A Brief Meditation to Introduce IFS

by | Mindfulness & Meditations

Let’s hop right into this one:

A Very Brief IFS Meditation:

  • Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths.
  • Now turn your attention internally, and notice any thoughts, feelings, physical sensations.  See if there is one in particular that is a little louder, stronger, or more prominent than the others.  Allow yourself to get curious about it.  What is holding for you?  What does it want to share with you?  Is it new or is it familiar?
  • Do you notice it’s hard to focus because other feelings or sensations come in to distract you? Get curious about what is happening inside.  Can you validate whatever you are sensing, hearing, feeling even if you don’t agree with it.?  Can you validate what is coming up, and then notice how it responds to the validation.
  • Can you send compassion toward whatever is going on inside. Notice how it responds to that.
  • Now allow yourself to be a little bit more open and a little bit more curious. Notice the response with that.  Maybe you can set an intention to get to know more about what is showing up.  Notice the response with your willingness to be more curious about it.
  • Can you send gratitude for whatever is going on inside and notice how it responds?
  • Notice your energy inside now compared to when you started this meditation and when that feels complete, shift your attention back to the room.

IFS Concept

Have you ever thought, “part of me wants this and another part of me wants that”?  What would you think if I told you that you are made up of a multitude of parts and your conflicting wants, needs, feelings are all components of an internal system.  Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a modality of psychotherapy and is a transformative approach that delves into the intricate dynamics of the mind, identifying and harmonizing various inner parts to facilitate healing and self-discovery.  There might be a part of you that can become pretty angry but you are not an angry person as a whole.  Or a part of you who wants to reach out to someone and another part of you does not.  By viewing ourselves in terms of parts of a whole, we are better able to identify and manage each of our parts and therefore heal them one by one as well.

In this article we’ll unravel the profound benefits of IFS, shedding light on how this therapeutic model fosters inner harmony and emotional well-being.  This modality is especially helpful when healing Complex PTSD as it re-parents the inner child.  Our wounds stem from needs not being met in our early childhood.  Not having validation, compassion, problem solve, coping, and an interest in who we were at the time and our contribution to the family unit, all will lead to wounds that manifest into larger issues during adulthood.  Learning to identify some of those times in our lives as children, and offer ourselves the soothing and reassurance we needed allows us to begin healing those wounds.  The reassurance now is in our own ability due to our experiences, education, adult understanding, and capabilities that we can handle whatever comes our way, and the tendency to revert to old childhood uncertainty is therefore unnecessary.  If someone approaches you to discuss an uncomfortable topic, and you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to talk about it”, crossing your arms, cocking your head, the five year old in you is coming out trying to handle the situation.  As adults, we definitely don’t want children including our internal child, managing adult issues such as employment, relationships, and finances.  That’s where healing benefits us.

Understanding Internal Family Systems

IFS, developed by Richard Schwartz, views the mind as a complex system comprising distinct parts or subpersonalities. These parts can carry different emotions, beliefs, and behaviors, influencing our thoughts and actions.

Healing Through Self-Exploration

  • Integration and Harmony: IFS focuses on recognizing, acknowledging, and integrating these parts to achieve internal harmony.
  • Self-Leadership: The goal is to nurture self-leadership, empowering individuals to lead from their compassionate and centered self, often termed the “Self.”

The Core Principles of IFS

  • Self-Healing Capacity: IFS believes that everyone holds the capacity for self-healing and inner wisdom.
  • Self at Our Core:  IFS is based on the premise that at our core, we are compassionate, calm, curious, confident, courageous, creative, and need to be connected to others and have clarity.  The idea is, if you are feeling something other than these baseline emotions, you are in a wound.
  • Parts as Protectors: Each part has a protective role, often developed in response to past experiences.  Instead of saying Jane is an angry person, we would say there is a part of Jane that becomes angry.  We would then delve into what feeling or emotion that the anger is protecting Jane from and trace it back to a wound.
  • Wounds:  IFS encourages reparenting of our inner child and anything triggered after about the age of eight is a protector part and not a wound.  IFS allows for the healing of hurts by offering that wound validation, compassion, and whatever the wound needs to heal, or whatever the person had needed to hear or receive at the time of the hurt.

Benefits of Internal Family Systems

  • Emotional Regulation: IFS equips individuals with tools to regulate emotions effectively by understanding and addressing parts’ needs.
  • Trauma Healing: It aids in healing trauma by safely exploring and transforming traumatic experiences held within parts.
  • Improved Relationships: Understanding inner parts fosters empathy and enhances communication, leading to healthier relationships.
  • Enhanced Self-Compassion: IFS cultivates self-compassion by acknowledging and embracing all parts without judgment.
  • Increased Self-Awareness: It promotes self-awareness by helping individuals understand their triggers, patterns, and responses.
  • Reparenting our Inner Child:  Identifying a wound and offering it what it needed at that moment allows us to nurture ourselves in a way that is cathartic.  As we grow up, we are also watching our parents and caretakers grow up, and at times they might have fell short of the mark on what was needed for us to cope and adequately problem solve, build resilience, and foster our self-esteem.

The Process of IFS Therapy

  • Internal Exploration: Through guided therapy sessions, individuals explore their internal landscape, identifying and understanding various parts.
  • Dialogue and Integration: Facilitated by the therapist, individuals engage in dialogues between parts, aiming for mutual understanding and integration.
  • Empowerment: IFS empowers individuals to become their own healers, fostering a sense of agency and self-reliance.

Conclusion: Embracing Inner Wholeness with IFS

Internal Family Systems therapy offers a transformative journey towards self-discovery, healing, and integration. By embracing the intricate web of our inner parts with compassion and understanding, we unlock the path to inner wholeness, emotional well-being, and empowered self-leadership.

You can find a professional psychotherapist who specializes in IFS to help you navigate healing.  Many times, this modality is used in combination with other modalities such as CBT or EMDR.  If this resonates with you, I want to encourage you to further explore what came up in the meditation and consider if IFS would be a path to nurture your own self-discovery and healing; consider how this approach might help on your journey toward healing, self-development, and cultivating inner harmony and peace.

To find additional resources for healing, you might consider:

Doing The Things That Will Make Your Life Better | Better Life Inc

12 Weeks of Creating the Life You Want | Better Life Inc

Therapeutic Journaling | Better Life Inc

Warm regards on your journey to discovering your best self,