Do you have difficult or conflicting thoughts with Valentine’s approaching? We might have thoughts about being lonely, not having a partner, or having a difficult time with our significant other. We’re supposed to send a valentine, right? But maybe we can’t write one sincerely right now. How do we deal with that?
Just simply notice, without judgment.
Begin to think about these thoughts as parts of you, not all of you. In Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy we teach our clients to differentiate our parts, bringing each into focus. When we are able to do this, we can see upcoming events like Valentine's Day more calmly and clearly. There may be a part of us that’s excited; after all, there’s chocolate involved! Another part might see the occasion as very forced, and yet another part might be spinning scenarios about loneliness or hopes of sparking a new relationship.
We can realize, these are all parts of me, not the whole of me. And we can begin to recognize that our thoughts aren’t ourselves. A favorite bumper sticker: DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU THINK. I love this. So true!
We IFS therapists teach qualities of self-leadership that help us develop positive self-energy to assist in developing a rapport or a relationship with our parts. These include:
- curiosity from the heart
You can practice by thinking about Valentine’s day in a context of self-compassion and love -- a place where we can have a really healthy rapport among all of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and perspectives on the world. Bring awareness to that.
Employ curiosity from the heart.
Curiosity from the heart is non-judgmental. But we can even be curious about our judgmental parts! That can be a game-changer, allowing our parts to differentiate, so we no longer see them as ourselves. We may notice that a part was actually giving us information, and arrive at a place where we are able to have a healthy relationship with our parts, instead of blending with them, so we can partake of the wisdom offered by our feelings.
If we’re totally enmeshed with our sorrow, anger, or fear -- we can’t have a relationship with it. Differentiation creates space, opens up so much possibility, for healing, for movement, for self-love!