For day 21 of building a better you we’re going to talk about the most essential part of this you you’re building: Self.


What is Self?

Recently I wrote about how parts are like musicians in an orchestra that have Self as the conductor. When Self is leading the orchestra, there’s beautiful music. When one of the musicians aka parts hijacks the band…it’s not such a great sound.

Interestingly, the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model does not try to describe Self. Instead IFS describes the qualities of Self. The more we become aware of our Self qualities, the more they grow inside of us.

It’s like Harry Potter. Once he knew he could be invisible, he had a lot of fun using that skill.

The Self has 8 qualities. They are:

  1. Calm
  2. Compassion
  3. Curiosity
  4. Clarity
  5. Creativity
  6. Connection
  7. Courage
  8. Confidence

The 8 qualities of Self defy the laws of physics!

The 8 qualities of Self have a neat characteristic. The more you cultivate and use them, the more of them you have. For example, the more Compassion you extend to your Self and to others, the more Compassion you have available overall.

That means Self energy is unlike any other energy you’ve ever known. Self energy is truly renewable! How? As you continue to grow your awareness and use of these 8 qualities, the more your parts begin to trust your Self. They “step back” during times of trouble and let Self lead the way through difficulty.

For example, read my post about using Self qualities to help a tired part. You’ll see how Self asks what the tired part needs and then helps bring about the change needed to help that part.

And, Self begins to delegate activities to specific parts, and seek counsel from parts. I describe this in my post about 3 steps to organizing holiday chaos. If you feel like there’s too much to do in these last few days before Christmas, your Self can rely on those helpful manager parts that are so good at keeping your life running smoothly anyway.

Words of wisdom about Self from throughout the ages

I’ve written and spoken about Calm, Compassion, Curiosity, and Connection quite a bit and I even wrote a book, Inner Harmony: Putting Your Self Back in Charge to better describe Self and how to extend Calm, Compassion, and Curiosity toward your parts.

I’ll be writing more about the Self qualities and working within the IFS framework to restore harmony and balance to your life. But for now, I want to leave you with reflections on Self down through the ages.


All know that the drop merges into the ocean,
But few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

–Kabir, 15th Century Indian Poet

I can give you nothing that has not already its origins within yourself.
I can throw open no picture gallery but your own.
I can help make your own world visible—that is all.

—Hermann Hesse

Be attentive to what is arising within you and place that above all else.
What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love.

—Rainier Maria Rilke

Above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

—William Shakespeare “Hamlet”

There is but one cause of human failure.
And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.

—William James

Inside, you are sweet beyond telling…

And the cathedral there, so deeply tall.


The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1327)

Truth lies within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness and to Know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without. — Robert Browning

If we are not truly ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself.  -Erich Fromm

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.  -Carl Jung

PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. (unknown)