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What You Need to Know About the Family in Your Mind
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.: Tue, Sep 14th 2010
We all grow up in families, some feeling more cohesive while others feel more disjointed. What if I were to tell you that inside your mind there was another family at play with each part of the family wanting to play a valuable role in the life of YOU. Branches of therapy that embrace this approach are Psychosynthesis and Internal Family Systems which are worth exploring.
Jay Earley, PhD has recently come out with Self-Therapy and the late John Firman and Ann Gila wrote Psychosynthesis.
What I like about these approaches is that they assume that all parts of us are working in service of health and well-being. However, stress in the system can cause them to become disjointed like our real families and in doing this; they aren’t privy to the agendas of the others.
So what can happen?
When some internal family members go rogue and will become heavily judgmental because they feel like that will push us into action to act a certain way that leads to acceptance. Or perhaps the judgment allows us to stay away from entertaining certain actions because there is fear there and the part wants to keep us safe from the fear.
We all know that in our own families or perhaps teams at work there are many competing agendas and the system is humming when everyone is aware of what is truly most important and are acting in service of this larger aspiration.
However, when people aren’t communicating this is difficult to do. Well, I’ll argue that when we aren’t grounded and centered in life and connected to our core Self (IFS) or Authentic Unifying Center (Psychosynthesis) or to what is most important to us, all those parts in our internal family aren’t on the same page it’s more likely for them to go rogue.
The cornerstone of self-acceptance is understanding and love. The wonderful thing about these approaches is they promote a compassionate understanding our selves. Instead of hating certain parts of our selves we can now see where the part is coming from (understanding) and see how that part is stressed, care about it and gently redirect it (loving).
This becomes a practice toward self-acceptance.
So when you find yourself reacting in certain ways, see if you can notice what your action is in service of. Is it trying to keep you safe or away from being vulnerable? Where are those vulnerable parts and what do they have to say? If the feelings are flooding is there a part coming to the rescue to clean up the mess?
Two approaches truly worth considering.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Your article - Demi Ch - Sep 14th 2010
I loved your article and found it really interesting. I focused mainly on the paragraph in which you mention judgemental behaviour between family members . Being judgemental is sometimes so hard to avoid, you know it is not the right way to alter the other persons' behaviour , but it is somehow your spontaneous reaction most of the times. You do not wish to harm your relative or they do not wish to harm you)but it is as if you expect them to be the child/mother/father/brother/sister etc you believe should be or maybe you need them to be. Being judgemental probably works the other way round , leading to anger, frustration, low self-esteem etc. We need to accept and feel accepted , but do not always spend the time or do not know a different approach and communication fails.Thank you .