Overview of "parts work, continued from p. 3  Updated January 21, 2015

Communicating with your subselves - continued

Using your Moods and Emotions

      Learning to notice and name your current emotions is a powerful parts-work tool. Some people do this easily and others have to develop their ability. On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is identifying your specific current emotions now? ___

      Premise - each of your subselves, including your Self, has itís own unique emotions at any moment. So because you probably have well over a dozen parts, you can have several different emotions at once without being "crazy." This explains the confusing experiences of "loving" and "hating" someone, or wanting to do something and to avoid it at the same time. (Ever happen to you?) Many of my clients have reported feeling better saying something like "Part of me is really angry (or depressed, sad, confused, anxious, etc.) vs. "Iím so angry!"

      With practice, you can learn to sort out and name your current emotions and identify which subselves are causing them. This skill helps in identifying subselves who distrust and disable your true Self. Any time you experience significant emotions and perhaps related body sensations, you can "go inside" and ask "Whoís feeling so ________ now?" Once you know which subself is causing a particular feeling, your Self can explore what they currently need, and why.

      Often, just being noticed and respectfully heard by your Self and perhaps a trusted outside person enables an over-excited ("emotional") part to calm down. This frees your Self to lead effectively.

      Are moods different than emotions? A mood describes having certain feelings and energy levels (low to high) for a significant period of time. The inner-family concept suggests that moods other than serenity are periods when one or more Inner Kids and/or Guardian subselves disable your Self and govern your glands, emotions, and thoughts.

      Implication: by identifying and working to soothe and satisfy needy subselves, your Self can learn to intentionally shift out of unpleasant moods. This contrasts to the widespread practice of using expensive "mood control" (e.g. "anti-depression") medications. If you developed this mood-moderating ability, how would it affect the quality of your life?

      We just reviewed the wide range of ways your Self can communicate with your other subselves. Next, learn how to put these ideas to work. Do you need a break first?

First Interviews: "What Should I Ask?"

      Imagine youíve just inherited a small business and you want to meet the staff. How would you do that? What would you want to know? How long would it take? When would you be "done"? Meeting your inner family of talented subselves is just the same, with some "extras."

      Over time, learn these things about each of your subselves:

  • Image (if any)

  • Gender (if any)

  • Preferred title or name

  • Developmental age

  • What year they think it is

  • Where they live, and with whom

  • Type of part (Child,  Guardian, Manager, or "other")

  • Main responsibility ("job")

  • Inner-family alliances

  • Key abilities

  • Key beliefs

  • Origin

  • How they communicate (thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, hunches)

  • "Enemies" and allies

  • Frustrations and needs

  • Degree of current awareness of, and/or trust in, your true Self

  • Degree of awareness of other subselves, and of common inner-family goals

  • Guardians: who are they protecting, and why?

      Initial interviews with your subselves can focus on learning (a) these and similar attributes, and (b) how each subself responds to being interviewed. The interviewer is your true Self. This initial contact process can be called "befriending."

      If you have 20 or more subselves on your team (which is common), getting to know each of them over time is a significant project. This is partly true because some distrustful parts may mislead you (your Self) to see how you react, before disclosing themselves honestly. Others may observe, and wonít show themselves at all for weeks or months until they feel safe enough.      

      Before your interview, clarify what you want to learn about this subself. Here are some useful questions. Keep in mind that each subself has its own unique values, goals, attitudes, and perceptions. These may differ a little or a lot from your Self's view of the world.

"Is there a name you'd like to be called?" Some parts feel very strongly about this and others are indifferent. If they don't care, pick a suitable (nick)name.

"How old are you?" Each subself has its own developmental age, which often differs from the age of your body. Trust the first response you get - don't compute or presume an age.

"Where do you live?" Some subselves may believe they're living in one of your past dwellings. Others say something like "out there." For now, just accept that.

"Do you live with anyone?" Inner Kids often live with one or both of your  parent/s and/or siblings. A similar question for kids is "Do you have anyone to play with?"

"What year is it?" It's common for some young subselves to believe it's some year in your past. If you get such a response, delay trying to teach them the truth in this first dialog - just learn.

"What is your job - what do you do all day?" Every subself has a main function or role, which they may or may not be able to describe. Don't presume - accept the first response you get..

"How do you like your job?" Be open to any answer...

