The place of Self as healer is pivotal in IFS therapy
Self heals us by creating a loving communication with our various difficult parts, allowing them to be understood for their positive intent, and helping them to transform into true support for our soul. She is the spiritual aspect of who we are, even when it’s not obvious to us that this is so. Thus IFS therapy sits right on the border between psychology and spirituality, seamlessly weaving between the two in an extraordinary dance of healing.
The primary qualities of Self are connectedness, curiosity, calmness and compassion
We find that Self is naturally able to connect with our parts, and they are generally eager to connect in return. This has a lot to do with the fact that they do want to be heard and understood, and She is curious, wanting to know and understand them.
Self is also calm, grounded and unruffled, even in the face of the fear or anger of our parts, so they learn to trust that She will be there for them however they show up.
And Self is unfailingly compassionate to every part of us, no matter how damaged or shamed.
These four qualities, which are also aspects of spirit, all need to be present for healing to occur.
Self is not limited to these qualities
Just as spirit is boundless and can manifest in unlimited ways, Self also is potentially boundless.
Many of the ways in which spirit can manifest are described in the teachings of The Diamond Approach. This spiritual teaching is unusual in that it lists and describes in great detail many aspects and dimensions of spirit, or Essence, many more than have generally been ascribed to Self, or even described in other spiritual teachings. By knowing what these aspects are, we can recognise them as manifestations of both Self and Essence when they show up in IFS therapy.
Just a few of these additional aspects of Essence that my clients have experienced during the course of therapy are:
- joy, lightness and playfulness
- autonomy, strength, aliveness, dynamism and courage
- discrimination, clarity and objectivity
- power, peace, depth and boundlessness
- openness, flow, surrender and support
- goodness and value
- spaciousness, clear space and black space
- clear, white and golden light
- brilliance, intelligence and awareness
- love, acceptance and wisdom
Any of these aspects and more can potentially show up in IFS therapy.
There are two pathways to the arising of these further qualities of Spirit
First is the spontaneous transformation of protector parts into aspects of Essence. A common example is the transformation of a hypervigilent protector into true discrimination. Instead of responding to most everything as though it is a threat, the protector transforms into the capacity to see the truth, and to calmly discriminate what is truly dangerous, and what is not.
Second is the spontaneous transformation of exiles. It is very common for exiles to transform into joy, playfulness and the sheer lightness of being. Another common example is the transformation of an exile’s anger into a sense of strength, clarity and autonomy.
These qualities of Essence are then available to the Self
This allows Her to strengthen, expand and become an even more effective healer. The more aspects of spirit She can integrate, the more She can find exactly the right aspect to heal a particular wound.
Thus IFS therapy is ultimately a spiritual journey. However, it is not exactly a spiritual practice, and cannot take the place of a meditation practice for example. But it can be a wonderful support for a spiritual practice, and is very compatible with most.
Spiritual practices usually teach us to transcend the personality, but that is not always easy. IFS provides an effective method for transforming rather than transcending the personality. It allows us to become our underlying spiritual nature more effectively, easily and permanently. It strengthens our access to spirit, supporting us to become more and more deeply our Essence, or who we truly are.
Thus spirit is both the healer and the destination of our soul’s journey.