Inner conflict – Part 1
H. writes, ‘I’m very aware that in a Focusing session, there are several parts of me that want a stake in the process! And sometimes at least one of those parts, possibly more, wants things to happen NOW (if not yesterday). How would you suggest addressing this whole scenario of conflicting parts trying to get a piece of the action and trying to drive forward change?’
A. Parts can seem to proliferate in response to something that’s happening in your experience. You might be experiencing some pain around something that is happening in your life, and there maybe several parts of you that have differing responses to that pain. There could be something in you that wants to get rid of the pain, and why wouldn’t you? We could say that of course you want to be rid of the pain.
Pain is not just pain. It connects to other aspects of your life situation, your personality and disposition. How do you deal with pain, or cope with it? Do you tend to fight it, ignore it, try to get rid of it or get angry with it? These are all normal human responses, but they don’t help. They add to our difficulties, even though these parts of us are just trying to help.
For instance, a fictional Jane is facing redundancy. Part is afraid of what will happen to her, and how she could manage. It connects to her teenage years, when she felt she was useless. She is afraid she will be thrown on the scrap heap. And there may be more fears, complicated by past life events and current anxieties.
What is helpful is to turn towards the fearful part, to hear its fears and anxieties. By doing that, you find that it is not all of you, and you can begin to get enough perspective to keep it company with friendliness and curiosity. However, you may not find it easy to do. It might get ‘sticky’, or you find that nothing is moving it forward. This is when you can check if a part of you has difficulty with it being there. There may be a judgemental voice, which is criticising you or the process. And a bossy part that just wants you to get on and change. And an angry part, that is frustrated with the situation and lack of progress. And underneath it all, there may be a very small part, like a frightened child that feels attacked and doesn’t know how to look after itself.
All these parts of you need good company; inner listening in a non-judgemental way. Through that listening, they begin to open up, soften and release. Parts of you that link into past trauma may need you to come back to them, time and again. Each time that you do will release a little more, especially if you act on what they are saying; and you respond to their needs in exactly the way they want. By doing that, what has been stopped can begin to move and carry forward in present time. Not in the exact way it needed in the past, but in the exact way that it needs right now.
More on this next time.