Each month we send out a mailing of what's new and open for registration, as well as a note of reflection from one of us.
In this month of February, we often see more images of the heart, people speak about love and valentines. I have parts that loved being creative and making valentine cards for others and especially liked it when teachers asked us to give a valentine to everyone in the class. My heart always hurt when someone was missed.
I have been exploring my heart recently, listening to wise words of “drop inside and do what your heart is calling you to do” or “follow your heart”! As much as this is great advice, I find this difficult as my head has been in the lead for so long. Even when I have made a decision that resonates with my heart longings, I find many parts that doubt or question the decision.
I have been reading “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo and the passage for February 7 was titled “A Legacy of Sadness”. He goes on to write “Atlas wasn’t forced to hold up the world. He was convinced that if he didn’t, the world would fall.” This speaks to my hardworking managers that keep me going so I am able to show up for others. I have been noticing the amount of self-sacrificing my system has done so I would be accepted into this world, with the hope to also keep this world from falling apart. No wonder I became a “healing/helping” professional. As I turn toward my heart, I am aware of the sadness it carries. I have parts not wanting to be with my heart as they have spent a lifetime avoiding or ignoring this sadness. I have come to know with IFS that these are parts that are in my heart who have great empathy for others.
Mark Nepo also writes “I have come to understand that there is a huge difference between sharing someone’s pain and bearing it”. Part of my journey has been about gaining some clarity about what is mine to hold or process and what is others that I am burdened with, or carrying for them. I am in a process these days of being with the parts who took on the job of holding and giving them permission to give back or let go of what isn’t mine (theirs). My parts and I are in this place of noticing the way we can be with grief in a collective, more compassionate way. There is another way to be with sadness. I now am aware of the parts of me that are so empathic and as I drop into the deeper field of compassion I can notice the difference between empathy and compassion.
Empathy is “I feel you”, Compassion is more “I feel you and I am with you, you are not alone”. Self can be with anything, or in other words nothing is too big for Self energy. This is helpful for me to remember and for my little ones to know they are not alone. When I am able to allow space for my parts to be, more Self energy is available and I am more able to tap into the collective Self energy that is always available. I am so grateful to have found IFS and this way of being with my internal world. My parts that get sad for others (when they don’t get a valentine) don’t have to be alone in their sadness. I am exploring with them if they want to be with me in therapy spaces where there might be a lot of sadness or stories of trauma and pain. Some have chosen not to be there, others want to, especially if I prepare them for sad feelings to be present during the session. When I am able to do this I have more space to share someone’s pain and not take it on.
What do you do to access your Self Energy? What can you let go of today that isn’t yours to carry? Perhaps using the breath to help this process. Breathing in whatever you need today (maybe one of C or P qualities of Self) and as you breathe out letting go of anything that no longer serves you. Allowing it to be as easy as breathing in nourishment for you and breathing out to release.
With compassion and ease
From my heart to yours,
I always have many parts that come up with the change of the year. Parts that look back and wonder if I “did enough” this past year and parts that look forward with expectation and excitement for the year ahead. There are parts that have regrets over missed opportunities and parts that feel so much gratitude for experiences of the past year.
I also have parts that identify spring as the new year and others that feel strongly that September is truly the start of a new year. So, as with so much in life as we get to know our parts better, “It’s complicated!”
When I reflect on the past year’s world events, many parts of me feel overwhelmed by the accounts of armed conflicts, destruction of homes and lives, hunger, homelessness, and the looming collapse of our climate. I have experienced panic, despair, rage, and shame as I have allowed the painful stories of others to touch my own life. I have also felt tremendous love and compassion for myself and others, both close and distant, as we continue to make our way through this life, as best we can.
I love what Toko-pa Turner wrote for the new year: “You may have achieved outstanding goals this year. But if it wasn’t that kind of year, notice the ways, small as they may be, that you’ve lived and loved well. Count the occasions in which you’ve made new choices, held to your truth, made your boundaries known. Celebrate your interior steps, even if they haven’t yet become outer strides. If you are enduring something, take a moment to greet the strength in you that kept going. If you’ve sustained a direction, kept a vision alive, or moved even a little closer to what once felt impossible - glance back to see all you’ve overcome.” (Toko-pa Turner, Facebook, December 31, 2023)
I believe that this process of IFS that we are all engaged in, both personally and professionally, does make a difference in the world. It’s not perfect, and neither are any of us, but the important thing is that we continue to build relationships with our own parts, to connect with others, to offer repair after causing hurt or harm, and to have compassion for ourselves and each other through this process. Being on this journey with you all is a joy and a relief to my parts who have felt alone for so long. Together we can create something new.
With warmth and wishes for more compassion and connection in 2024,