There are many people who think that the way to mental health is to get rid of difficult to handle parts of themselves.
They say, “I hate feeling sad.” Or, “I hate being scared all of the time.”
At first glance, I totally get it. These emotions get in the way of feeling your best self.
I am not taking issue with your desire to change these emotions. The problem I see is that your emotions, unlike that pesky fly you can swat away, only get louder when suppressed or denied a voice. It doesn’t heal them. And when you keep pushing them down, there will be a time when these feelings come up loud and strong when you don’t want them to.
So, what is a better way of handling parts of yourself that other parts in your internal system finds troublesome?
Take a moment and guess....
Here is what I have learned from working with my own and many other people’s internal systems through an Internal Family Systems (IFS) lens...
“Once you witness a part, hear its story, it will automatically calm down.”
So before you try to swat a part away... hear its story.
It does not matter whether you are working with your own emotions or your client’s. It is a good idea to witness what a part is carrying before you ask it to step back.
There are several ways to give your parts a voice and hear their story.
One way is to check inside and see how you are feeling and why you feel that way. Or for therapists, assist your clients in this process.
Another way is to journal.
Remember, parts that you witness calm down. Parts that you try to get rid of get louder.