"What would happen if you stopped doing your job?" Typical subselves feel some catastrophe will occur to you, including social rejection, poverty, injury, loss, or death. They also fear being useless and discarded or rejected. If so, don't dispute that or reassure them for now. 

"Is there anything or anyone that makes your job specially fun? Specially hard?"

"What caused you to appear?" Often the answer is some trauma or stressful period in your childhood. Be open to anything - a thought stream, a memory, an image, or something else.

"Do you know you're part of a family or team (of subselves)?" Some subselves believe they are all alone. Others know vaguely or clearly of (some) other subselves, but don't feel included among them. A long-range goal is to have all your subselves appreciate each other as a group of specialists with a common purpose.

"Do you know who I am?" Some subselves don't know your true Self exists - or they do, but aren't clear about your Self's leadership role in your inner family. Often, Guardian parts believe they are "in charge," and discount the Self as the group's leader until they learn to trust her/him..

"How do you feel about me asking you these questions?" Expect an answer ranging from "I don't know," to "I don't care" to "I've waited so long to talk to somebody!"

"Do you worry about anything in particular?" Some subselves may never have thought about this. Others may not want to disclose yet.

"Is there anything you want me (your true Self) to know about you or your job?"

If you're interviewing a young subself, you can ask "Do you know where (your) Mom / Dad is now?" It's common for Inner Kids to have a distorted answer.

"Is there some change you'd really like?" If you get an answer, affirm it, and ask the question again.

"Would you be willing to talk with me again?" Once subselves believe such dialogs are safe, they usually say "yes."

      Note the brevity and respectful theme of these questions, and ask any others that occur to you. The answers you get will determine how you proceed with a particular subself.

      Another vital parts-work technique is...

Freeing Your Self to Lead

      Internal Family Systems pioneer Dr. Richard Schwartz proposes that agitated subselves can paralyze, override, or blend with our true Self in situations they see as threatening. Blending is most pronounced when several upset subselves (often an Inner Child and a Guardian) vie for control of your thoughts and actions.

      My clinical and personal experience affirms that blending (false-self "takeovers") happens regularly to most of us. When it does, we lose our Selfís wisdom and wide-angle, long-range perspective, and feel, see, and think what the controlling subselves do. This is like a skilled teacher being temporarily shoved aside or "taken over" by one or more agitated students who then try to run their class successfully. (Some classmates might love this for a while...)

      Some people rarely blend, some do "once in a while," some do several times a day or week, and some Grown Wounded Children (GWCs) have been controlled by false selves their entire lives. The latter adults canít recall or even imagine the experience of being unblended (below). So "unblending" can refer to situational instances of freeing your Self from a dominant subself, or it can mean discovering the clarity and serenity of an unhindered Self for the first time.

      When your Self (capital "S") is guiding you, you'll feel some mix of calm, centered, grounded, confident, awake, energized, alert, "up," clear, focused, resilient, realistically optimistic, "in the present moment," and aware. Any time you feel "significantly different" than that in the present moment, a false self is probably in charge. This has to be a subjective judgment.

      How often does a well-intentioned, distrustful false self guide you? How does that affect the quality of your daily life and relationships?

Subselves Arguing vs. Blending

      If you feel that your Self is disabled, get clear on whether (a) several parts are arguing or debating (causing "uproar"), or (b) one or more parts has blended with (taken over) your Self; or (c) both. "Uproar" is like students in a classroom rioting with the teacher still free to lead. If you have emotions like the above and are having trouble concentrating because of several competing "inner voices," you're probably not blended.  

      Have you ever been a real-life group where several kids and/or adults were talking or arguing at once? If so, was there a leader who was able to quiet everyone down firmly and respectfully and refocus them? If so, recall what s/he said and did. Watch for examples of this leadership skill in your daily life. Perhaps you have ewxpoerie3nce at keeping order and fdocusi9ng a group.

      Your true Self has the natural motivation and ability to stop inner conflicts and debates. and get your active subselves focused on prioritizing and filling their needs in order. The next time you experience "inner babbling," experie3ment with these options:

  • Evolve a list of your Inner Kids, Guardians, and Manager subselves per p. 2;

  • Cultivate personal awareness in solitary and social situations;

  • Acknowledge without blame or guilt "Some (of my) subselves are arguing and distracting me. I need to quiet and focus them." Note how different this feels than "I can't concentrate."

  • Authorize your Self to take charge and provide direction, and take several comfortable deep breaths from your belly.

