An overview of "parts work" - p. 2 of 7

 The Goals of Parts Work

      Living most days controlled by rioting, impulsive short-sighted false selves is  like being on a moving bus with a mob of noisy passengers constantly fighting to control the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator, disregarding the skilled driver and arguing over directions and rest stops. Living with frequent or constant inner conflict and anxiety is also like being in...

an orchestra or choir whoís skilled, temperamental performers often disregard the conductor and try to force their ideas of leadership on each other; or like...

a troupe of feisty, passionate, insecure actors who disrespect or distrust the director, and argue often about who's to play what role, how, and who gets the credit; or like...

a professional sports team whose players donít trust each other or their coach, and constantly argue and fight for control of what to play, when, and how; or like...

a chaotic, reactive classroom of students who disrespect, distrust, and ignore the teacher.

Think of these analogies when you read "false-self control" in this Web site.

Key Goals

      Parts work (inner-family therapy) aims to free your true Self and other Manager subselves to guide you in all situations and relationships. Subgoals are to...

_ accept the reality of having a normal multi-part personality. Then...

_ identify your three pr four types of subselves and which of them distrust your Self; and...

_ Identify any subselves living in the past, and bring them safely into the present; and...

_ build all subselves' awareness, trust, and cooperation to allow your wise Self (capital "S") and other Manager subselves and your Higher Power to lead in all situations; so over time, you can...

_ steadily enjoy yourself, relationships and daily life, as you use your unique personal talents and gifts (''self-actualize'') to benefit your3 family and the world.

      If you live this way now, congratulations! Thereís no need for you to read further, unless you're on Earth to teach and/or heal wounded people. Caution: a clever ("Magician") subself may convince you that you're living harmoniously when you really aren't.  Reality check - ask several trusted adults who know you well if you often display these true-Self traits and behaviors.

 Five Phases of "Parts Work"

      Each person will develop their own style of inner team-building and wound reduction. There is no right way: success is measured by the results you experience over time (p. 6). You can do parts work (a) by yourself, (b) with a trained helper, and/or (c) with one or more supportive, informed partners like a recovery group.

      The process of inner team-building (''recovery") can be divided into five phases. Though you can skip around, I suggest that following the order of the steps below is most efficient in the long run. The phases are:

  • Prepare - study Lesson 1 and validate the reality of personality subselves;

  • Assess yourself for psychological wounds, and define your wound-reduction goals;

  • Gather resources for the work

  • Free your true Self to guide you ("recover"); and then...

  • Extend parts-work to your key relationships

      Here's more detail on each phase. These ideas are guidelines, not absolutes. The phases can overlap, and you can tailor them to fit your unique situation as the healing and learning process unfolds:

I) Prepare

      _ Study all four Parts in Lesson 1 in this nonprofit Web site. Do the "assignments" in order, one at a time.

      _ Scan the playlists of summary YouTube videos that augment articles in all seven Break-the-Cycle! Lessons. Many of these Web articles and worksheets include one or more summary videos. Do not use the videos as a substitute for patiently studying and applying these online self-improvement lessons

      _ When you can "pass" this quiz about personality subselves, wounds, and recovery, youíre ready to assess yourself for psychological wounds and learn about parts work.

If you doubt the reality of personality subselves and their effects on your thoughts, behaviors and health; read this letter to you, and try this safe, interesting exercise. If you (your false self) still doubt subselves' reality, stop here. The rest of this article and Lesson 1 will not help you at this time

      If you're a (grand)parent, consider that freeing your Self and breaking the [wounds + unawareness] cycle is a priceless life-long gift to your living and future kids.

Phase 2) Assess Yourself for Psychological Wounds

      _  Assess whether you're dominated "too often" by false selves - i.e. assess if you're a Grown Wounded Child (GWC). Do this with the attitude that you didn't ask for or cause these psychological injuries, and your unaware parents and ancestors didn't mean to pass them on to you.

       _  If you feel you are wounded (controlled by false selves in important situations and relationships), accept that...

  • you were probably raised in a low-nurturance family by wounded caregivers, and...

  • you are a normal GWC, which merits no shame or guilt, and...

