What is Self?

Oct 25, 2019
It is a strange fact that we all walk around and take ourselves to be a me, but have no real clarity or understanding about it. From the outside it cannot be found – hence most psychiatrists tend to reduce behaviour down to chemicals in the brain. Francis Crick: (the discoverer of DNA) wrote that: “You, your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. . . . You are nothing but a pack of neurons.”

Western academic psychology gave up exploring experience directly – William James, the professor of psychology at Harvard – said early in the 19th Century that he knew of no way to steady the power of attention so that it was possible to just watch the flow of experience. Sadly he did not know about the experience of the Buddha, who learned to watch the flow of experience, and discovered the power of mindfulness. In being the knowing, we recover our power to see clearly and be unified with Life. The Buddha called this the experience of ‘No-Self’ – in that all the apparent divisions between a separate ‘me’ and the universe fall away – this same experience (beyond words) is called the Self in IFS.

The Self is a key aspect of the IFS Model that also differentiates it from other models. This is the belief that, in addition to these parts, everyone is at their core a Self that contains many crucial leadership qualities such as perspective, confidence, compassion and acceptance. Working with hundreds of clients for more than a decade, some of whom were severely abused and show severe symptoms, has convinced me that everyone has this healthy and healing Self despite the fact that many people have very little access to it initially. When working with an individual, the goal of IFS is to differentiate this Self from the parts, thereby releasing its resources, and then in the state of Self, to help their parts out of extreme roles. It is through getting to access your real Self – which is in all of us – that you can heal yourself.

IFS just has a very simple and efficient way to explore and heal the obstacles to relaxing into the Self, from here you can begin to offer the understanding and compassion that your parts may have desperately sought from others…

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