Author: adminner


The courageous Heart…

Christmas is often a hard time for many of us – travelling to see family we often come a cropper. People have lost faith in any deep truth – maybe many of us are seduced by the postmodern story that it is all just different stories – alt-truth.  
Having been through my own deep trials, I can echo what the Buddha saw – beautifully articulated here by my teacher Almaas:
‘Giving in to Your Heart, Your Nature
Originally, to start with, human beings create all these mind relationships, these mental relationships, these splittings in relationships, to protect the love, to protect the heart from hurt. That protection comes from ignorance. We do not know that our heart is indestructible. The heart cannot be destroyed. Your heart is more permanent than your body. Even when you feel hurt, it is not ultimately your heart that is hurt. what is hurt are your identifications, your self-image, your pride. So to continue loving regardless of what happens is not giving in to the other person; it is giving in to your heart, to your nature. Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to feel loving, and to be loving, and to act loving. This is because we think that loving means we are going to be weak, or that we are going to be taken advantage of, or exploited, or that we are being stupid, or that we are going to lose something. The fact is that the moment you close your heart, you are the one who loses. If you give in to your heart, it does not mean that you are giving in to the other person. It does not mean you are giving in to negativity. You are giving in to your nature. You are surrendering to who you are. To be always loving does not mean that you do not defend yourself. The courageous heart perceives and acknowledges what is there—good or bad. It does not pretend that there is no negativity. It perceives the negativity and deals with it with love. So to continue to be loving does not mean that you are weak. It does not mean that you are going to be dominated by someone. In fact, to have a courageous heart means you are able to be inwardly alone and independent. There is no true autonomy without a courageous heart. And there is no courageous heart without true autonomy.’
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 201  •


The real ‘me’….and how our society sabotages it

I am struck by the way the Mind is usually looking through a kind of telescope of ideas which feels like ‘me’ – and because the ‘me’ has set itself up against the rest of Life it feels afraid , alone and on the run. Healing seems to me to be an involuntary surrender – whether this is through sex, laughter, or insight which comes when we see through the ways in which our own ideas reify Life. Unfortunately – tragically – we seem to be in the grip of a collective mania where we increasingly feel alone and on the run, and believe it is our fault….The following article comes from George Monbiot in the Guardian on the 5th august 2014.
Deviant and Proud
5th August 2014
Do you feel left out? Perhaps it’s because you refuse to succumb to the competition, envy and fear neoliberalism breeds
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 6th August 2014
To be at peace with a troubled world: this is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration. This column is for those who feel at odds with life. It calls on you not to be ashamed.
I was prompted to write it by a remarkable book, just published in English, by a Belgian professor of psychoanalysis, Paul Verhaeghe(1). What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society is one of those books that, by making connections between apparently distinct phenomena, permits sudden new insights into what is happening to us and why.
We are social animals, Verhaeghe argues, and our identity is shaped by the norms and values we absorb from other people. Every society defines and shapes its own normality – and its own abnormality – according to dominant narratives, and seeks either to make people comply or to exclude them if they don’t.
Today the dominant narrative is that of market fundamentalism, widely known in Europe as neoliberalism. The story it tells is that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. The less the state regulates and taxes us, the better off we will be. Public services should be privatised, public spending should be cut and business should be freed from social control. In countries such as the UK and the US, this story has shaped our norms and values for around 35 years: since Thatcher and Reagan came to power(2). It’s rapidly colonising the rest of the world.