  • Affirm that you are not - and never were - "sick" or "crazy;" and that...

  • you can free your true Self to guide you and reduce your wounds over time.  

      _  Review this outline of how psychological wounds affect average people, and see if you relate to some of the effects in your own life.

      _  Decide if you're ready to commit to wound reduction as a major life priority. This often depends on whether you've hit true bottom yet. If you haven't, read the rest of this article for awareness, and apply it when you're ready.

      _  Review this overview of personal recovery (wound reduction) for perspective on what you're about to do.

      Recall - you're reading an overview of the five phases of psychological-wound reduction.

Phase 3) Gather Resources

      _  Decide if youíll use a parts-work journal as a place where some of your subselves can vent and record your experiences and discoveries. I recommend it, even if a (protective) part says "Oh, I canít write!" Parts work is about trying new things safely and learning...

      _  Choose inspiring hero/ines or models: From all the people you know or knew, identify one or more well-balanced, wholistically healthy, self-confidant, nurturing, productive persons whose life philosophy and actions (vs. occupation or credentials) you specially admire. If practical, ask if s/he will mentor you in this work.

      Option: at some point, select a professional counselor or coach who (a) understands and agrees with the Lesson-1 concepts here, and (b) is interested in guiding you toward freeing your Self and harmonizing your subselves;

      _  Vividly recall any experiences you've had as a member of a well-functioning, well-led group, class, committee, or team. As you proceed, use this memory to imagine what your subselves will feel when they're all...

  • clear on your life goals and their roles in your inner team,

  • living in the present, and...

  • trusting your Self and other Manager parts, and your Higher Power to lead, encourage, and protect them;

      _  Image your results. review "What to expect," (p. 6) and identify what specific personal life-changes you want to make with effective parts work. Imagine your daily life and relationships in detail after you meet and harmonize your inner family. Refer to this image often as you progress.

      _  Rank how important freeing your true Self is to you now. Decide what other life activities and responsibilities are more important, and whether you want to allocate regular time to free your Self to guide you. Be alert for scared Inner Kids and their Guardians trying to deflect and dissuade you from doing this vital healing.

      _  Pick initial supporters. Decide whoís safe to share your early parts work with, and what youíre willing to disclose. Stay alert for one or more people who...

  • have similar personal healing and growth goals,

  • are open to the inner-family (subself) concept, and...

  • want to exchanging support and encouragement along the way.

      _ Option - research your community and/or the Web for a high-nurturance recovery group of like-minded people - ideally led by someone who's Self is clearly in charge.  Consider joining this free, international FaceBook group of fellow GWCs in recovery.

Phase 4) Free Your True Self to Guide You

      _  Over several months, use stressful and pleasant life situations to (a) discover which of your subselves are most impactful, and to (b) develop the specific parts-work skills described below. Your main goals are to...

_ Pick a comfortable label for all your parts together: my team, family, troop, troupe, gang, orchestra, choir, expeditionary force, community, committee, clan, squad, crew, ________....

_ Pick a title for your inner leader that feels right - e.g. my Self, Coach, CEO, President, Leader, Exec, Director, Conductor, Chair(wo)man, Chief, Guide, ___________ 

_ Evolve a roster of all your subselves, and profile each one - (e.g. type, gender, age, role, talent/s, alliances, needs, and limitations. Some people create a spreadsheet to do this.

      As safety and trust grow, suspicious, disguised, and reclusive subselves will reveal themselves at different points along the way. A useful reference concept is called the Johari Window.

_ Use internal interviews (p. 6) to identify the young and Guardian subselves who distrust your Self and cause each psychological wound you've identified. Also identify any parts living in the past.

_ Practice asking yourself ''Who's in charge?''' at random times of the day and night. Over time, you'll develop an instinctual sense of when your true Self is or isn't making your decisions. 

_ Evolve proactive strategies to reduce each of your wounds over time, using your resources (above), these Lesson-1 checklists, and the parts-work techniques outlined in this series. 

_ Identify any disowned (rejected, excluded, denied) subselves, and patiently encourage them to become valued, respected members of your inner family in the present.

