When I read this article it reminded me of an often used Hakomi Method verbal experiment … “All parts of you are welcome here.” When I work with clients who are struggling with parts of themselves that for whatever reason they dislike, are embarrassed by or indeed ashamed of … I offer say these words, as a verbal experiment with a nourishing intention that perhaps they never experienced before. The client sometimes can hear these words in a nourishing way and integrate this experience in to their self-concept … sometimes they can’t. When a client struggles to integrate such warm acceptance it gives me more information on a deeper level about the client, (the part that the article below refers to as ‘Exiles’) and the session continues on this deeper ‘exiled’ level towards nourishment and integration.
The Hakomi Method
Working with our Inner Parts – Mary-Anne Johnson
“When we experience an internal conflict, it is easy to identify the opposing parts. For example, one part of me (that loves to learn) may want to take a university course while another part of me ( a Banker part) takes an opposing position, arguing strongly and rationally that I can’t afford it, while yet another part (the Critic) may point out that I’m not smart enough and will probably fail. In this internal free-for-all, I will inevitably feel torn and indecisive. Even if I do make a decision, my internal critic part may launch an attack to make sure I feel guilty, stupid, ugly, awkward or selfish. Then, noticing this downward spiral, another part may flood me with feelings of sadness and hopeless because, according to it, nothing ever happens or changes and probably never will. This is an example of any number of patterns that may keep me stuck and do not allow me to expand and explore my life.
Our many parts function like members of a large family or tribe – with all its diversity. According to Schwartz*, each part is with us from our birth, possessing its own temperamental style and gifts. Whether a Part takes a strong position in the psyche, or exists only in potential, it has to do with the individual’s historical experience in her or his environment. Over the years, some parts are rewarded by the family or culture. With consistent positive reinforcement, they become stronger and achieve a centrality which would describe, what we think of as, our personality. These “Managers” initially helped us survive. Managers think ahead and help us fit in and be successful with others.
By contrast, we have Parts that have been rejected and/or punished or ridiculed by the family, school system, or culture. These “Exiles” are banished and exist in a sort of exile in the unconscious. Very often, they are vulnerable infant or child parts – although Exiles can be any part which has been subjected to disapproval or considered threatening in some way to the family of origin. Surviving for these parts is often done by becoming invisible. They are still young because they are frozen in the original time of their exile. Still, years later, they carry the burdens of fear, fragility, doom, anxiety.
All parts are valuable to the entire system in the same way that all parts of an ecosystem are necessary for the smooth running of that system. A “bad” part is simply a valuable part that has been driven into an extreme role by a traumatic situation.”
*Schwartz, Richard, Ph.D.. (1995) Internal Family Systems. The Guilford Press, New York, N.Y..