Verhaeghe points out that neoliberalism draws on the ancient Greek idea that our ethics are innate (and governed by a state of nature it calls the market) and on the Christian idea that humankind is inherently selfish and acquisitive. Rather than seeking to suppress these characteristics, neoliberalism celebrates them: it claims that unrestricted competition, driven by self-interest, leads to innovation and economic growth, enhancing the welfare of all.
At the heart of this story is the notion of merit. Untrammelled competition rewards people who have talent, who work hard and who innovate. It breaks down hierarchies and creates a world of opportunity and mobility. The reality is rather different. Even at the beginning of the process, when markets are first deregulated, we do not start with equal opportunities. Some people are a long way down the track before the starting gun is fired. This is how the Russian oligarchs managed to acquire such wealth when the Soviet Union broke up. They weren’t, on the whole, the most talented, hard-working or innovative people, but those with the fewest scruples, the most thugs and the best contacts, often in the KGB.
Even when outcomes are based on talent and hard work, they don’t stay that way for long. Once the first generation of liberated entrepreneurs has made its money, the initial meritocracy is replaced by a new elite, which insulates its children from competition by inheritance and the best education money can buy. Where market fundamentalism has been most fiercely applied – in countries like the US and UK – social mobility has greatly declined(3).
If neoliberalism were anything other than a self-serving con, whose gurus and think tanks were financed from the beginning by some of the richest people on earth (the American tycoons Coors, Olin, Scaife, Pew and others)(4), its apostles would have demanded, as a precondition for a society based on merit, that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically-determined education. But they never believed in their own doctrine. Enterprise, as a result, quickly gave way to rent.
All this is ignored, and success or failure in the market economy are ascribed solely to the efforts of the individual. The rich are the new righteous, the poor are the new deviants, who have failed both economically and morally, and are now classified as social parasites.
The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness. The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafka-esque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation and loyalty and breeds frustration, envy and fear. Through a magnificent paradox, it has led to the revival of a grand old Soviet tradition, known in Russian as tufta. It means the falsification of statistics to meet the diktats of unaccountable power.
The same forces afflict those who can’t find work. They must now contend, alongside the other humiliations of unemployment, with a whole new level of snooping and monitoring. All this, Verhaeghe points out, is fundamental to the neoliberal model, which everywhere insists on comparison, evaluation and quantification. We find ourselves technically free but powerless. Whether in work or out of work, we must live by the same rules or perish. All the major political parties promote them, so we have no political power either. In the name of autonomy and freedom we have ended up controlled by a grinding, faceless bureaucracy.
These shifts have been accompanied, Verhaeghe writes, by a spectacular rise in certain psychiatric conditions: self-harm, eating disorders, depression and personality disorders. Of the personality disorders, the most common are performance anxiety and social phobia; both of which reflect a fear of other people, who are perceived as both evaluators and competitors, the only roles for society that market fundamentalism admits. Depression and loneliness plague us. The infantilising diktats of the workplace destroy our self-respect. Those who end up at the bottom of the pile are assailed by guilt and shame. The self-attribution fallacy cuts both ways(5): just as we congratulate ourselves for our successes,we blame ourselves for our failures, even if we had little to do with it.
So if you don’t fit in; if you feel at odds with the world; if your identity is troubled and frayed; if you feel lost and ashamed, it could be because you have retained the human values you were supposed to have discarded. You are a deviant. Be proud.
1. Paul Verhaeghe, 2014. What About Me?: The struggle for identity in a market-based society. Scribe. Brunswick, Australia and London.


