Working with Parts
“don't assume your inner critic is what you think it is... it's a part of you trying to protect you somehow and if you can think of it in that way, it isn't going to have the same level of power over you"
Working with our Parts
As a Transpersonal Coach I work with the idea that we have many different parts, and usually these parts are in conflict or need integrating for deeper healing to take place. I have drawn on the theory of Internal Family Systems and Psychosysnthesis in my coaching practise.
Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed in the early 1990s by Richard Schwartz, is an evidence-based model used for personal healing and transformation. It is based on the assumption that we have many different parts – what can also be known as subpersonalities - this is a normal and natural part of being human!
We also have a core Self which consists of innate qualities, such as compassion, care and connection. Our Core Self is already healed and whole; however, throughout the course of our life, parts become wounded and split off from the Self. Our healing journey is all about getting to know these parts, integrating and welcoming them back into ourselves.
According to Richard Schwartz, who developed the IFS model, we have parts that are protectors – either managers or firefighters who act to keep the exiles (wounded parts) of ourselves safe and protected. There is no such thing as a bad part, and we're not trying to get rid of any of these parts. Yet, some parts may have learnt to function in dysfunction or extreme ways to keep us safe.
When we work with these parts we can begin to understand why they're here, what their purpose is, and learn how they can support us in a way that feels supportive of our healthy growth and development. The goal is to work with the intentions, behaviours and beliefs of these parts so they can find an alternative, less extreme way of doing their job. There are other parts which we have pushed into 'exile' and these are usually wounded younger parts such as the inner child.
Sub-personalities are another way to define the 'parts' of ourselves or roles that we play in different circumstances. William James called our sub-personalities “the various selves.” You can think of subpersonalities as the various planets which orbit around the sun - the sun being our Core Self or Self Energy. Without awareness of our subpersonalities then can end up 'hijacking' us and our system - this is why it is so important to identify our various parts and sub-personalities. This is something we work together with in our coaching practise.
Working with the Inner Child
Often coaching is described as a future-orientated practice, with focuses on one's goals and potential. It is usually differentiated from therapy or counseling because it doesn't attempt to engage with past traumatic events which often stem from one's childhood.
However, it's my experience as a coach, that we cannot engage in healing or reaching our full potential unless we engage with the parts of ourselves that are often stuck in the past because of wounding or trauma from earlier life. Our inner child stays with us as we grow into adults so it's crucial we develop awareness and a relationship with this part of ourselves if we are looking to heal and work towards living in alignment with our authentic selves.
Inner child work doesn't mean digging up or ruminating on past events, but it's about exploring what that part of us needs - even as adults. When we come into relationship with this part of ourselves we can begin to shed limiting beliefs or emotions that might be holding us back or stopping us from coming into alignment with our truth.
Through specific coaching techniques and guided processes, we engage with our younger self, bring healing to the present, and go to the future to explore the potential of having integrated or engaged in healing our inner child.