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  /  Spirituality of Self Energy in IFS

Spiritual Aspects of Self Energy in IFS

Self energy is the healing ingredient in Internal Family Systems (IFS). 

Here I will illustrate additional qualities of Self Energy, beyond the ‘8C’s’ – Compassion, Clarity, Courage, Creativity, Calm, Connection, Clear & Curious.

Inclusivity – Self energy is inclusive to all parts. ‘All Parts Are Welcome’ is its motto. Self energy offers attention that is unconditional, non-moralistic and agenda-free. Self energy does not exclude, judge or blame or shame any parts. Self energy offers calm, connected, curious and couragous loving attention to all parts. This is a new experience for parts that are used to interacting with each other in conditional agenda driven dynamics.

Integration – Self energy welcomes and forms connections with all parts of us equally. This is the basic premise in IFS- ‘All parts are welcome’. In welcoming all parts, our Self energy integrates the fragmented parts of us. By attuning with parts, Self energy connects parts to the whole system in a soothing and safe-making manner. This process leads to unburdening, releasing parts from the burdens they carry and enables post-traumatic growth of parts. Once parts have let go of their limiting beliefs and pain they often finding a brand new way of being and a renewed purpose.

Not Knowing – Self energy comfortable not-knowing. Being comfortable in the unknown is often one of the ‘tell’ signs of Self-energy. Needing to know and needing to ‘get it right’ reflect manager parts’ needs. Self energy is open here and now to this present moment as it unfolds. Self energy connects to the potency and mystery of this moment without agenda or needing to know, simply present here and now.

Time & Timelessness – Self energy exists in the present moment and connects through this moment with all other moments (timelessness). Self energy is attuned to ‘Timing’ as it is connected to the potentiality of this moment, of what is available/possible here and now in its unfolding. 

In contrast, ‘Self-like’ parts of ours have expectations and opinions as to what should happen in this moment and often reject or find it difficult to connect with what is actually unfolding in this moment.

Also, often parts are stuck in other times in the past where wounding occured and strategies to deal with that wounding were constructed. Self energy can go to where parts are, connecting and witnessing parts in past, offering support and meeting needs retroactively. Self energy offers parts a new kind of time- a present moment that warmly welcomes parts and support parts to ‘digest’ their difficult experience, this enables parts to get ‘unstuck’ from their focus on the past and enter the freedom of new possibilities and use of their time and flow.

Safety & Trust – Self energy holds a safe place for parts to be with and feel what has been unsafe. Parts differ in pace of establishing trust in this safety with Self energy. This is valid and to be recognised and cherished as part of the process of Self energy meeting parts where they actually are. 

Acceptance – Self energy accepts parts as they actually are with the experiences and often limiting beliefs they carry. Including so called ‘unacceptable’ ones. Many of our parts are stuck with experiences that were unimaginably painful and unacceptable to them. Self energy compassionately witnesses our parts experience, pain, unmet needs. 

When parts are witnessed they feel accepted. This acceptance helps parts that are holding on to hurt to let go of this hurt they carry, to turn away from the past and enter fully into their feeling of the present moment where accepting is happening. Finally, parts have a good reason to enter the present moment as it feels better, by validating their experience of pain and warmly accepting them – the part and the pain can seperate from each other. This healing movement allows parts to letting go of pain enables a part to freely flow forward into a creative future instead of repeating a burdened past.

Centred – Self energy is still and centred even when our parts are feeling chaotic and confused. This centre feels clear and calm, grounded, present. There is a strong and often soothing somatic, i.e. physical and in the body, element to our sense of centre, as well as an energetic element. We feel the sensations of our body, we feel the balance and weight of our body and are comforted by these sensations of centredness, balance, weightedness/groundedness.