  • Option - imagine all your subselves in a group, with you (your Self) as the leader. Recall that you can't see your Self - s/he is the one looking at the group.

  • Option - imagine a strong real or imaginary non-violent supporter (e.g. a "peaceful warrior") standing beside you (your Self) as you take the lead.

  • Trust your wisdom to suggest a way of catching your noisy subselves' attention. Draw on real-life experience or on examples you've read, herd, or seen. For example, imagine..:

    • clapping your hands

    • shouting "HEY!"

    • ringing a bell, blowing a horn, and/or banging something

    • confronting each of the loudest subselves and saying firmly "Please be quiet." Expect "resistance," and be prepared to calmly repeat this attention-getting several times.

  • Your subselves will either quiet down or they won't. If they won't, identify the most resistant ones and commit to doing patient trust-building work with each of them later. If they do quiet down, ask the group for cooperation (in your mind) by saying something like this:

      "You each have legitimate needs and feelings now. If you all talk at once, none of us can get our needs met. I need you to talk one at a time, so we can learn to problem-solve together. Will you help me do that for all our sakes?"

      We just reviewed a way to regain Self-control from several subselves arguing and talking at once. The other cause of inner distraction and defocusing occurs when an excited, distrustful Inner Child or Guardian subself has blended with your Self. If you don't feel the traits of true-Self leadership, experiment with this:

Freeing Your True Self (Unblending)

      If your Self is blended (disabled), it usually means that one or more other subselves need some-thing important and they don't trust your Manager subselves to fill their need. These subselves are probably scared, hurt, shamed, confused, or protectively angry. Neither they nor their neediness are "bad"!

      Check your attitude: if you believe "I can learn to replace blending and inner-family anarchy with Self-trust and harmony," go ahead. If not, seek to meet the part who brings you that protective doubt, and patiently negotiate to replace it with trust.

      Go inside, and imagine or vision your Self in a state of blending. Recall how it feels when your Self is free to lead (the box above), and/or imagine the effective group leader you chose as a model. As your unblended Self or excellent leader would do, directly and respectfully ask the part/s who are blending to trust you (your Self), and "step aside" or "move nearby." If they do, notice how your feelings and thoughts change. Thank them, and see what they need now.

      If they donít step aside, compassionately accept this as a signal of their fear and protective distrust. Be alert at this point for another subself - e.g. your Inner Critic starting to badmouth the distrustful Guardian and/or young subself (symptoms: blameful thoughts or angry feelings). If this happens, (a) clearly acknowledge the critic ["You really dislike and disrespect (the distrustful part/s) for taking over control now..."], and (b) firmly ask the critical subself to stop doing that now because it distracts you.

      If more than one subself is blending, focus on one at a time. Seek to learn clearly what they each need now. Listen empathically and patiently to what they say, and/or give them an undistracted chance to write, draw, yell, cry, or otherwise express themselves.

      When you feel clear on what the controlling subselves feel and/or need, describe that to them clearly and simply ("You feel hopeless and really scared that weíll never have any real friends - so weíll be alone forever.") Note their reaction. My steady experience is that once such activated narrow-focused subselves feel respectfully noticed and heard (vs. agreed with), they will usually "step aside" from your Self.

      Pause, breathe, and note your thoughts now. If they're something like "I can't do that," "I don't think this will work," "or "Talking to subselves is silly," know that  your protective Cynic, Pessimist, and/or Doubter subselves are on the job. Affectionately acknowledge them, and mentally ask them to let your Self decide whether this inner-focusing technique is worth experimenting with.

      Another powerful parts-work technique is...

  Re-doing a Prior Trauma

      A 40-ish therapy client Iíll call Jack had been abandoned early by his (psychologically-wounded) mother, raised by a highly critical grandmother and uncle, and spent most childhood years in two stern Midwestern Catholic schools. We were working toward healing his anxiety, distrusts, and pervasive shame.

      Over time, Jack had evolved comfortable awareness of about 15 subselves, including a frightened, lonely pre-teen boy part he called "Little Jack". He also discovered a powerful adult male Guardian he named "Billy", who reminded him of an iron-strong, resourceful character in the movie "The Dream Team". These parts had become quite real to Jack.

      In one session, Jack tearfully described a powerfully shaming fifth-grade experience. Heíd been called up in front of two combined classes to recite a poem which he had not memorized. As this became obvious, the nun in charge sarcastically ridiculed and mocked him, took him by the ear, and led him past his smirking classmates into a coatroom at the back of the room.