_ Help each of your Inner Kids realize they're part of a caring family of subselves. Connect them with each other and your Manager subselves - specially your Nurturer (Good Parent) and Practical Adult. The aim is to help each young subself live in the present, grieve past losses, and learn to trust that they are valued, safe, and cared for. Some clinicians call this process "reparenting."

_ Reorganize and team-build your inner family. Introduce all parts to each other, your Self, and your Higher Power, over time. Patiently build mutual trust, group awareness, purpose, teamwork, and pride among all your subselves a step at a time.

      As your needy Inner Kids grow to trust your Self, your Nurturer/s your Wise (spiritual) One/s and reliable  people around you, negotiate new roles for their Guardians. Option: try inner-family council meetings (p. 6) with your Self presiding. Have you chaired team meetings in real life? Do you know someone who's talented at team-building?

_ Celebrate your progress periodically, pace yourself along the way, and balance your recovery work with your other responsibilities and priorities. This will get easier as your work progresses and your Self leads more often.

      Continue to do steady or situational parts work as long as it feels useful. Some people use it only for resolving one problem, like managing an addiction or stressful relationship. Others spend several years freeing and developing their true Self and related inner harmony and productivity. You can do the work steadily or in periods with "rest stops" as needed. As your Self gains group trust, inner conflicts and anxieties drop - and so does the need to "do" parts work.

      As you experience the very real personal and family benefits of, parts work, it may become a personal philosophy and a way of life for you. As you gain experience with the process...

Phase 5) Extend Parts Work to Key Relationships

      _  Learn to recognize other peopleís subselves in action, and use your inner-family knowledge to improve your relationships with them. The most satisfying personal relationships are those between two true Selves and their well-functioning inner families. That and common values and dreams may be what causes "soul mates."

      The most powerful social application of parts work is teaching young kids about subselves and how they work. Kids are often faster than adults at picking up the idea of "little people" inside and working with them. A child who understands her/his true Self and false self (e.g. Alex #1 and Alex #2) will have a great personal and social advantage over unaware kids and wounded adults. Accepting the reality of subselves and where they come from usually breeds tolerance and compassion in typical conflicts.  

+ + +

      These five phases and the various techniques described below look like stand-alone projects. In real life, they overlap, and - like grief and adolescence - seldom have clear end-points. Parts work is an organic spiral over time - it flows, shifts, and evolves. Still, it has specific goals, phases, and progress-markers along the way.

      Pause, breathe, and note your thoughts and feelings ("self-talk"). They are your subselvesí reactions to this parts-work overview and what it means to them so far.

      Do all these concepts, phases, and tasks feel daunting? For perspective: four years of high school or college work seen all at once seems like an overwhelming project. Looking at each class one at a time feels much more doable. Parts work is the same. You take one step at a time, with time-outs for rest, re-grouping, and relaxation. Best of all - you (your Self) set and adjust the schedule and the targets!

      Inner-family therapy (parts work) is about maximizing the quality and productivity of your life over time. Can you name a more worthy project? If you're a shame-based Grown Wounded Child, you'll probably have a well-meaning subself trying to convince you that you don't deserve to "maximize the quality of your life."

      Now let's explore how to work with and harmonize your busy subselves.

 Getting Started

      A good initial step is to interview one or more of your subselves when you're undistracted and feel "ready." If you haven't recently (or at all), try this safe, interesting exercise. Then return here and...

Prepare to Meet Your Inner Family

      Doing parts work can yield richer results over time if you take these preliminary steps:

  • Decide whether to use a parts-work journal now or later.

  • Draft an initial list of your subselves and evolve a comfortable way to think of and name them all as a group;

  • Clearly envision inspiring models of...

    • a Self-led "hero/ine",

    • a truly effective team or family, and...

    • a dedicated, healthy female and/or male Nurturer;

  • Clarify your initial parts-work goals (p. 1) and expectations (p. 6);

  • Decide how important parts work will be in your life, among your other current goals and responsibilities; and ...

  • Choose trusted supporters: i.e. people who will encourage and affirm this work and your progress  along the way.

      Letís explore each of these preparation-phase steps. Notice your mental and emotional reactions with interest. How do your parts seem to feel now about you (your Self) getting ready to meet, harmonize, and lead them?