‘Psychology Today’ endorses the IFS model – on recovering your integrity

How and Why You Compromise Your Integrity
Internal Family Systems Therapy can free you from self-sabotaging defenses. 
Posted Jul 19, 2017 
Perhaps the most important thing you possess is your integrity. It’s your word of honor—what makes you honorable. Yet at one time or another, you’ve certainly violated this trustworthy, most “sacred” part of yourself. Why? Whether to yourself or others, what is it that, from deep within, compels you to go back on your word?
The present post will seek to clarify this all-too-common situation. Plus, it will suggest why you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself when this “self-violation” occurs (as in, “What part of me impelled me to do that? Was that really ME?!”). For ideally, such a lapse shouldn’t lead to self-shaming or contempt. Rather, it should signal that it’s time to mobilize your self-compassion.
·       So, to start, have you ever considered that the word integrity intimately relates to the kindred integration? Because if the different parts of yourself—each harboring a voice and agenda of its own—aren’t well-integrated, it may be impossible (across a large variety of situations) to keep your integrity intact.
·       To best understand how your integrity relates to your level of integration, consider how portrays the word: (a) “Adherence to moral and ethical principles . . .” and (b) “The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.” Note how this second definition, contrasting with yet complementing the first, implies that to be virtuous, honest, and have moral rectitude, you need to be “whole,” which is to say, unified—or, to employ my preferred term, integrated.
·       Moreover, “whole” implies that the various parts that comprise something are balanced and relate to each other concordantly. Viewed in human terms, personal integrity depends, simply enough, on the individual’s being integrated. And the dictionary’s extended definition of that concept amply supports this contention, emphasizing that “combining or coordinating separate elements . . . provide[s] a harmonious, interrelated whole.”
·       I’ll provide an example to explain why, if you’re to be true to yourself and others, you need to get your different parts to collaborate, to work in unison. But first I’d like briefly to say something about Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS).
·       This highly regarded treatment modality, created by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., in the 80s and increasingly prominent in the therapy world today, posits that, as in families, all individuals are made up of parts. When these parts conflict with one another or are extreme, they’re functioning either to protect the individual from re-experiencing intolerable emotional pain (as Schwartz’s so-called pre-emptive “managers”)—or, if that pain has already been aroused, to “put it out” (Schwartz’s reactive “firefighters”).
·       Sadly, the consequence of all these self-protective parts’ efforts to escape one’s (unrectified) emotional suffering is frequently some form of psychological dysfunction: from mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, to eating abnormalities, topsychophysiological disturbances, to all kinds of compulsive/addictive behaviors.
·       It’s like having an orchestra inside you, whose members aren’t playing as a cohesive, coordinated unit. The effect is hardly anything like melodic music. What’s produced is a bumbling, incoherent cacophony. For the conductor, or orchestra’s “leader”—which Schwartz defines, transcendently and idealistically, as the beyond-ego Self—is absent, missing in action. Continuing with this metaphor, the goal of therapy is to locate the conductor’s whereabouts and free him or her from the various instrumentalists, who have taken over their maestro’s responsibility, so that the whole ensemble can finally make the harmonious music for which it was designed.
Moving beyond this metaphorical description, as regards which other parts the managers and firefighters are protecting against, these are what Schwartz calls the “exiles”—your most vulnerable, deeply wounded parts that have yet to be healed and which both the managers and firefighters have resolved to keep buried.
Why, exactly? Mainly, for fear that the emergence of these exiles could overwhelm the system, with such out-of-control, traumatic feelings as guilt, shame, panic, terror, rage or despair. And just as only the empowering Self can synchronize all one’s internal voices, it’s the Self alone that—once disentangled from the person’s maladaptive, though well-meaning, parts—can both heal the exiles and transform the managers’ and firefighters’ burdensome, misguided, and outdated roles.
Here’s an example (admittedly, somewhat extreme) of how an individual’s protective, non-integrated, parts can make it virtually impossible for a person to uphold their personal integrity:
Say, you were brought up in a home with an alcoholic father who, when inebriated, would routinely rage, throw things, and frighten the entire family; and a codependent mother, totally preoccupied and obsessed with your father’s hazardous drinking. In such a family, neither parent could possibly be there for you—to adequately respond to your thoughts and feelings, needs and desires. Growing up in such conditions might have affected you in various ways—none of them conducive to feeling safe, loved, or secure.
In all likelihood, you would have ended up with many adverse feelings and thoughts about yourself, such as being:
unimportant (because of not feeling recognized; given enough time and attention);
inadequate (because of being frequently criticized);
lonely (because of not feeling understood, or sufficiently bonded to your parents);
powerless (because, however negatively you viewed the situation, you could do nothing to change it);
in danger or unsafe (because your father’s angry flare-ups were unpredictable and your resulting anxiety was simply a way of trying to “prepare” yourself for them);
shameful (because, after all, you “belonged” to this alcoholic family);
worthless (because of feeling ignored; not feeling appreciated or valued);
uncared about (because you couldn’t experience your parents’ being devoted to you); and lastly, if you thought all of the above was grossly unfair to you,
strong, deep-seated (but much-too-dangerous-to-express) distrust and anger.
So, what does all of this have to do with your integrity? Consider that as children none of us can emotionally survive if we’re constantly focused on one (or more) of these so-stressful feeling/belief states. Consequently (and almost instinctively), different parts of our personality change, or adapt, to such ongoing abuse and neglect by taking on various protective roles. Inasmuch as when you’re young, your emotional resources, or resilience, isn’t well developed, you’re left feeling acutely vulnerable, particularly since you can’t help but remain so dependent on your caretakers.
Accordingly, your defenses against emotional pain and suffering need to be as strong as is the hurt you urgently need to escape from. And basically, it’s your defenses, or adapted parts, that end up holding your essence—or Self—captive (which, in turn, was overcome when your vulnerable parts [now exiles], in desperation, “merged” with it).
Obviously, your integrity, your “wholeness,” can come only from your integrated Self. And that Self must harmoniously incorporate—not be sabotaged by—its different parts. Being “centered” in the Self necessitates that all your various parts be led by the Self. As the seat of your consciousness, this very essence of you also constitutes your moral and ethical core.