      There (as he remembered), she continued to belittle him loud enough for all to hear, and at one point angrily slammed his head against the wall. It was a shattering experience, in part because when he told his grandmother later, she angrily said "Donít you whine to me, young man - you must have deserved what you got!"

      Jack could not recall having ever felt protected or valued as a child. This was having a major (negative) effect on his current adult relationships.

      He (his Self and all vocal parts) courageously agreed to try re-living the old poetry-class trauma in a new way. I asked "who would you like to protect Little Jack from the shaming he received?" The bearded, slender man thought. "Iíd like Billy, ... my Self, and ... you" (Iím 6í 1" and 215 lbs). I warmly agreed.

      Jack got quiet, went inside, and focused on the memory of the old classroom full of students. I suggested he take all the time he needed to note the details: the sounds and smells, the colors, the temperature and time of day, the feel of the chair he was sitting in, and what he was wearing.

      He described these clearly, in a quiet voice. I asked Jackís Self to stand in the cloakroom with Billy and me, first looking at us, then out at the class. He did, describing us two men and then seeing the back of Little Jackís head, and the teacherís features, voice, and actions. He named several of the students in the class, and recalled hearing a distant bell.

      The scene unfolded, as it had countless times in Jackís memory - shaming him anew each time. This time, however, when the woman dragged the shaking boy into the coatroom, she met three grown men there. Jack had said earlier he wanted Billy to take the lead. He did - sternly confronting the surprised teacher. Billy told her to let go of Little Jack, and put his arm around the boy.

      Jack, his eyes closed, spoke in Billyís powerful voice in the therapy room. It was notably deeper and stronger than the voice he usually used. He spoke to the nun real time, telling her that she was abusing Jack, and that he would not tolerate that - now or ever again. Jack described her as protesting righteously and indignantly. I asked him "What would Billy say?"

      Billy (in Jackís words) firmly told her to go back in front of the class and apologize to them and to Little Jack for what sheíd done. She fumed and resisted, and he re-asserted. "Howís Little Jack?" I asked. "Heís stunned! Heís just standing next to Billy with his mouth open."

      Eyes still closed, the man on my couch described the woman going to the front of the class and apologizing haltingly. At Billyís demand, she introduced him, me, and Jackís Self to the children, and said that weíd come to "take care" of Jack. Billy told her and the class "Iím going to be around from now on. If you donít believe that, just test me out."

      Jack the real man was crying on my couch, and shaking his head as he described this new outcome to the hateful old experience. After a few minutes of quiet and collecting, he opened his eyes. I asked what he was aware of. "Little Jack feels different. I feel different! Iíve never felt anything like that before in my life..." He seemed awed. I said "Your Self and mine just led us in re-doing a powerful shaming experience you've remembered all these years."

      You can do this with any painful memory you choose, if you prepare well and all your subselves feel safe enough. Note that not all re-doings are as dramatic as Jackís...

      In later sessions, we re-did several other shaming and terrifying experiences that Jack recalled - including him at five years old finding his gruff, scary uncle dead in the man's bedroom. Some months later, (adult) Jack spontaneously described these re-doings as "life-changing" events for him. Prior to the re-doing, Little Jack had lived in the past, believing he was all alone. Later, he shifted to living in the present with Jackís other subselves - his newfound (and first) nurturing family.

      This example shows the main steps in re-doing. The purpose of this inner-family technique is to give a wholistically-healthier outcome experience to remembered traumatic events. This is not magic, and it obviously doesnít change the past. Re-doing can be a powerful healing technique, in proportion to your abilities to own your subselves (accept their reality), and to immerse yourself in key past events.

Re-Doing Steps

      Become thoroughly clear on all these steps before you consider a re-doing. Preparation is essential - e.g. the example above took at least 10 hours of inner-family sessions, plus Jack's "homework" experiences, over almost three months.

     1)  Over time, clearly establish the identity and traits of each of your key subselves. Work patiently to reduce any subselvesí ambivalence or doubt about all your partsí reality and normalcy;

     2)  If necessary, adjust your parts-work beliefs to include the real possibility that this can be a safe new feeling (vs. mental) experience. Adjusting your beliefs can mean working with one or more Kids or Guardians to have them unblend, (above), and trust that your Self and other Managers, your Higher Power, and any consultants you're using, will keep everyone safe, and no one will lose their importance.

