Wise Self-and-Parts Work
Wise Self-and-Parts Work*
* NOTE: Perhaps you have heard of IFS or Internal Family Systems, the work of Dick Schwartz. The Wise Self-Parts Work I offer is drawn from Ron Kurtz’ Hakomi and Jon Eisman’s ReCreation of the Self or RcS. It is both similar and different to their cousin IFS. Ron and Dick were friends and were inspired by one another’s work while at the same time following the direction of their own visions.
One of the most important transformational acts of healing happens as you:
- Identify your "Wise Self" or "True Self."
- Become conscious of your reactive selves, or voices, or “Parts”—those habitual patterns you adopted long ago to protect yourself from getting hurt, though in current time they keep your world small.
- Acknowledge the original hurt and piercing of the heart that caused you to adopt the Parts.
- Thank yourself and these Parts for doing the best you could do at the time given the limited support you had.
- Come home to your aliveness and live from your Wise Self.
In therapy we will work together to help you understand your Parts and to help you inhabit your Wise Self. Together we will help you discover:
- A felt sense of your healthy self and its various, healthy, facets: Wise Self.
- A compassionate map of your defenses, roles, unhelpful systems and identities: Parts.
- How your Parts arose from hurts in your childhood and youth.
- How your Parts are habits from long ago, and their reverberations cause you to inhabit old limiting roles, unhelpful systems and unsatisfying habits that curtail your life and prevent you from being—You!
- Help you catch yourself when you engage with yourself and others in limiting and unsatisfying ways.
- Healing and understanding for your Parts which arose from pivotal interactions with: family members, friends, peers, bullies, teachers, spiritual figures, abusers, neglect, etc.
- A renewal, rediscovery and return to your True Self.
Experiential and somatic therapies offer expedient methods which go beyond talk therapy. They offer a wide palette of techniques to help you transform your hurt self into your healed self, Parts to Wise Self. The trajectory of this work, over time, and during a session, includes the following:
- Recognize your longing for your Wise Self.
- Recognize the habitual ways you protect yourself, the Parts.
- Do a “take two” like in Hollywood to transform pivotal scenes from your early life so that you finally have the expressed, lived sense of receiving the healing experience of what was most needed at the time of the original hurt. Hakomi even has a name for this: “The Missing Experience.” It is the medicine that is received with a felt sense “Ah ha!” that offers transformation and healing.
- Sometimes this may mean saying things to the family members or to the people who shaped us, even if they are no longer living, even if it may never be appropriate or useful to actually speak to them in real time—but you can do this in our sessions.You absolutely need a safe place to find your voice, your physical responses, and claim your birthright and your treasures.
- It may mean rewriting your story, through experiential work, so that you finally feel the protection of an advocate, are able express your anger or sadness fully, make a boundary, or give back whatever you are carrying to the people whose real work it is, etc.
- This long overdue witnessing and completing enables you to let go of old limiting beliefs and habits and to embody the alive, nourishing beliefs and ways of being that were always your birthright, your Wise Self.
- Practice being your Wise Self!
The Wise Self
Being in the Wise Self or True Self is the state when brain function is balanced, and when we have access to our resiliency, creativity, compassion, aliveness and presence.
- The Wise Self allows intimacy, compassion, vulnerability and love.
- It is not, however, a spiritual bypass clinging “only to the positive.” The Wise Self makes boundaries including using anger wisely.
- Seated in our Wise Self we have enough grounding to let our hearts mourn and to be pierced by sorrow, not turning away from the ache, but neither succumbing to it nor numbing.
- The Wise Self allows the entire polaroid snapshot mandala of a given moment to be present—the mud and flowers, the demons and angels, our critical selves and our compassion, our experiences of fun, joy, sadness, death, and mystery.
- Our Wise Self knows sometimes we will go down a rabbit hole of self deprecation or unhelpful habits, and also knows we can say Oops! and return.
One main function of somatic and experiential therapy is to help you have a felt sense knowing of when you are in the Wise Self and when you are in a Part, and how to return to your Wise Self. During sessions I offer interventions that help you increase awareness, self compassion, have felt sense, keepable healing for old wounds, and practice in returning to and living from your Wise Self. I want you to walk out of the door of every session with a felt sense of how to come home and stay home in your own unique being.
The Parts work I do is an Eclectic Palette drawn from:
- Jon Eisman’s RcS or ReCreation of the Self—embody the Wise Self.
- Ron Kurtz’ Hakomi and its character maps—work with mindfulness, kindness and curiosity to support and transform habitual and limiting “Parts” or “voices” into a nourishing sense of the Wise Self.
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy/Traumawork—embody resources, be witnessed, bring online orienting and defense responses, finally complete old physical and neurological responses to trauma, return to a sense of aliveness.
- Psychodrama—a variety of techniques to talk with parts of yourself, dream figures, family members, animals, various states of consciousness, etc. in order to transform and release stuck patterns and return to wholeness.