And it should be added that, to Schwartz, your Self—once revived—naturally displays the qualities of “calmness, curiosity, compassion, connectedness, confidence, creativity, courage, and clarity” (Schwartz’s “8C’s” of Self). And does this amalgam of positive personality characteristics not coalesce to form one’s integrity?
Additionally, your various parts—to supply you with yet another extended list of adjectives (!)—are by nature innocent, spontaneous, humorous, joyful, adventurous, fair-minded, understanding, forgiving, empathic, grateful and loving. But if their natural roles got subverted by an overwhelming need to protect your far more sensitive, scared, or shamed parts, these positive qualities got contaminated (or desecrated). Because of disturbing experiences (generally in your youth), these parts felt forced to take on distorted, constricting roles—which also pretty much detracted from and devalued the healthy dominance, or leadership, of the Self.
That compromised Self, with all its lucidity and wisdom, became “managed” almost out of existence. So you may no longer be at liberty to consistently manifest who you were meant to be. For your Self has in various ways been cast aside by your protectors, and so unable to function fully. In fact, when many people are asked to identify their true Self (i.e., apart from their specific beliefs and behaviors), they frequently draw a blank, sometimes not even sure that they have such a Self (!).
So though the abuse you may have suffered was probably never intended—that is, your caretakers weren’t actually motivated to act harmfully toward you or interfere with your wholesome development—you yet felt compelled to hide aspects of who you were to better “fit in” with them.
Being true to yourself requires that your Self be “whole”—integrated, and with executive control over your subordinate parts (or sub-personalities). But when these parts become extreme and frozen in time, any of your exiled parts threatening to surface propel them into action to take over control of your thoughts and actions. And that’s what, periodically, sabotages your personal integrity. For at this point you can’t come from Self, but only from protective parts that (never really having grown up themselves) still feel compelled to react, supposedly to safeguard your “inner child’s” fragility.
In fact, as adults, all your overreactions (and we can all overreact at times) are so because you’re not merely reacting to some in-the-moment provocation but also to much older threats the present situation is reminding you of—and which still carry significant emotional charge. This is, after all, what it means to be “triggered.” In such instances, your best judgment—which belongs to your non-reactive Self (vs. your highly reactive parts)—isn’t available. For when these parts intercede, your emotional equilibrium is undermined . . . as is your integrity.
Can you relate to this expression (taken from Richard Schwartz’s Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model, 2001): “I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t stop myself.” ? For such a bemused, disappointed declaration encapsulates everything I’ve been discussing.
Here are two instances of your violating your integrity because your still juvenile protective parts—which assume they’re acting in your best interests—actually act counter to it:
You’re about to embark on an important home project, which you promised yourself and your family you’d undertake. But then old fears of failure, associated with parental shaming and rejection, kick in. At which point one of your protective parts intervenes and compels you to procrastinate, make excuses for yourself, avoid committing yourself to it. Such an “intervention” prevents the particular exile involved from having to reexperience any quivering anxiety or trepidation. But it ends up with your feeling that much worse about yourself and sacrificing more of your family’s trust.
Your partner offers you a practical suggestion about something you’re working on and you suddenly go ballistic on her, telling her to mind her own business, that she’s always trying to control you, and then harshly criticizing her for whatever you can think of. What’s happening here is that her (innocent) suggestion, however obliquely, reminded you of how your parent(s) regularly got on your case whenever you made a mistake, making you feel you weren’t good enough, that you were defective; unlovable. So your externalizing old feelings of inadequacy or unacceptability (i.e., unreasonably projecting them onto her) protects a scorned exile part from feeling its original humiliation and sense of worthlessness.
Moreover, your present-day explosion can be seen as “acting out” whatever ancient, undischarged rage you once harbored toward your parents by redirecting it toward your partner. But afterwards, you may regretfully realize how much you’ve hurt your spouse, how much additional distance you’ve now put between the two of you, and how exaggerated your reaction was in the first place. And you probably won’t even understand why in the moment you acted so “out of character” and couldn’t help but go nuclear on her. Here again, one of your protective parts has taken over, seeking to spare you from intolerable emotions just beginning to emerge from an exile—but with considerable collateral damage.
I could provide numerous other examples, especially as relates to intimacy barriers and to various compulsive/addictive behaviors—almost all of which have immediate analgesic, consciousness-altering effects. But by now you can probably grasp how your intrusive, no-longer-appropriate “protectors” interfere with both your personal, and interpersonal, welfare.
For these are the times when your defensive emotions and impulses supersede, or overrule, your Self. And that’s when your thoughts and actions betray your integrity. For these bothersome intruders do not express your true Self—the literal “home” of your integrity—but represent ill-considered behaviors that make very little logical sense. All the same, they do make a great deal of psychological sense once you can identify what these avoidant, escapist, or aggressive parts of you are trying to protect against (namely, the resurgence of old, still-unreleased emotional pain).
. . . Which is why your endeavoring to fully resurrect the Self, and transform its well-intentioned but misguided parts, is one of the highest, noblest endeavors you could ever undertake.
So—are you up for it?
Two earlier posts of mine in Psychology Today closely complement this piece. They are “The Paradoxical Rationale for Self-Sabotage, Part 2” (2010) and “What Your Anger May Be Hiding” (2008).
For those of you interested in learning more about the IFS model, besides the references listed below, your search engine will direct you to an abundance of articles on the subject—as will YouTube, which will display a large assortment of videos dedicated to it.
© 2017 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
Internal Family Systems. The Center for Self Leadership. (the official website for IFS)
Murphy, B. About internal family systems therapy.
Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Schwartz, R. C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Oak Park, IL: Trailhead.
Schwartz, R. C. (2008). You are the one you’ve been waiting for: Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships. Oak Park, IL: Trailhead.
Sweezy, M. & Ziskind, E. L. eds. (2013). IFS: Internal family systems therapy: New dimensions. New York, NY: Routledge.
Sweezy, M. & Siskind, E. L., eds. (2017). IFS: Innovations and Elaborations in Internal Family Systems Therapy. New York, NY: Routledge.


