- Jay Earley
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Blending is a more extreme form of activation.
They believe that if they don’t do something, no one else will, and a disaster will ensue. They think they are still back in childhood where they had to deal with life’s trials and tribulations all by themselves. In reality, most protectors are child parts that developed their protective strategy when you were young and didn’t have the capacity to act in skillful and mature ways. So their actions are simplistic and often extreme like a child’s, and their strategies carry over into adulthood.
Take time to empathize with the part’s feelings about what happened, as you would with a friend,
There are six common types of protectors that can derail your work—judgmental parts, avoiders, intellectualizers, impatient parts, inadequate parts, and skeptics.
If you feel judgmental, angry, or frightened, for example, you are blended with a concerned part, and you ask it to step aside so you can work with the target part from Self. However, even if you start working with a protector from Self, a little later in the session a concerned part might blend with you without your realizing it. As a result, your attempts to connect with the target part will be sabotaged by the concerned part’s anger, judgment, or guardedness.
Some Avoiders use a third strategy. You feel confused and lost. You can’t follow the thread of your work. You can’t remember what the part was telling you just now. You don’t remember where you were in the IFS procedure. If a new emotion comes up, you get lost in it rather than asking it to step aside. This type of confusion is often created by an Avoidant Part so it can stay away from pain.
Once you detect the operation of an Avoider, ask it to come forward so you can get to know it. Then treat it like any other concerned part. Ask it what it is afraid would happen if it allowed you to continue your work. Then validate its feelings, if that is appropriate, and explain how you will handle its concerns.
When you are getting to know a protector, it is common to think you are in Self when in fact an Intellectualizer Part has taken over. One sign of this is that you analyze the target part rather than asking questions and listening for its responses. Ideally, you should allow the target part to tell you about itself.
Skepticism can be very useful if it is applied at the right time. At the wrong time, it will derail the process.
You will recognize an exile because it has a vulnerable emotion such as shame, fear, sadness, or hurt.
In IFS you always ask; you never order or coerce. This is because you want to develop a cooperative relationship with your parts.
Here is the entire sequence of steps for the IFS process.
Though the protector is keeping you from the pain, it may not realize that there is an exile that is already feeling the pain. It may think it is actually preventing the pain from existing at all rather than preventing you from feeling what the exile is already experiencing.
A key principle in IFS is that all parts are welcome. This means we need to be genuinely open to getting to know each part from a curious and compassionate place, which will encourage it to reveal itself.
When you ask yourself what you are feeling toward the target part, if you notice curiosity, openness, compassion, acceptance, or something similar, you are in Self, and you can proceed to the next step, P4. If you notice anger, judgment, fear, or anything negative, you aren’t in Self. But don’t worry—you aren’t doing anything wrong. It just means there is another part that is blended with you which is feeling the anger, judgment, or fear. I will call this the concerned part because it has concerns about the target part.