For the past week or so, my friend Eva had felt really grumpy and she couldn’t put her finger on why. As far as she could tell, Eva was doing everything to practice Self care.
- She made sure she wasn’t too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT).
- She was getting her RDA (recommended daily amount) of eight hugs or more per day.
- She was also extending a lot of Self compassion her way.
So why was Eva still grumpy?
Internal Family Systems (IFS) lens can help you uncover the Self care that’s right for you
When I’m working with my clients in Stockholm, we talk about:
- When parts are “up” triggered or exaggerated
- Being blended with a part
- Being hijacked by a part
So in the language of IFS we would say Eva was so blended with this grumpy part she had less and less of her Self energy available to her. It became a vicious cycle. The grumpy part had finally gotten her attention, now what did it want need or desire?
What was missing for Eva was connection. She needed to reconnect with herself and tap into her own inner thoughts and wisdom. The smartest expert on what Eva needed to feel more like Eva…was Eva! Who better to know what she needed and wanted than Eva herself?
This is where the Self qualities of Calm, Compassion, Curiosity, and Connection all come in.
IFS Self Care Method #1: Who’s Talking?
Self care the IFS way means turning inside and finding out what you need. I call this Who’s Talking.
I wrote about how I applied the Who’s Talking exercise to address a too loud/too big part of me. You still want to do that exercise, but in the case of Eva’s grumpiness, I want to remind you of something.
When you turn to your loud part, you’re going to feel worse before you feel better. That’s because this part wants you to feel its pain! And you need to feel it and stay with it. You can say to this part, “I didn’t know it felt THIS bad. What’s going on, that you feel this bad?”
You might even have other parts of you that don’t want you to get “closer” to grumpy and distract you. Eva had a rational logical part that told her things are not so bad she had no reason to feel grumpy.
As you acknowledge your part and its pain, and extend your Compassion interest and kindness to that part, it begins to relax and to trust you.
This is what happened for Eva. She finally stopped running from the feeling and turned around and asked it, “What do you want?”
She discovered that even though she had been super busy and responsible, getting so many things done, this grumpy part of her didn’t like this. This part had had no chance to be creative. This part wanted to go for a walk in the woods with her camera and take photos of nature during wintertime. But Eva hadn’t given this part the chance.
The interview is pretty simple. Turn inward and ask, “Who’s talking? Who’s up here?”
Talk to the parts one at a time. Borrowing from my previous blog post, ask this part:
- What is happening right now that it feels it needs to be loud?
- Is a specific issue triggering this part?
- What does this part believe you need?
- What does this part need from you?
IFS Self Care Method #2: The Care Package
If you ever went to summer camp or to college, perhaps your parents sent you a care package: a box full of your favorite goodies that remind you of home. Maybe you’ve sent one to a friend who was abroad who just couldn’t find his favorite snacks in his new country.
An IFS Self Care care package would be more like a TLC (tender loving care) box. It’s full of things that invite Self qualities into your body and mind via your five senses. All of the items in the box appeal to your five senses.
What would those be for you? Brainstorm and write them down. You want them to:
- Soothe you
- Connect you to what feels like the essence of you
- Calm you
- Awaken your creativity and feeling of being alive
- Invite you to feel joy
Here’s a short list to inspire your brainstorming.
- A candle that smells really good to you
- Swimming in the ocean
- Reading a great novel
- Playing with puppies
- Baking bread
- Going fishing
Some of those things you can do immediately, and others you might need to visualize or have fun planning a trip until they can happen in real time.
How Self Care the IFS Way Worked for Eva
The ending for Eva was that after she “discovered” she was grumpy because she had not taken the time to do what felt creative to her she felt better. She said it felt to her like something came unblocked and she felt lighter.
The next day she got the impulse to take her camera and walk to work. She took picture of small pockets of nature happening in the city. Her title was “nature in the city” When she got to work she felt motivated and alive.
Are you feeling blocked up?
Try reading through the tips from last month’s Build a Better You Advent Calendar. You’re sure to hear to read at least one thing that helps. And, take a listen to my recent podcast with Self care expert Ellen Bard, who shares her 3 main ingredients of Self care.
If not, I’m only a phone call away. Get in touch.
“Grumpy Cat” by Flickr user Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.