IFS – covering up negative emotions doesn’t work (From Psychology Today)

An article from Psychology Today endorsing the IFS approach to healing negative emotions:
“Covering Up Negative Emotions Doesn’t Work. So What Does?
It’s crucial to grasp what your unwanted emotions protect you from. Enter IFS.
Common wisdom advises you to avoid, or try to let go of, troubling feelings. That way they won’t overwhelm your coping abilities. And these feelings include anxiety and panic, deep discouragement and hopelessness, rage, guilt and shame. It’s like being told to eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet so they won’t make you sick. On the surface, it certainly makes sense to get rid of what’s not in your best interests. For generally speaking, your better judgment isn’t available if it’s bulldozed by overwrought impulses and emotions.
However (and similar to much self-help advice), such a straightforward recommendation doesn’t, and probably can’t, explain how to put such self-defeating feelings and unruly inclinations to rest: To overthrow them in a way that, at the earliest opportunity, they won’t return—and maybe with special vengeance to punish you for trying to silence or squelch them in the first place.
·       Although, doubtless, it’s wise not to permit your feelings to dictate your behavior (see my earlier “What’s “Emotional Reasoning”—And Why Is It Such a Problem?”), vanquishing precariously inflated emotions is far easier said than done.
·       Here’s why:
·       Your emotions basically come from child parts of yourself. And this isn’t to imply that as an adult you lack feelings, but to emphasize that your present-day emotions arise from those more impulsive, and less developed parts of your personality. These more primal aspects of your being haven’t yet had the experience to recognize the possibly high costs of emotionally driven behavior. It’s only after a young child has said or done something they were impulsively motivated to do that they begin to appreciate its consequences. And unless their parents have amply warned them beforehand, they couldn’t, realistically, have predicted its results.
·       And doubtless, this fact accounts for why, on the circuitous route to adulthood, children are prone to make so many mistakes. It also explains why a child’s judgment will improve, or become more refined, with age. For the increasingly circumspect evaluation of experience is a key component of maturation.
·       Call it “experiential learning,” and it’s crucial in understanding how children get socialized. More than any formal education, your personal and interpersonal reality teaches you about the value of cooperation and compromise. Which is why, typically, as you move through various stages of growth, you become ever more rational.
·       As an adult, then, your behavior is more or less governed by logic, reason, and objectivity. Your childhood impulses and emotions are now subordinate to your rational faculties. Except, that is, when you’re beset with strong feelings and begin to engage in so-called “emotional reasoning.” This is when you’re apt to lose your (rational) way. For essentially you’ve “regressed” back to childhood. And that’s where feelings reign supreme, creating the serious threat that any decision you make will be “under the influence of”—and likely, distorted by—your now dominant feelings.
·       Seen in this adult/child context, the common recommendation is to revise (on the fly, as it were) your too-emotional inner dialogue and make it more rational—to somehow prompt your adult self to return to “executive control” of your being. And, ideally, that would seem to be the best solution.
But it’s not.
Why? Because such guidance glibly assumes that it shouldn’t be that difficult to hit an internal reset button and restart communication between your rational self and your predominantly emotional self. But all too frequently this advice simply isn’t do-able—at least not when you’re so overcome with emotion that you really can’t think straight.
·       If in the moment your emotions have already hijacked your more levelheaded self, how do you recover, and put back in charge, this adult part of your being? How can your more logical self-talk return to ascendance when your disruptive child self is beginning to reign supreme and frantically sabotaging it? Can powerful emotions—whether linked to marked anxiety, despair, or rage—be muffled purely through an act of will?
·       Consider trying to talk rationally to a three-year-old in the midst of a temper tantrum—as though even in such a highly charged feeling state that youngster might still be swayed by adult reason. In any particular situation, endeavoring to stifle powerful emotions (however irrational they may be) through such an act of determination isn’t likely to be successful. Similarly, rational self-talk—if it can be “summoned” at all—is hardly likely to quell a voice from deep within screaming that your very survival is under siege. You adult self might not believe that any such threat exists, but your child self may be equally convinced that it most certainly does.
·       To offer but one example, as the adult you are today, you may conclude, and quite rationally, that what your spouse has just requested of you is unfair. And so it’s only fitting to share your frustration with them. Yet such a course of action might make the child inside you start quivering with anxiety. For that still-living fragment within you (dormant but mobilizable) continues to be run by programming rooted in your parents’ highly punitive reactions whenever you assertively expressed negative feelings toward them. Consequently, the present-day pounding of your heart signals you to stop in your verbal tracks.
In such a regressed state, you’re emotionally convinced that being candid is too hazardous to your relationship, that (ironically) it risks compromising your all-important, though perhaps somewhat tenuous, bond with your parents. It can safely be assumed here that this scared child part of you is frozen in childhood and has never been integrated into your adult self. Which means it can’t help but regard your partner literally as a composite of your parents—and so will create in you physical symptoms of anxiety to ward off the possibility of (supposedly dangerous) self-assertion.
So, by struggling to ignore, belittle, or dismiss the “feeling viewpoint” of your inner child—vs. seeking first to empathize, understand, and validate where it’s coming from—this anachronistic part of you, however wrongheaded, will likely prevail. And may even become more intense— throwing you into an irresolvable quandary. That is, if you can’t listen compassionately to the emotional reasoning of your child self, it’s likely to sound an even louder alarm— whether that’s by turning your anxiety into panic, your discouragement into despair, or your frustration into inflamed, out-of-control rage.
·       Given that antiquated (family or environmental) programming can be so rigid—so robust—so intimately tied to your sense of emotional survival—how rational is it to think that ignoring it, or talking “reasonably” to it, could actually resolve such inner strife? Realistically, how could such hard-line rationality, or resistance, be expected to prompt these so scared or shamed parts of you to acquiesce to what is, well, more judicious?
·       After all, you’re not even listening to these early, wounded parts of you, just lecturing to them (and kids don’t like being lectured to!). Generally speaking, attempting through your self-talk to bypass your frightened, forlorn, humiliated, or infuriated child parts—to continue to abandon them (as they felt abandoned originally), and so leave them out in the cold (as “exiles”)—won’t work.
