In my journey towards inner healing, I have been learning from my friend and mentor Tamara about Dr. Richard Schwartz’s theory of the Internal Family System (outlined above). He believes that each person’s internal system is made up of a number of different roles, with only the core self reflecting our true inner essence. Although one can strongly identify with the other roles (manager, firefighter, exile), these are essentially learned responses or coping mechanisms, rather than a true reflection of self.
It is important to start to recognize which part of the self is coming forward and engaging at any one time. This provides the opportunity to observe, listen and tend to its needs rather than simply moving into automated response mode. You can identify when you are acting from your differentiated, core self if your behaviour meets the eight c’s: calm; curious; compassionate; connected; confident; creative; courageous; and clear.
In order to reconnect with the core, it is essential to start to cultivate awareness through the body. This is done through the act of nurturing a loving connection with yourself on a daily basis. You can achieve this by intentionally taking time to pause throughout the day, sit and feel the emotions that are coming up, without judgement or resistance. This helps you to start recognizing when care and attention is required, and offer it to yourself, before slipping into an automated pattern of habitual response.
Connected to this practice is the theory of healing the inner child. Many of the behaviours that manifest for the adult self are reflective of unresolved issues from childhood. Reparenting is the act of giving yourself what you did not receive when you were young. This concept is captured well in these short videos by the Holistic Psychologist:
In order to offer yourself the deep care and nurturing you require on a daily basis, it is helpful to adopt the four T’s: time; touch; tone; and tenderness.
- Time: Cultivate your relationship with yourself by making time to regularly check in. A good opportunity to do this is when you first wake up in the morning and when you are falling asleep at night.
- Touch: Place your hands on your body: heart and belly. This helps to establish a point of contact; and it bring your attention to the physical and energetic sensations that you are experiencing.
- Tone: Become mindful of your self-talk. How are you speaking to yourself? Try to adopt a gentle, soothing tone: think of how you would address a child or a close friend.
- Tenderness: Offer loving kindness to yourself, as you would any other. Tend to your needs. Recognize that when you are coming from a place of strength and wholeness, there is so much more that you can give to others.
You can start by exploring this menu of simple but powerful tactics outlined by the Holistic Psychologist. She recommends cultivating a daily practice of setting boundaries, building emotional awareness, offering self-care and exploring what give you joy.