     3)  Identify the specific young subselves that carry your terror, shame, distrust, rage, and loneliness. Over time, help them meet and accept your Self, other subselves (like Billy, above), your Higher Power, and any outer-family nurturers (like me, above). When it feels right, pick one or a few Inner Kids to work with in a re-doing experience, and prepare:

     4)  Focus on a childhood or adult trauma that affects the young subself. A "trauma" is any event that caused you (vs. someone you were with) intense emotional + physical + spiritual pain, injury, terror, confusion, loss, and/or overwhelm. Focus on one specific trauma at a time - not on (for example) "my whole rotten fourth-grade year" or "the summer vacation from hell." 

     5)  Build a (small) imaginary re-doing team. Identify one or more trusted strong, nurturing subselves. These are usually, but not always, adults. Consider including spiritiual subselves, and any special real or mythical hero/ines as possible members of your team. Also consider safe professional helpers, and key trusted, well-grounded, outside partners, friends or kin. See if each candidate subself (a) knows the young part/s you've chosen, and (b) is willing to participate in a re-doing experience with them. Respect any response.

     6)  Inside and outside, everyone get clear on why youíre going to re-do the selected traumatic memory, and generally how. Who will do the talking or lead the action? Whatís the main job of each team member? In the example above, Jackís Self was the delegating leader. He and "I" were there for backup and moral support, while Billy was the lead asserter.

       Recall - these are steps to follow in the parts-work technique of "re-doing."

     7)  Avoid planning to kill, harm, or abuse any "bad" people in the remembered event. This technique is not about fostering violence or revenge as a way of healing and problem solving. Re-doing is about you experiencing healthy limit-setting, respectful assertion, and loving nurturance and effective protections.

     Step 8)  The first times you prepare to re-do, check carefully to see if there are any Guardians who are protectively catastrophizing, moralizing, guilt-tripping, or wanting to sabotage the project. If so, work with each one patiently to gain their trust and support. Appeal to them to trust you (your Self), and to just try re-doing to see what happens.

      If any subself too scared by re-doing, donít force it. Work respectfully and patiently with them to find a safe-enough way for them to try this learning experience. Encourage a calm, open-minded "letís see what happens" attitude among all team members, vs. expecting "miracles" or "catastrophes."

     9)  Pick a safe comfortable, distraction-free place and time to have the experience. Ideally, your site should be one where - if needed - you can yell or cry without worrying about disturbing other people. Weigh the pros and cons of being in the same location as the original trauma, if that's an option. Allocate enough time, including time afterward to debrief and integrate your experience. If you need some resources (journal, stuffed animal, water, background sounds, tissue, tape recorder), gather them.

     10)  When it feels right, let your young subselves know in advance generally what youíre doing, and why. Note their reactions, answer questions, and agree on how to involve them - including as observers, vs. participants. Offer appropriate reassurances. Option - call an inner council meeting (p. 6) so everyone knows what's going to happen, who's in charge, and why.

     11)  If youíre using an outside helper, get clear together on his or her role/s. Do you want them to actively coach? Silently support? Be careful about physical closeness and contact - even reassuring touching can distract from your inner re-experience.

     12)  Breathe well. Get centered (check for Self symptoms), close your eyes if you wish, focus on the remembered image of the traumatic event, and invite your team members to "be there." Play out the event, and have your lead subselves generate a safer, more satisfying outcome together. Take your time. Allow anything to happen that "wants to." If your Observer and/or Analyzer subselves want to comment as the re-doing unfolds, ask them to wait until youíre finished.

     13)  When everyone involved feels "done enough," return your focus and energy to your real-world setting. Breathe well, stretch, and get back into your body. Debrief your inner family and any outer helper/s when you feel centered. Note specially how your Inner Child/ren seem to be. Recap what you did, why, and what you experienced. Ask yourself objectively "What am I aware of now?" and (later) "What did I (we) learn here?" Check with any skeptics to learn their reactions without arguing or explaining. 

      Recall: other than these preparation guidelines, there is no "right way" to re-do. There are only new experiences, awarenesses, and learnings. If "nothing" seemed to happen, or if you were distracted by "mind-racing,"  "blankness," or "feeling nothing," learn from these reactions. Seek to identify what parts are linked such reactions, like a protective Blocker or Numb-er, and work patiently to gain their trust and co-operation.