·       Remember, because of what in your past felt traumatic to these parts, they froze—and, still residing deep within you, remain frozen. So expending your mental energy not to heal them but to keep their pain numbed up through rationalizing with them, is ultimately an exercise in futility. For various challenges you face in the present will inevitably trigger, or reawaken, them. So how can you liberate them from their bondage? And, too, how can you put an end to the enduring burden of these hurt, injured, or damaged parts of you?
My previous post discussed the increasingly popular therapeutic modality of Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), the remarkable brainchild of Richard Schwartz. This compassion-based model for repairing wounded child parts is, admittedly, fairly complicated. So I’m limited in what I can suggest here regarding precisely how to implement this process for yourself. But I can definitely describe something of its essence, as well as the paramount importance—if you have unresolved disturbances from your past—of implementing this compelling protocol for self-healing.
Obviously, your task must center on finding ways to prompt these wounded child parts (Schwartz’s “exiles”) out of their hiding places, so you can begin to heal them. And that’s best done by befriending them—bearing witness to their suffering and offering them the caring, understanding, and support so sadly missing when they were roused into existence. And the You that can do this is your higher, non-reactive, non-damaged, ego-transcendent Self, which can be (re-)discovered in this restorative process. For when you’ve accessed your True Self, which emanates from your inborn creativity, compassion, and confidence, it can finally begin to interact with your wounded parts and proceed, methodically, to heal them.
But, following the IFS model, it needs to be added that other, protective or defensive, parts of you (Schwartz’s “managers” and “firefighters”) have long been operating to keep these pained and most vulnerable parts of yourself concealed— so that they won’t disrupt your day-to-day functioning by overwhelming you. And whether these parts accomplish their purpose through people-pleasing, procrastination, apathy and numbing out, flying into a rage, or one of innumerable forms of compulsive/addictive behaviors, their overriding function is to safeguard you from having to re-experience past emotional suffering.
These different parts must all be respectfully addressed and eventually induced to step aside before you’ll have full entry to your wounded exiles. However mistaken these self-protective “sub-personalities” of yours may be right now (since, obviously, you’re no longer a child, though they remain so), you yet have to recognize that they mean well and need you to understand this. For while their varied efforts to keep you emotionally safe may frequently have sabotaged you from taking advantages of many opportunities life has presented you, their misguided (though totally innocent) labors on your behalf warrant being appreciated.
And that’s why they deserve to be befriended, too, before you introduce yourself to your exiles. So, in their own voices, let them speak to you about their “appointed” roles. Only then will they be willing to retreat and let the essence of you—your calmer, more resourceful, compassionate Self—take over for them and begin not merely to protect but to heal your long-suffering child parts. For, from deep within, you can never feel really safe and secure in the world, or reach your full human potential, until you’ve convinced these protective parts to allow you to intervene for them and actively engage with the so-vulnerable “inner children” they’ve sought to keep sequestered. (Because actually healing these parts is—by the protectors’ own admission—far beyond their job description.)
Next, it’s time to invite these wounded parts to emerge from their caves and tell you about the heavy emotional burden they’re still carrying. And whatever these afflictions may be, they’ll enable you to better comprehend why your protective parts have regarded it as absolutely imperative that they regularly trigger emotional agitation and negative physical sensations in you to prompt you to act in ways to block this pain from engulfing you. And what you’ll recognize is that, unconsciously confronted with present-day reminders of past emotional crises, your protectors’ intentions have stayed constant: to help prevent you from doing what once had such harmful repercussions for the exiles they’ve labored so hard to keep at bay.
Once reunited with your hurt exiles, you begin the healing process by being there for them, as no one back then ever was. You have these parts tell you, and visually show you, what events led to their feeling so bad about themselves—and probably the world around them as well. And you help them to understand that you’ve now come back for them. That you’re the patient, caring, empathic, and responsive parent they’ve so long yearned for. That you’re able to love and accept them unconditionally. And that you can reassure them about any (perceived) threats to their survival.
And finally—whether or not you were able to demonstrate this earlier (because for so many years your Self-leadership was preempted by your various protector parts)—that you can now manifest the internal resources and resilience you couldn’t in the past. Which is the reason your childhood protective parts felt obliged to take over for you in the first place.
You carry on a dialogue with these different exiled parts, one at a time, until you’ve won their trust. And only when, having removed them from each troubling scene they report to you and managed to get them to perceive it in a less self-damaging way, do you invite them to join you in the present: To become an intrinsic part of your grown-up Self and, if they’re ready, to choose where inside you they’d now like to reside.
That’s when they’ll begin to experience how much better (i.e., less symptom-generating) a “bodyguard” you can be for them. And, now partaking of your courage, comforting, and fully functioning emotional resources, they’ll require less and less defending. No longer do they need to hide, or rather be hidden by, the juvenile parts protecting them since childhood (but only through squashing or stifling them).
Moreover, these “inner children”—finally nurtured by Self—no longer need their protective parts to act in the extreme (and frequently maladaptive) ways they had been. So the Self can now grant these parts a much needed vacation . . . and have them return refreshed and ready to assume more appropriate—and less burdensome—roles.
And that’s the ultimate goal of IFS therapy: to reunite all your different parts and allow the Self to lead the newly blended, harmonious “ensemble” that is you.
© 2017 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
Earley, J. (2009). Self-therapy: A step-by-step guide to creating wholeness and healing your inner child using IFS, a new cutting-edge psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Larkspur, CA: Pattern System Books.
Internal Family Systems. The Center for Self Leadership. (the official website for IFS)
Murphy, B. About internal family systems therapy: Self-led solutions. (n.d.)
Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Schwartz, R. C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Oak Park, IL: Trailhead.
Schwartz, R. C. (2008). You are the one you’ve been waiting for: Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships. Oak Park, IL: Trailhead.
Seltzer, L. F. (2017). How and why you compromise your integrity: Internal family systems therapy can free you from self-sabotaging defenses.…

