struggle, there are parts of you that keep acting in a certain way; for example, your anger gets the better of you, or you get drunk yet again, or you cheat on your partner, or you spend weeks working late when you don't really need to.
You know the logic: This behaviour is going to cause you problems. Ordinarily, you would not choose to do this. And yet a part of you continues to act in this way.
The part of you that continues this behaviour is like an errant family member. You wish they would stop disrupting family gatherings, but they continue to do so. And yet, you have to continue to live together as one big family.
One solution is to try and understand why this family member acts in such a way. The same can be said of the part of you that keeps exploding in anger, getting drunk, or doing other things that you don't want to do. If we dig a little deeper, we will probably find a reason for this behaviour. If we adopt this more understanding approach, we might be able to win over this errant part of us, as we might try to win over the errant family member. For example, we might come to understand that this part of us overeats because it soothes us when we are anxious. Or we might come to understand that the part of us that gets drunk is trying to numb the pain that we fear might overwhelm us.
When we adopt a more compassionate approach, we see that these parts might have actually been trying to protect us. And when we approach these parts in a compassionate manner, they might see that it is now not effective to continue behaving in this way. In fact, we might be causing more harm to continue in this way.
This is an approach to psychotherapy called Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS), and an IFS therapist will help you to communicate with these protective parts. The therapist will help you to get the parts to relax so that they can work out a more helpful way to respond to problems. The most effective way to do this is to access what is called the Self; a compassionate, calmer and confident version of you. The Self comprises eight elements -
When you let the Self lead the way, you develop a calm, compassionate way of viewing your life. In time, you find that you can heal yourself, and ultimately make smarter choices.
If you would like to find out more about how psychotherapy can help with your life choices, get in touch. Book your free initial telephone call online today.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC