Energizing a Tired Part – Internal Family Systems

I was working with a client recently on an Internal Family Systems (IFS) exercise. IFS (by Richard Schwartz) is an amazing kind of therapy which involves the use of “parts”. Basically, in IFS, the individual gets to know his or her different parts, which involve protective parts and hurt parts. One of the basic premises of IFS is that the protective parts work to keep the individual living their life without the hurt parts getting hurt more. However, what actually happens is that the protective parts (which were often learned at a young age) can stifle the individual’s growth and keep the individual from achieving his or her goals. Parts Have Conflicting Agendas So while getting to know a few of my client’s different parts, a tired part came forward. My client suddenly felt very tired and didn’t want to keep working. Instead, we agreed to try to get to know the tired part a little better. My client discovered that when anything got too hard or threatened change, a tired part would come up to protect her. Because she’s just assumed she is lazy, she was amazed that being tired was actually a very strategic protective part of her which was keeping her from achieving things she wanted to do. In doing so, it was also protecting her from having to feel pain. IFS Helps Our Parts Cooperate We all have protective parts and hurt parts. When you think, “Part of me feels like this, but another part feels this way,” your parts are vying for your attention. The best way to begin to become aware of your different...

Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

It’s normal, even healthy, to feel anxiety from time to time. It is when anxiety overwhelms you or prevents you from making good decisions that it can be harmful. Understanding the major types of anxiety disorders is often the first step in understanding how to successfully treat anxiety. This article will explain the most common anxiety disorders while subsequent posts will discuss treatment options. The most common way these days to categorize anxiety is to take the DSM-IV’s (published by the American Psychiatric Association) definitions of anxiety disorders. The DSM-IV categorizes anxiety disorders by symptoms and behaviors. A diagnosis can be made if you demonstrate a number of specific symptoms and behaviors over a specified period of time. Generalized Anxiety Disorder The first of these is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. If you have GAD you worry and ruminate endlessly over everyday events as well as over possible (but unlikely) future events. The worries are accompanied by bodily reactions including ongoing feelings of tension and stress and often headaches, stomach upset and sleep disturbances. If you have GAD, you will often have perfectionistic tendencies, take unwarranted responsibility for things in your life (and in the world), seek reassurance frequently and fear making mistakes. Phobias Phobias are extreme fears of specific situations or things. The specific situation or thing (such as a dentist visit or a spider) may cause some or even most people to be cautious or nervous, but the phobic person has a much more intense reaction. If you have a  phobia, you usually develop a strong avoidance to the object of your fear and will often go...

Why Coping with Anxiety Makes Us Anxious

How do we cope with the background factors mentioned in last week’s blog, Causes of Anxiety Disorders? An individual who is sensitive and intelligent will usually develop coping mechanisms to deal with her environment. Following is a list of common responses. A number of these characteristics are highly valued in our society, and this societal affirmation tends to reinforce them. You tend to be very competent …and very dependable You have extremely high self-expectations You have the need to be in control You place a high value on being calm You believe you can handle just about anything You are sensitive to criticism You often see things as black or white You are unaware or in denial of your bodily responses to emotions You pepper your expectations of yourself with “shoulds” In other words, you expect near perfection of yourself. Because it is very difficult, okay, impossible, to perpetually live up to perfection, you become fearful of not living up to these expectations.  All of these high expectations of yourself factor in to intensify your fear of rejection and criticism. And rejection and criticism are more threatening to you then to someone who has a more realistic view of self. Life inevitably presents all of us with stressful situations. The more common of these include work, school, relationships, illness, family and so on. For a person with the above characteristics who has an intense fear of rejection, the stress of most situations is greatly intensified and often seems overwhelming. Our bodies are conditioned to respond to intense stress with the message, “I need a rest”. Those who are aware...