To Journal or Not?

      Serious (vs. recreational) parts work is like exploring rich, unknown land. If your style as a real-world tourist is to take pictures and buy postcards and mementos, then consider keeping a notebook, log, or journal for this inner adventure. This can be specially helpful if your dynamic subselves tend to be disorganized and scattered. Your inner-family work will be more productive if you stay clear and focused along the way on what youíre doing, how, and why.

      A major reason to create a parts-work journal is to give some of your subselves a place to communicate safely. Clients have taught me that some parts only express themselves by writing prose or poetry or drawing pictures. Journaling opens this channel - perhaps giving one or more of your subselves a "voice" for the first time.

      A part being able to express itís feelings, needs, views, and hopes - and being heard by your Self and the other parts - can release inner tension. Recording dialogs between two or more parts can be a powerful help in understanding and resolving their inner conflicts and raising your subselves' harmony.

      Also, inner-family journaling over time lets you compare how you feel now vs. earlier in your work. Doing this promotes recognizing significant changes in your beliefs, priorities, feelings, and behaviors; and validating the parts-work process and your efforts.

      As you (all) make your initial decision about journaling, note any "resistant" thoughts and related feelings. These can sound like...

"Journaling is dumb" (Inner Critic)

"I canít write well" (Skeptic/Doubter)

"People will laugh at me!" (Scared Child and Shamed Child)

"Too much work!" (Playful Child);

"I might uncover something awful!" (Catastrophizer); and

"Iíll never reread it, so why bother?" (Cynic/Pessimist).

      Your true Self might respond to thoughts like these like: "Well, this journaling idea seems to scare some of you. Weíve never tried it before. Maybe it could help. Canít hurt to try it and then decide whether it's useful or not."

      Finally, note the power of words. Does making a workbook, record, or a log feel different than keeping a journal? How about keeping a record, a diary, or "a lab notebook"? If you have some uneasy subselves,  sometimes the label you use to describe your parts-work writings can make a difference to them. As with all parts-work decisions, if journaling doesnít feel right now, you can start at any time.

Inventory Your Subselves

      This YouTube clip previews what you're about to read:

      Who are you? If you were only one self, the question would be "Who is you?"

      Option - if you haven't recently (re)read this brief history of the inner-family concept and these common Q&A items about subselves.

      Recall: each of your personality parts or subselves seems to be a semi-autonomous region of your brain that affects your psychological, physical, and spiritual experiences. Each part has itís own thoughts, feelings, goals, plans, role, time frame, and world view.

      Each subself has a developmental age, (usually) a gender, a preferred name or job title, a unique "voice"  (thought pattern), and may use one or more inner images to represent themselves to you (your Self, capital "S"). Subselves are a normal part of being human, not some pathological condition - except after significant childhood trauma!

      If part of you has some doubts about this work, acknowledge it respectfully and ask it to wait and see what happens. Their protective skepticism will be validated or it wonít.

      What youíre about to do is like a reporter identifying the staff of a small organization, and learning their roles. Some "staff members" may not be present at the moment.

      Print these four sets of common subselves, and find an undistracted time and place. Check, asterisk, or hilight each one that "fits" you. Title them differently if that feels better (to someone). If you're unsure, use a "?".

      Next, add any other personal traits not included in these sets - e.g. (I'm a...) animal lover, dentist, photographer, chef, sky diver, etc. Include any less-thrilling traits like dishonest, selfish, reclusive, spiteful, sarcastic, secretive, bully, unforgiving, etc. 

      Divide a horizontal blank page or computer spreadsheet into 6 columns.

  • In column one, list each trait you checked or listed above.

  • In column 2, enter your estimate of the developmental age of this subself. Trust your intuition and don't compute. If you're not sure, put "?."

  • In column 3, put what type of subself this is - M(anager), C(hild), G(ardian), or S(piritual). If you're not sure, put "?".

  • In column 4, put the part's gender - m(ale), f(emale), none, or ?.

  • In column 5, put your intuitive guess as to whether this subself trusts your true Self (Yes, No, or ?)

