A Path to Inner Unity
Internal Family Systems, also known as Parts Work, is a notably effective approach for dealing with addiction and trauma, that’s why Villa Kali Ma has embraced it to help women recover.
The overall effect of Parts Work is to unify our insides, so that all the various sides of us feel welcomed and loved. This state of inner self-reunion causes the need for addiction as a pain-modulator to go away.
Psyche is our aliveness, what inside of us feels, wants and imagines. Our psyche gives life flavor, depth, intensity, and is what makes life worth living.
To psychologists, psyche is transcendent – it infuses absolutely everything in this world, not only our insides but also what we experience “out there”. Everything within us is mirrored outside of us, and everything outside of us also reflects and corresponds to something inside.
The Broken Teapot
If you imagine that in our original nature we were once whole, all unified and aware of that, then we can see that psyche has been shattered or fragmented, much like a teapot that fell to the ground. We want to gather up all the pieces, and not throw any of them away, because we need everything for putting psyche back together again.
In Parts Work all sides of psyche, inside or outside of us, are recognized and included as family members. Loved for who they are, embraced, listened to, valued and honored as important.
Dignity is granted to Parts who have lived long in the shadows, those aspects of our nature that have been devalued by ourselves and others. There is, therefore, a huge work of redeeming, reclaiming, recognizing, retrieving, and repairing.
Understanding Shadow Pieces
Parts Work assumes that each Part has good intentions, and that even the worst of our bad behavior makes sense when seen with compassion and understanding for what that lonely fragment of psyche is trying to do.
If a Part is doing something that we find strange or extreme, then we must look to what it is that piece of psyche is trying to accomplish, as well as what exactly it has to work around.
If we look with compassion and a readiness to validate the legitimacy of the barriers, that there must be a restriction or a blockage or an entanglement or entrapment going on, if psyche is not healthy or balanced, and we intend to help unblock psyche’s path, much can be accomplished as we assist psyche to succeed.
Broken and Whole at the Same Time
One thing that people sometimes wonder, is whether the brokenness of psyche is good or bad. It is certainly painful, especially when Parts are severely disconnected inside and outside of us.
But our individuation is also what gives rise to the diversity of our perspectives, so it is very enriching for psyche, too. Even though the eventual goal is reunification, we should not think of the brokenness as only bad.
Just as when you close your eyes to listen to music, restrictions can be enriching. They often lead to greater creativity in our responses.
Psyche will grow and develop based on these many different points of view, and undergo many transformations. She will synthesize her experiences, and then forge new points of view based on that synthesis. For all of these curiosities, being separated is temporarily helpful.
We are both broken and whole at the same time. Rather than trying to sidestep the existential fact of psyche’s brokenness, we can learn to be both the differentiated droplet and the ocean water too.
Journal Prompt: Give Parts A Voice
One thing we know for sure is that each Part has a story to tell. Each Part longs, like any other human, to be recognized, loved, known, and acknowledged for their hard work. They will welcome any attention and time we can give them.
Next time you’re aware of a Part, of yourself, another person, or your world, ask it to tell you its story. If you’re willing to listen curiously and compassionately, it will have a lot to say!
Hi dear Part, I see you and I am curious about you. I wonder if you would like to tell me about yourself?
Suggestions for Parts to dialogue with:
-A Part of nature, such as Rain
-A Part of your personal psyche, such as Your Creativity
-A little object in your world that you like, such as Half-Eroded Seashell I Found
May your explorations be satisfying!