     Step 14)  Thank and appreciate any subselves and helpers involved in each re-doing, as appropriate. Be aware that some healing reactions may evolve later. If it fits, journal or tape record commentary soon after a re-doing experience for later reflection. Invite all your parts to comment, including physical sensations, pictures, sounds, images, and new awarenesses...

      After any inner-family experience, notice nonjudgmentally where your thoughts and feelings are. Is your Self guiding your inner family now? Coach yourself to practice this re-doing technique without needing to be perfect. Each time you do, you'll increase your wisdom, skill, and confidence.

+ + +

      We just reviewed the powerful parts-work technique called re-doing - internally re-experiencing of a remembered trauma and intentionally promoting a healthier outcome. The goal of most re-doings is to relieve one or more Inner Kids of their old burdens of terror, guilt, shame, and hopelessness, and to help them express what they couldn't express in real life.

      Pause, breathe, and take stock - can you think of any old or recent traumas that repeatedly cause your subselves significant inner pain? Can you imagine planning and trying a corrective re-doing? If not (yet), who's in the way?

      Another powerful parts-work technique is...

Rescuing Subselves Living in the Past

      Most of the people I've done parts work with have discovered one or more subselves who believe they're living in a past traumatic (e.g. childhood) time. Initial inner interviews should routinely include your Self or outer consultant asking "Can you tell me what year it is? Trust your first response..." - and being prepared for something like "1976."

      My clinical colleagues report the same experience with most of their parts-work clients. Inner-family harmony, security, and serenity grow as all subselves choose to live together in the present time. This powerful technique facilitates achieving that safely.

      As a logic-worshipping left-brained (unrecovering) ex-engineer, I was skeptical when I first heard this inner-family concept - i.e. my protective Skeptic activated. After practicing and experiencing parts work since 1992, I now believe that most survivors of significant childhood trauma have one or more subselves who need to distort reality and live "back then."

      Such parts are typically Inner Kids and perhaps their devoted Guardians. Because these subselves lack clear perspective on what was vs. what is now, their reactions to current life events can cause significant stress and blending.

      The good news: with patience, compassion, and sensitivity, such misinformed subselves can be helped to permanently migrate and join their other subselves and host person in the present.

      Before reading how, notice your reactions to the idea of rescuing some subselves living in the past. If you have a skeptical or cynical inner voice, acknowledge it affectionately. Itís probably a steadfast Guardian working to shield your Inner Kids from unsafe risk. Muse a little - if you do have one or more subselves who live in the past, who would they be? Is there a risk in discovering them? What? How might your life feel different if they joined you all in the present? Intuition counts here.


      My experience is itís unwise to try rescuing too soon in the flow of your parts work. Give yourself plenty of time to get familiar with your parts roster and to learn how to communicate well with your inner team - specially with your Nurturer/s and other Managers. Allow time to evolve your own comfortable style of doing this work. Effective partsí rescues hinge on patiently establishing inner trusts, safeties, and realistic expectations.

      If you suffered major early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma), it may take weeks of parts work before you (all) feel ready to rescue subselves living in the past. If youíre uncertain, listen for the clear guidance of your "still, small voice." Trust and follow it!

Recognizing "Absent" Subselves

      The biggest clues that an unaware subself is absent (living in the past) are notably inappropriate reactions to certain current inner and outer events, like weeping or rage "attacks," situational amnesia, and some physical reactions. These behavior patterns are often mis-described as obsessions, compulsions, impulses, addictions, "mood disorders," and denials, rather than symptoms. For example:

Despite her partnerís verbal and behavioral assurances, a woman canít quell major fears that he really doesnít love her and will eventually choose someone else. Her insecurity, distrust, and jealousy increasingly strain their relationship;

A clearly successful salesman canít acknowledge or enjoy his achievements, and feels relentlessly driven to "do better!";

A mother is constantly overanxious about her competent grown daughterís welfare, and remains intrusive, controlling, and enmeshed with her despite her daughterís exasperated pro-tests and growing resentment;

A young father swears heíll never abuse his children the way his own father did - yet despairingly acknowledges "Iím blowing up just like Dad did!"

An attractive single woman cycles thru repeated approach-avoid relationships. "Something goes wrong" before or after engagement, and she always breaks up, despite longing for marriage and her own home and family.