  • In column 6, put your intuitive guess as to the main "job" of this subself - e.g. "make people like me," or "keep me focused."

      This will look like...

Name / trait  (subself) Age Type Gender Trust Self? "Job"
 scared one





 protect me





 protect scared one





 prevent egotism

      Option - now redraft this initial parts-roster, grouping your subselves by type: i.e. put all the Managers together, then the inner kids, then the Guardians, and finally the "?"s.

      Next, scan all your entries and asterisk, circle, or hilight the parts you feel are most active (influential) in your recent life.

      Review your whole roster now, and imagine your subselves as a group. Ask yourself "Who usually leads them all?" Trust the first response that comes to mind. Many people naturally answer "I do" or "Me." Recall: that the word "I" now describes (probably) 15 to 25+ subselves. They canít all be in charge - or can they? Ask the question again and be open to any inner answer, "hunch," "sense," or vision. Donít edit, compute, or analyze - just listen. The answer to strive for is "my true Self."

      If the answer seems to be one or several of the parts youíve listed, circle them. If your response is "I donít know whoís in charge of my subselves," notice how that feels. Who would you like to lead your inner crew (personality)?

      Reality check: learn the common emotion-clues that your true Self is trusted to lead your other subselves. Then scan these common behavioral traits of false selves. Using these, think of a recent period like "the last three months" and ask again: "Does it seem like my Self (capital "S") is usually leading, or 'someone else' (false selves)?"

      If you feel you do have a true Self, make sure you've included him or her on your roster. Use a title or nickname you're comfortable with. Shame-based (wounded) people are often uncomfortable with the title "my true Self."

      Scan your roster again to see if you intuitively know which part is directing and guiding this parts work. It may be your Self and/or a spiritual subself, a Wise One, or a Health Director. These subselves instinctively cooperate with your Self for overall harmony. Some people have a small healing committee. If no clear answer emerges here, thatís OK.

      Look over your initial list of subselves. These are the most easily identified members of your talented inner team. Underline or highlight any of them you feel a special interest in or discomfort with. How would you describe your feelings about all of them together? Pride? Indifference? Discomfort? Wonder? Unease? Startlement? Curiosity? Anxiety? Nothing? Expect your list to change as you do this work

      As you see them assembled, whatís your instinct: are all these parts of you usually unified and harmonious? Do they all know about and trust each other? Do they have a common purpose yet? Do they have a trusted and respected leader? How would you feel if you could confidently answer "yes!" to all these questions?

      Finish this preparation step by experimenting and choosing a comfortable term for all your subselves together. My Inner Family / Team / Clan / Community / Committee / Squad / Gang / Troop / Troupe / Tribe / Crew / Team / Band / ... Your term should feel "right" to (all of) you.

      Now that you have an initial sense of who your team is...

Pick Inspiring Guides or Hero/ines

      Shift mental gears (and maybe your body and breathing) now. Review your life to pick some clear examples to inspire and lead you along the way. See who comes to mind after asking "Who do I know who seems to have lived an exceptionally balanced, serene, satisfying, productive life?"

      The goal here is to identify a person who lives with their true Self consistently in charge and their inner family is usually calm and harmonious. Youíre seeking someone whom you instinctively know is clear on...

  • who they really are (and arenít),

  • what their personal gifts, limitations, and life-mission are, and...

  • someone who seems deeply satisfied with who they are becoming, and how they're doing that.

      Your hero/ine may be male or female. Be wary of a subself insisting that you have to choose someone your parent/s, partner, or friends would approve of. Also watch for some subselves wanting you to pick unmatchable superheroes like Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, St. Patrick, Mother Teresa, Lincoln, or a Pope. Perhaps youíd like to blend the qualities of several hero/ines into a composite Guide or Hero/ine.

      Once you envision one or more inspiring persons, see what happens inside after saying something (out loud) like "I will learn to be as serene, wise, joyous, Self-satisfied, productive, confident, and wholistically healthy as (my hero/ine) seems to be, over time."

      If your whole inner crew cheers - great! More likely, youíll hear distrustful (scared) subselves declaring all the reasons this is a brainless, stupid, impossible fantasy. Can your Self listen tolerantly, and hold on to your hero/ine vision?

