Lesson 1 of 7  - free your Self to guide you

Unsolicited testimony about
Lesson 1
("parts work")


The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/testimony.htm

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       From 36 years' clinical experience and research, I propose that an epidemic, little-known personal and social stressor is psychological wounds from a low-nurturance ("dysfunctional") childhood. Therefore, the first of the vital Lessons in this Break the Cycle! Web site is devoted to assessing for and reducing these wounds and their toxic effects.

        Lesson 1 differs from other personal-recovery programs by proposing how to intentionally retrain and harmonize the subselves that comprise your personality, using a technique called Inner-family therapy or "parts work."

        I have heard similar spontaneous comments like those below from hundreds of therapy clients, students, and Website visitors since 1992.

 - Peter Gerlach, MSW

"Dear Pete -

      I just wanted to thank you for the information on the sfhelp.org website and share what it has done for me.

      About a year ago a relationship I was in ended badly. I had become to attached to her, had placed too much of my energy on her, and when it ended I was very hurt. After a few weeks of rather severe depression. I had started asking a lot of questions about myself and doing a lot of research on psycho-logy. I have long been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and most of my life have been rather moody. This has never been severe enough to seriously affect my life, but it has left me enjoying life less than I would like to.

      In my search to improve my life, I discovered Buddhism and spirituality systems I had never explored before. These things agreed with me and I delved into the subject as a means to restore meaning and hope in my life. The main message I got from all the reading I did was that the secret was to get in touch with your true self and learn to listen to your thoughts, acknowledge them and learn what they had to say, and then compassionately let them go.

      While I agreed with this and had moderate success, I found that all to often my thoughts and emotions would get carried away and I could not maintain control. I became rather frustrated as I knew *what* I wanted to accomplish but never knew *how.*

      For a while now I have been in a relationship with a wonderful woman, a widow with two children. A few weeks ago we decided to take the next step and move in together. I adore her children and they are very excited about this, but I was curious as to what conflicts might come up and what I could do to help them ease into their new life. That's when I came across the articles you wrote on sfhelp.org.

      Immediately diving into Lesson 1, a lot of things started making sense to me. I noticed that I have often felt conflicted, sometimes unable to figure out how I really felt about a person or situation. Some-times I argue with myself. Sometimes I am fairly self confident, other times insecure. Sometimes I am happy and outgoing, and sometimes I am irritable and want to be left alone.

        I've realized I am this way for a while, but had never been able to make sense of it. Over the past year I have done a lot of meditation, self analysis, and observations through which I have learned a great deal about myself, but never figured out what to do about it, which was very frustrating.

      The concept of Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the only thing I have come across which accurately explains the way I feel and act and gives a concrete technique I can use to work on my problems. Already I have found that it is much easier to gain insight into why I feel certain ways by asking the responsible parts.

        Before I would just sit there and wonder with no idea what was really going on. By simply asking and listening for an answer, I can actually accomplish things! I have a lot of work to do, but your articles have given me hope that things can get better and I can learn to change.

      A few weeks ago was the anniversary of my girlfriend's former marriage, her husband committed suicide last year and needless to say this was a difficult day for her. As we were talking about it, I used some empathic listening with a few guiding questions to find out what she was thinking and feeling. We talked about her inability to grieve, how she sometimes got mad at herself for not being able to get over his death, and how she sometimes felt guilty because she failed him. It became pretty clear that she had conflicting feelings about his death and I decided it was time to share the IFS ideas with her. She was intrigued and wanted to know more.

      I have ordered your book and we have decided to both read it and discuss how it applies to our lives and our relationship. So not only does this have the potential to help my life, but also to help her get over her grief and promote a happier life for us together, as well as her kids.

      The potential this has to improve my life, and the lives of those I care about is wonderful. Thank you again for the research you have done and making that information freely available to everyone."

- Name withheld by request


        Here's another personal reaction to the Inner Family Systems (IFS) approach to wound-healing ("parts work"). This was a follow-up to a brief, unsolicited affirmation of IFS after the author scanned "Lesson 1" in this Web site. - PKG

        "IFS helped me to get to the core of myself. Instead of feeling, or rather believing, that I was the anger or fear, victimized child, or the cold protective person that I had felt much of my life, I realized that underneath all of those feelings I was a confident, creative, strong, centered, calm individual.  Certainly I did have those feeling of anger, victimization, and alienating protection, but they no longer defined who I was or limited my life. 

        I could identify them when I felt them and determine if they were truly relevant for the current situation or were they remnants of the past?  I could speak FOR these feelings, not FROM these feelings.  IFS is client centered/driven.  With the help of the therapist, I was able to free myself. 

      Through the process of unburdening, I freed myself from old beliefs, feelings, and baggage. I could now run my life instead of the deep feelings running my life for me. I wish that this mode of therapy/ healing was more well known and available to everyone.  It is such a gentle, respectful way to heal and move forward in life." - Michelle M., Seattle, WA

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        This is one viewer's response to a slide presentation on personality subselves (now an article):

        Hi: this book (Who's Really Running Your Life?) has to be made available to adults suffering from the effects of a troubled upbringing. As one who has suffered virtually all of my life from the effects of my upbringing, I could not understand how it could still be affecting me at 48 years old. I have read so many self-help books and was really starting to wonder, "What is my problem?" Yes - I had terrible parents in many respects. Even so, how could I explain the constant inertia and relentless conflict within me every time I wanted to take some action?

        While researching on the internet, I stumbled on the slides related to your book. When I read about the (Procrastinator personality subself) and the Guardians, something just clicked - you explained exactly what is going on inside my mind. Nobody else has explained how the mind works to protect itself. That is so much like me.

        This book is needed by chronically troubled adults who experience recurring problems such as weight issues or clutter problems. You need to provide this info to people who are procrastinating or doing some other behaviors ironically as a protective measure. Maybe now, I have a real place to work from so I can heal. I will be buying your book. Thank you.

        One more thing, I just read about your background. It was a surprise to hear that you were an engineer before, and that you were brought up in a troubled home too. But as a person who works with engineers, it explains why you have been able to break down what is really going on in one's mind in a very effective and useful way. Leave it to an engineer to figure out the best way to get something done! Thanks again.

- Anonymous

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         For a variety of materials explaining and illustrating the IFS concept and wound-recovery, see http://www.selfleadership.org/ (books) and these additional references

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