- Sacred Drama—archetypal drama techniques to embody a returned soul part, an animal, or a gift from a shamanic retrieval session, or to talk to a spirit helper.
- Family Constellation—uncover and release trapped energy from the lineage of your family.
- Dreamwork—enact characters, animals, symbols, images and energies from your dreams.
- Family Systems—recognize and shift your role in family patterns, expectations, and alliances.
- Sculptures—sculpt yourself, or a partner in couples therapy, to physically embody an element of a system and work with it to transform it.
A Little More about The True Self and Parts
The Wise Self or True Self
Do you know the feeling of engaging in something and you just feel “right unto your bones?” You may give a lot of energy, but it doesn’t feel like effort. Instead, whatever you are engaged in brings you energy because it is an expression of your Wise Self. We are all born with this sense.
Our Child Self Gets Hurt
Our Wise Self is our birthright—we are born with it. However . . . we have these things called . . . families, mean teachers, bullies, illness, divorce, accidents or death in the family, abuse, abandonment. Sometimes our families love us but we are just so different from them that we feel brokenly alone, like a harpist in a family of trombone players.
Where Our Parts Come From
Kids can’t handle getting hurt. They’ll die or crazy! However, we have a third option as humans—we hire guys! Depending on our natural proclivities and the situation we find ourselves in, we develop ways of coping that are brilliant in a limited situation. As kids, we can’t just say, “I’m tired of all of you, I’m moving to Hawaii to find a new family!” It’s complicated—you often love them a lot—the very same people who also hurt you. That’s very confusing for a child.
In therapy, do you know what the first thing is that we do with these Parts that helped you make it through childhood and youth? We say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Because it was their job to say, “I’m never going to let you get hurt like that again! I’m going to protect the treasure that is you, and do what I can to protect you from being hurt.”
However, it’s like if we receive $10,000 a month in income and we spend $9,500 on our security team, our Parts, the remaining five hundred bucks isn’t much to play around with. When we’re hurt as kids we put aspects of our Wise Self away. That is the Treasure that our Security Team of Parts protects. However, the Parts don’t know that we actually made it over the wall and are safe! At least, we won’t ever get hurt in the same way we did as a child, because we have our adult self to protect us, love us, and support us, and to make good choices that bring us alive. Eventually, as you learn to live from your Wise Self, you’ll get almost all of the ten grand to spend. Your Parts can go off in the barracks and play cards and be ready if you really, really need them. But meanwhile, you have reclaimed your Treasure—you can live as your Wise Self.
One Map of Parts . . .
These are some common ways our Security Team of Parts protects us:
- Get Out of Dodge: This is too scary, I’m going to run away. Or I could just live in my art, computer programming, music. Humans are scary and I am from another planet. (Protected Treasure: Incredible creativity hampered by the inability to connect).
- Space Out: This is overwhelming, I’m going to binge on Netflix, or take heroine, or go numb. (Protected Treasure: Great sensitivity hampered by the inability to be present).
- Compliant: If I’m really cute, sweet, and please others, they might love me. I’m so afraid of being disappointed, and what they offer will be sure to go away. (Protected Treasure: Kindness, friendliness, youthfulness hampered by the inability to have boundaries and be empowered).
- Do-It-Yourself: It’ll only get done if I do it myself, I can’t rely on others, and I sure won’t ask them for help. I help others, but I feel resentful even though I won’t ask for help. (Protected Treasure: Great capability hampered by the inability to receive and to soften and to need).
- Get Smooth: I will charm lest I be charmed; I will manipulate lest I be manipulated. Smoke and mirrors! (Protected treasure: Good leaders hampered by the inability to be genuine).
- Get Tough: I'm in charge. I’ll be the baddest baddass and no one will mess with me! More smoke and mirrors! (Protected Treasure: Courage, good leaders hampered by the inability to be vulnerable).
- Underground Freedom Fighter: Why do bad things always happen to me? I can’t say no directly, so I’ll find a sideways way of doing it. (Protected Treasure: Loyalty, humor, keen sense of justice unfettered from guilt hampered by the inability to be direct).
- Get Busy: The only way I’ll be loved is if I work hard. Work, work, work! Work! (Protected Treasure: Capability hampered by an inability to dwell in heartfulness and love and an inability to rest and be).
- Attract Attention and be Really Interesting or Funny: If I tell the most interesting story, with multiple chapters and verses, I might get a little bit of attention. (Protected Treasure: Ability to perform and entertain hampered by the inability to receive and be present).
. . . and The Corresponding Healed/Wise Self:
- I’m safe and welcome. I belong. I can be here. I can trust. All my feelings are welcome and natural.
- It’s okay for me to be powerful.
- It’s okay to need others and to ask for help.
- I can be real and vulnerable.
- I can be direct, do it my way, and still be loved.
- I know I am lovable just as I am, without having to do anything.
- I feel understood and seen.
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