      Recall - we're reviewing preparation steps for doing effective "parts work." The next step is...

Pick an Effective-Team Model

      Meditate on whether youíve ever experienced being part of a truly harmonious adult or adult-child group, with a clear common purpose and a highly-respected, competent leader. If so, recall vividly what it felt like to be part of that group. If not, describe in detail how you think it would feel.

      Ask other people if theyíve ever belonged to a group that consistently worked well together. Learn why it did, and what participating in the group felt like to them. The group might be a family, a team, an artistic troupe, a business department or task force, a congregation, a committee, a set of neighbors, a class or seminar, a travel tour, ...

      Describe your impressions in detail. Be able to explain the traits of a really harmonious, effective family or team. Now imagine all your unique, talented subselves in such a group. Imagine each of your subselves feeling about your Self and each other what you may have felt about your real-life team and itís excellent leader. Meditate on how it would feel to belong to a really unified, harmonious group of adults and kids - for thatís what your inner family can become!

      Get clear over time on how such a group effectively handles conflict and differences of opinion between members, and how the leader facilitates resolving these. If helpful, write these ideas down and highlight them in your parts-work journal. Ask others their opinion on this and collect a rich sample.

      As your parts-work progresses, refine this vision of the co-operative dedication to a common purpose your talented subselves can achieve. If someone inside says "I can never do that!" reassure them you hear their disbelief, and that youíre setting out (anyway) to discover how to do this thing that they (you) havenít experienced yet in your life.

      For a perceptive look at the process of team/community building, I recommend Dr. M. Scott Peck's book The Different Drum - Community Making and Peace.

      The next preparation step is to...

Pick Inspiring Nurturers

      Significant parts work always involves meeting, rescuing, and caring for your scared, lonely, rageful, lost, sad, shamed inner kids. The good news is that we all seem to have one or more subselves whose natural skill and motivation is to nurture them and others in a healthy way - a Nurturer or Loving Parent. If youíre not familiar with that part of yourself at first, it can help to scan the people you know and focus on one or several whom you see as really effective, unconditionally-loving caregivers.

      Hold them in your consciousness as clearly as you can. Vividly imagine them comforting, guiding, protecting, confronting, soothing, and loving. Notice what they do and say, and how they look. Begin to realize clearly why you think theyíre effective nurturers. What makes them specially successful in this role? As you get clearer on this...

      Begin to imagine (regularly) how it would feel to have one or more such Nurturers always available within you to gladly and tirelessly minister to your needy or upset young parts. As you begin to get in touch with your inner "Good Mom / Dad / Parent," learn appreciatively how that part reacts when they see your inner kids "act out."

      As your parts work progresses, stay alert for inner and outer examples of what unconditional caregiving looks, feels, and sounds like. When you can verbally describe these in some detail - youíve got the foundation laid.

      Now you have a rough draft of many of your subselves; and clear, inspiring models of ...

  • a wholistically-healthy, Self-led hero/ine (model);

  • a consistently harmonious, dedicated, well-led team or family; and...

  • one or more gifted nurturers.

      The next parts-work preparation step is to ..

Clarify Key Beliefs and Attitudes


      A belief is an observation about life on Earth that you accept as "true" without question ("Dogs and mice don't sing, pray, or speak Portuguese.") From new experiences, information, and/or new reasoning, (some) beliefs change gradually or suddenly.

      An attitude is a subjective opinion about something's nature, like good/bad, right/wrong. pleasurable/painful, healthy/unhealthy, etc. Given life experience, new information, and new environmental conditions, attitudes can change permanently also. ("I used to think people who prayed were superstitious wimps. Now I don't.")

      Check any beliefs that match yours now: "I believe that...

__  Normal personalities like mine are composed of talented, interactive subselves or parts;

__  I have a resident true Self (capital "S"), whose natural talent is highly-effective leadership of my other subselves in all situations - if they trust her/him;

__  My Self can negotiate with other subselves to cause useful internal and behavioral changes over time;

__  I may (or do) have psychological wounds which significantly degrade my wholistic health and relationships, and I may pass them on to the young people in my life.

And I believe that...

