Self and Self-Energy in IFS Therapy

Understanding Self and Self-Energy in IFS Therapy

Ever feel like you have more to you than just one personality? Are you a mix of different “parts” that sometimes clash? That’s a key idea in Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, which recognizes these sub-personalities and aims to bring them into harmony. Central to this process are the concepts of Self and Self-energy.

What’s the Difference Between Self and Self-Energy?

Imagine trying to eat ice cream but ignoring that it’s cold. It wouldn’t be ice cream without the cold. Similarly, in IFS, healing is only possible by engaging with the Self. So, what exactly are Self and Self-energy?

● Self: This is a state of consciousness that’s crucial for healing. When you’re in Self, you experience the 8 C’s: Compassion, Curiosity, Calm, Clarity, Courage, Connectedness, Confidence, and Creativity. Additionally, there are the 5 P’s: Playfulness, Patience, Presence, Perspective, and Persistence. These aren’t just words to memorize; they describe a state of being you can feel in your body and mind.
● Self-energy: This is the vibe or the energy that comes with being in the state of Self. It’s not just an idea but a lived experience that radiates from you. Self-energy can be present in varying degrees even in parts that aren’t entirely Self, and the goal in IFS is to increase this Self-energy within all parts of your system.

The Embodied Experience of Self

Self isn’t just a concept; it’s an embodied experience. When you’re in Self, you might notice:

● A sense of expansion in your chest
● A feeling of lightness in your body
● Clearer and more peaceful thinking
● Smooth, deep breathing
● Relaxed facial muscles
● Feelings of tiredness if there’s a lot of stress

Why is Self So Important in IFS?

Self is the cornerstone of healing in online IFS therapy. Here’s why it’s so crucial:

● Healing Principle: Healing happens when the Self interacts with parts. The stronger this relationship, the more healing naturally occurs.
● Session Goals: In each IFS session, the aim is for the client to identify their parts, enter the state of Self, and communicate with their parts from that state.
● Dialogue: The more empathic, compassionate, open, and calm this communication, the more healing happens. This dialogue helps parts heal from trauma, let go of dysfunctional behaviours and correct distorted views of reality.

Three Ways to Describe Self

Self can be understood in different ways, depending on what resonates with you:

The Traditional Way: IFS books often describe the Self as the “absence of parts.” When parts step aside, the state of Self remains characterized by calm, clarity, courage, and compassion.
The Spiritual Way: Self is akin to the “Higher Self” or “Spirit” in various spiritual traditions. It’s a state of consciousness marked by love, calm, and compassion.
The Undamaged Part of Yourself: This is a hopeful perspective. Despite any difficulties or problems, there’s always a part of you that remains undamaged by trauma. This undamaged Self is always available to foster healing.

Remember, “We Are More Than Our Parts”

So, who are we? We’re a mix of Self and our parts. When we lose touch with Self, and our parts lack Self-energy, we tend to over-identify with the pain, trauma, and distorted views carried by our parts. The key to improving our mental health is remembering that there’s always more to us than the problems we face at any moment.

Experiencing Self in Therapy

While everyone can experience Self, it often takes time and the guidance of an IFS-trained therapist to access it consciously. If your internal system is heavily burdened and protected, it might take several sessions to reach a sense of Self from which healing can begin.

Final Thoughts

IFS therapy emphasizes the importance of Self and Self-energy in the healing process. By understanding and fostering this inner state, you can achieve greater harmony among your parts and overall mental well-being. If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, contacting an IFS therapist could be the first step on your healing journey.