Healing – by not going somewhere else!

Therapy can take us on a relentless journey – if we really want to glimpse how we can heal ourselves and others, we are forced to put our trust in the depths of our own heart –  that it contains potentials we have not begun to dream of – but we cannot open this up by trying to get somewhere else.
The following is quoted by Joan Tollifson (herself  an amazingly courageous explorer of our ineffable birthright who was forced to confront Life without a  right hand) – from Joko Beck:

Joko said: “Practice is not about having nice feelings, happy feelings. It’s not about changing, or getting somewhere. That in itself is the basic fallacy. But observing this desire begins to clarify it. Read More


Why we torture ourselves with the desire to be perfect…

One of the most bewildering facets of human life that i have encountered is that people regularly construct a virtual reality mask, which is designed to be the exact opposite of how they really feel about themselves – my experience is that this is based on very early and uinversal tendencies in he human infant… Long ago I lived in upstate New York at the Phoenicia Pathwork centre, where I came across these astonishingly incisive accounts of how all this comes about (from pathwork lecture 58). The pathwork lectures go on to state that  the infant in each one of us, reacting to insecuity and unhappiness, constructs a maks of perfection, which is the exact opposite of how we really fear we are, based on the following tendencies. Needless to say without recognising these tendencies in ourselves, we cannot escape the treadmill they create.
” Happiness in the wrong concept is expressed in the following way:  “Only if I can have what I want, the way I want it, and when I want it, can I have happiness. I will be unhappy with any way other than this.”  Included in this statement is the demand for absolute approval, admiration, and love by everybody. The moment anyone seems to fail to meet this requirement, the person’s world crumbles. Happiness becomes an impossibility, not just for the time being, but forever after. This, of course, is never the intellectual conviction of an adult human being, but emotionally it holds true; for when everything seems hopeless, the mood becomes desperate.
The undeveloped being feels in terms of black and white. It knows no in-between. Either there is happiness or there is unhappiness. If things happen in accordance with its wishes, the world is bright. But if the tiniest little thing goes against its will, the world looks black.
When the infant is hungry but for a few minutes, these minutes are eternity, not only because it lacks a time concept, but also because the infant does not know that the period of hunger will be over in a very short time. So the baby is in absolute despair, which you can observe in a crying child. The issue over which the baby cries seems in no way related to its anger, fury, and unhappiness. This part of the personality, freely expressed in infancy, remains hidden in the psyche of the adult and continues to produce similar reactions. Only the reasons change, and the outer display becomes modified or even completely covered by rational and reasonable behavior. But this in no way proves that the inner reaction has truly been eliminated or that the person has come to terms with it in a process of inner maturing and growth.
The infant realizes very early that the kind of happiness it wants is unattainable. The child feels dependent on a cruel world which denies it what it thinks it needs and could have if the world were less cruel.
If you think it through logically, you will find that the primitive and distorted concept of happiness actually amounts to a desire for omnipotent rulership, for unquestioned obedience from the surrounding world, for a special, elevated position above all other beings — since others are expected to fulfill what the person desires. When this wish cannot be gratified — and it never can — the frustration becomes absolute.
It is impossible, of course, for any human being to remember these early emotions, for you have no memory of your first few years. That these primitive reactions continue to exist without exception in all human beings is a fact, and you can find these emotions by various ways in the work you are doing on this path. You can find them by observing past and present reactions, by analyzing them from the point of view of the inner infant. First, discover where the infant still exists in you with its desires, feelings, and reactions, and focus your attention on this particular aspect of your personality. You will then have reached a point from where you can start to outgrow the unrealistic and unrealizable concept of happiness and build the proper, mature, realistic, and realizable concept. This will be infinitely more gratifying. Until you have experienced the infant in you, you cannot understand certain inner conflicts as being the effect of the chain reaction this fundamental distorted concept sets off.
The more the child grows and learns to live in this world, the more it realizes that the omnipotent rulership it wishes is not only denied but is also frowned upon. So it learns to hide this desire until the hiding has progressed so far that the growing person himself is no longer aware of it. Two basic reactions follow. One is:  “Perhaps if I become perfect, as the world around me asks me to be, I will get so much approval that through it I can attain my goal.”  You then start to strive for such perfection. Needless to say, my friends, although we are all in agreement that all beings should strive for perfection, this kind of striving is wrong. It is wrong because of the motive. Here you do not strive for perfection in order to love better and give more. You do not strive for the sake of perfection itself, but seek a selfish end. And it is wrong further because you want to reach the goal of perfection right away, since happiness through omnipotent rulership is desired at once. To reach immediate perfection is, of course, utterly impossible. It forfeits the healthy acceptance of one’s own inadequacies, which enables the personality to learn healthy humility and accept being no better than the rest of humankind.
The frustration becomes a double one; the first desire — omnipotent rulership in order to be happy — is not realized, neither is the second one, that of attaining perfection in order to obtain the first desire. This, in turn, causes acute feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, of regret and guilt. For the child does not yet know that no one is capable of attaining such perfection. It thinks itself unique in having failed and has to hide this shameful fact. Even when the person has grown up and consciously knows better, this reaction, not having been aired, continues to live locked in the soul. In the unconscious of the  personality, the argument goes on:  “If I were perfect, I would have what I want. Since I am not perfect, I am worth nothing.”  The second conscience, as I once termed it, continues whipping and whipping you, holding up the unrealizable goal, so that each failure causes additional despair and guilt, increasing the feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.”


Award as ‘best integrative psychotherapist in South London’

I dont quite know what to make of this, but ‘Global Health & Pharma’ have informed me they have awarded me the title of the best integrative psychotherapist in South London. Make of this what you will – a psychotherapists website is a mixture of a platform to reach out to the world (to you!), and a duty of care…
“Thank you for taking part in the Mental Health Awards 2017, hosted by GHP. We have had an over whelming response from a wealth of amazing mental health care leaders, and it is with great pleasure and excitement that I can inform you that you have been successful!
Bruce Stevenson has been awarded Best Integrative Psychotherapist – South London
Industry awards are proven to enhance your credibility, promote morale and increase both your market share and client retention.
Finding out about the good news is just the beginning, regardless of budget it is our aim at GHP to help keep the impetus going, expand your brand reach and importantly, boost your influence as a respected industry leader.
Every winner in the Mental Health Awards is entitled to receive the complimentary, which comprises the official press release and inclusion in the online winners’ list.”
“Global Health & Pharma
GHP is a global information sharing platform & a multi-disciplinary members community. Established to enhance communication networks & collaboration across all themes and disciplines within 3 main categories; Human, Animal & Environmental Health. Whilst the membership is organically grown and closely audited, members have tended to fall into a number of general categories; Academia, Industry, Public Bodies & Health Systems, Governments & Policy Makers, Funding Agencies & Groups, Investors, Regulatory & Professional Bodies, a more detailed breakdown can be found under circulation.”