__  I can reduce my wounds and free my Self to guide and harmonize using an appropriate form of 'parts work' (inner-family therapy);" and...

__  Grown Wounded Children (GWCs) have no reason to feel ashamed of their wounds or their effects. And...

__  I (my Self) can learn to converse and negotiate with my subselves toward reducing false-self dominance and improving inner-family harmony and contentment. 

      Now compare your attitudes to these...

__  Intentionally cultivating self and social awareness is healthy and good.

__  People (including my parents) aren't bad, stupid, or selfish - they're wounded and unaware.

__  In most situations, ranking my health, welfare, and comfort equal to those of every other person is good for us all.

__  Asking for appropriate help in freeing my true Self and reducing my psychological wounds is healthy and good, not "weak."

__  Working to protect young people from inheriting the lethal  [wounds + unawareness] cycle is a priceless gift.

      Note the theme of these key beliefs and attitudes, as you review your own in preparation for doing parts work.

 Clarify Your Parts-work Goals

      To provide purpose and direction to your explorations, invest time identifying specifically what youíre trying to do for yourself. My experience is that initial parts-workersí objectives are vague, very general, or very narrow. Thatís OK! Thereís a wide range of inner-family goals available to you. For example:

"Iíll try parts work out, and see what happens."

"I want to change my whole attitude about life. Have I been (controlled by) false selves for all these years?"

"I want to find out what to do with my life."

"I want to understand why I do the things I do..."

"I want to be less depressed and anxious."

"I want to have more fun!"

      Whatever your initial parts-work goals, (a) write them down; (b) say them out loud, and see what thoughts or feelings bloom; and (c) choose an attitude of "My goal/s can change along the way."

      Work patiently over time to refine your first harmonizing targets into simpler, concrete, specific objectives. For example, an initial goal of "I want to have more good friends" can evolve into "I want to significantly increase my confidences about dancing, being assertive, dealing with authority figures, and interpersonal conflict." That can evolve into "I want to find, meet, rescue, and free my Self-doubting and anxious parts, and redirect their Guardians to other inner-family roles."

      Life coaches suggest that weíre often better motivated by using positive assertions and goals rather than negative ones. Positive statements focus on building, healing, and increasing assets, rather than reducing, destroying, "fighting," or conquering. Notice whether it feels better to say "I have to stop being so pessimistic and negative," or "Iím steadily learning to be more genuinely optimistic and hopeful."

      Your choice of words counts in defining your inner-family-building goals. Black and white imperatives ("I must be happier!") tend to be limiting, and can raise your subselvesí "performance anxiety" and doubt. See how simple, clear, positive-action, here-and-now goal statements work for you, like: "I'm now learning to feel more balanced, serene, and joyous at a pace thatís just right for me." (Can you get into that one?)

      Omitting or minimizing this initial goal-setting step risks "riding off in all directions" and concluding that parts work isn't effective. Setting your parts-work goals is an ongoing process, not an event.

      As your parts-work goals become clearer, prioritize them periodically to avoid trying to work on too many things at once. For example: if you find from initial parts work that the process really does bring positive changes to your life, your Achiever, Perfectionist, and other subselves might push hard to work on "lose that weight for good / stop being so shy / have a better sex life / make more money / stop interrupting others / make more friends / sleep better / end these migraines / break the Dove-bar habit / stop obsessing about _______!"

      This can feel like being in Disneyland and wanting to take all the rides at once. As an effective exec, your unblended (enabled) Self is likely to say something like "Look, we have to pick one or two projects at a time. There is enough time and energy to work on each of these. Probably the best choice for us right now is to focus on being less "busy," and to make time to meditate and do some parts work each day without too much guilt or anxiety. How does everyone feel about those two goals?"

      Notice that the specific steps outlined in this article provide ready-made goals. Avoid adopting them as is unless you rewrite them in your language and style and make them yours.

      Once youíve picked a specific parts-work target, try vividly imagining your daily life after fully achieving that goal. Option: write a journal page, and sketch a typical "new" day. What would be significantly different? (Don't forget the new conflicts that will arise smiley face ).

Continue with more preparation steps on page 3 ...

Updated  January 21, 2015