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Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Beneath the surface of the protective parts of trauma survivors there exists an undamaged essence, a Self that is confident, curious, and calm, a Self that has been sheltered from destruction by the various protectors that have emerged in their efforts to ensure survival.

Once these protectors trust that it is safe to separate, the Self will spontaneously emerge, and the parts can be enlisted in the healing process. 

 Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

We are a system of parts. Like an "inner family", certain parts of us seemed unacceptable and became burdened by beliefs or a sense of badness. In an attempt to belong to our external family, we had to keep these parts of ourselves exiled or hidden away. Exiles are still hidden in the system, and will often try to be seen again in ways that cause us pain.

 

Other parts of us took on protective functions to sustain this separation, and themselves may have been burdened by their role. This is how an inner system adapts it's natural functions to survive at times in life when we most needed care and support. Once this protective system forms, it can stay that way long after the original danger has passed. We find ourselves continuing to use habits and patterns that only seem to make things worse, but we can't stop. Or, perhaps the protective system has settled in our bodies in the form of physical illness.

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Burdens weigh on the protectors and the exiles. As we get to know them, and our undamaged Self; we can find the resources we need to bring parts back into a healthy balance with compassion and awareness of the important role they play in our inner system.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is another way to know ancestral attachments, or Legacy Burdens. We can also work with collective burdens from our family and cultural systems, like grief.

Christina is IFS Trained by the IFS Institute (Level 1), complete Feb 2024.

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