An experienced, well-trained marketing executive develops an embarrassing stutter when she makes follow-up calls to some new male clients. Her efforts to control the stutter fail;

A single woman in her 30ís reports a recurring strong feeling of dread around mid-afternoon, and a powerful compulsion to "get home" - though thereís no practical reason to do so;

A grandfather describes a recurring life-long nightmare of being attacked in a forest by unseen wild "things" and being unable to run or hide.

      Generally, any time a person has significantly self-disturbing, self-harmful, or self-limiting behavior patterns, they probably have one or more subselves living in the past. Though they experience life as it once really was, their reactions can have major disturbing effects in the present.

Options / Steps

      Any bells ring here? If so, what can you do? Hereís an overview:

1)  Choose an attitude of patient, positive expectancy about rescuing any absent subselves;

2)  Identify a stressful behavior trait, and seek one or more related subselves who cause it;

3)  Identify and build trust with any subselves guarding the absent one/s;

4)  Imagine an inner haven or sacred location in the present. Imagine it vividly; and practicing "being there;"

5)  Decide whether one or more Re-doings (above) are appropriate;

6)  Brief all your subselves, and patiently help the absent one visit - and eventually relocate to - your a safe internal place in the present. Introduce and integrate the relocated part with other inner family members over time.

      Hereís more detail on each step:

Rescuing: 1) Pick a Behavior Pattern, and Seek a Subself that Promotes It

      Look for a self-limiting or self-harmful behavior pattern (see examples above). Write or say as specifically and objectively as you can what the pattern is - ideally in a phrase or one sentence: e.g. "Iíve always been afraid to express my hurt, anger, and frustration to my Father," or "I have recurring sleep problems."

      Get quiet and undistracted, focus inside, and (your Self) ask the part or parts who "cause" or "know about" the target behavior to identify themselves. Your invitation might sound like "Will the one who interrupts my sleep please show itself now in some way?" If more than one part appears, acknowledge each one, and work with one at a time.

Rescuing: 2) Identify and Befriend Guardians

      Before your Self can meet an absent part (usually an Inner Child), one or more suspicious Guardians will often intervene. Until they (a) know and trust your Self and any outside helpers involved, and (b) clearly understand what youíre trying to do, and why, theyíre likely to repeatedly interfere with your rescue attempts.

      Such Guardians often fear that if the Inner Kid/s they protect "leave" (the past) or are effectively cared for by another subself (like your Nurturer), theyíll "lose their jobs." If youíve ever been in a work situation where you felt your position was about to end, you can empathize.

      Recall that providing effective protection is each Guardianís sole purpose in life. If one stubbornly hinders your rescue plan, Be compassionate (vs. angry, impatient, or critical) - for they may see the sure outcome of your plan as their own "death" or demotion.

      As you first seek to identify and meet an absent part, be alert for a Guardian who ''blanks' ' you  ("My subself wonít respond"), or who causes feelings other than compassionate interest about the absent one -  e.g. major dread, anxiety, or thoughts like "That part causing my overeating is really stupid! I wish s/he were dead!"

      If you encounter a blocking, numbing, and/or sabotaging Guardian subself, respectfully invite it to identify itself. Through inner dialog, imaging, or other means, learn what it expects and fears. Their fears are likely to be catastrophic, vague, irrational, and emotional, vs. realistic, like "All hell will break loose!;" or "Youíll get sick and go crazy!"

      Respect such doubts and fears, avoid explaining, lecturing, and "reasoning" with the fearful part, and work patiently to replace their fear and doubts with tentative trusts in your Self and other Managers. If appropriate, reassure each obsessive (i.e. frightened) Guardian that their energy and talents are unique and valuable, and that there will always be an important role for them to play in your Inner family. If appropriate, invite them to help plan and be part of (not lead) the rescue. Assess whether they may be living in the past too. If so, switch to rescuing them first.

      If a Guardian projects negative judgments about a suspected or known absent part, affirm the Guardianís feelings ("You really feel that part is worthless and dumb"). Then respectfully and firmly ask them to step aside (above). If they balk, listen to and affirm them again, then reassert. Invite them patiently to talk about their opinions and fears, and listen (vs. argue, reason, discount, threaten, etc.). Listening is not necessarily agreeing. If their judgmental feelings persist, refocus on this Guardian, and defer the rescue exploration.

"Rescuing" steps continue on p. 5...