Why hope often leads you to frustration

All of us find ourself longing for some kind of fulfilment, which so often seems to be disapointed at every step – since we find ourself already looking through a telescope of what is usually blind hope, we fail to see how much we often sacrifice ourselves on this altar (and alter!) and end up feeling cynical and frustrated. . Aldous Huxley once defined cynicism as someone who wouldnt take yes for an answer…
There is another dimension of being we cannot find by looking that lies right under our own feet, that is available when we can dare to feel disapointment, or sadness – doesnt sound great, but it enables us to stand our need, trust our own perceptions, and deal with the weirdness of Life Read More


IFS Session

Perhaps I should emphasise the client concerned gave her express permission for this to be written up, and all identifying details were altered!
IFS sessions can really allow your own knowing, (the ruler that dwells within – in Chinese Zen parlance) to get to work – because they can help you SEE how ‘parts’ of the mind have learned to sidetrack you and defend you, but when recognised for what they are,  and understood they become willing to step back so that you can reconnect with  a young part of you who got lost….
Me at the start of a line – interjections by me as therapist
ME = Myalgic encephalomyelitis
IFS session with ‘Gloria
…Stomach feels repulsed, no rejecting something I can’t digest – sharpness?
Picture of me prioritising the least important things and getting nowhere; recognition I don’t know how to set personal goals and stick to them
Recognition that there is no one in charge….
I don’t stop and check in with what I really want to do..
victim mentality compare myself to others is insidious.
Nausea in the solar plexus…
sleepy weak fatigue says: leave me alone I want to curl up and sleep, daydream it’s too much to think…
me – I have a figuring out part they can get very tired sometimes….
yes this figuring out part collapses..
The duality between the figuring out part and collapsing part is very striking; putting my feet on the floor I am allowing the body to talk and the body is responding.
A wave of  ME descending ;
 me  -what would it say ?
blankness keeps me small..
me:  what’s it afraid would happen if you weren’t small ?  He doesn’t know
the ME does the same thing as the blankness…
me: like a blanket thrown over a prisoner going to court?
Feeling spreads, heightens itself, radiating from the body into the energy field where it is less solid and fuzzy…
wave of sadness at not trusting myself…(She had recognised her sensitivity to energy fields then had judged this sensitivity)
energy leaking out into the aura depleting me not aware of the energy field
 lacking energy..
If you are sick you expel, but this is on an energetic level?
Heightened ME – a band – deep ache under the ribs – a blow to the solar plexus and then I bend over…
tiny bit of sadness that knows before I do, the consequence of that blow – the solar plexus took the blow to protect the vulnerable core..
The core part where Gloria is very small and in hiding –
Relief to connect with that part that’s been waiting…
 I saw her for the first time, feel a bit stunned she seems almost deformed like a plant that has been kept in the dark
me :how do you feel towards her?
 sadness can’t feel it fully it is too painful it would overwhelm me and consume me..
me: ask how old the sadness thinks you are?
 it doesn’t know
me: tell her  (often young parts don’t know the person they live in is an adult)
 Sadness is  allowed…
Me: there is beauty in sadness, when you can admit the loss, it is your path back to your heart.  You are grieving for her.
She’s been trying to get my attention via nausea and pain in the ribs and even the ME, ache getting me to try and listen to her.
Do I trust myself, will I listen to her?
Saw her as a nub of light  – energetic power that was there that could blossom.
 Surprise at the strength of it; that little nub is not so tight; light is coming in, surprised at the strength and the power – is that me? Never seen myself like that before.
Me: does she know you are paying attention to her?
Yes, attention has allowed her to soften and expand and not be so contracted and be playful..
Me  –  bit like getting a credit card statement with a massive surplus – it would take time for yout to update your understanding..
         Put attention on nub of light – anything she wants you to know?
She knows exactly what she needs.. Nourishment …don’t have to figure it out, its just growing the connection..
End of session
me – important to thank the parts of you that took risks to allow you to get to know her –
 There was a figuring out part,
 a blank screen,
 a ME part was leaking out in, and
 a cynical part ,
just reassure them this is all work in progress and they may be able to not have to work quite so hard in future.


What threatens the world most ?

In the light of the pain of recent events on London Bridge and in Manchester, IFS is an efficient way to see through the barriers to the natural truth of the Mind, which is usually run by our conceits and fears. Ajita asks the Buddha, ‘What is it that smothers the world? What makes the world so hard to see? What would you say pollutes the world and threatens it most?’ ‘It is ignorance which smothers,’ the Buddha replies, ‘and it is heedlessness and greed which make the world invisible. The hunger of desire pollutes the world, and the great source of fear is the pain of suffering.’ ‘In every direction,’ said Ajita , ‘the rivers of desire are running. How can we dam them, and what will hold them back? What can we use to close the flood-gates?’ ‘Any such river can be halted with the dam of mindful awareness, ’ said the Buddha. ‘I call it the flood-stopper. And with wisdom you can close the flood-gates.’ (Sutta Nipata, vv. 1032-1036)