I remember several times in my life where I was flooded with unworth, like there was something wrong with me, like I was missing something that everyone else had figured out. It was a lonely feeling.
At times this feeling was all-encompassing and I could barely tolerate being around others. Other times, it was more subtle and sapped my ability to express myself. Eventually, I learned there was a name for this feeling. Shame.
As I found the right kinds of therapy and healing, I discovered these feelings of shame weren’t me, not who I am at my core. The feelings lived in parts of me who formed very early in my life. Once I understood this simple fact, I realized that I was the only one who could now parent these parts. I am responsible to give myself what my parents could not. Becoming emotionally mature means giving ourselves now what we needed then and did not get. For example, if you’re always looking for validation and feel shame when you don’t get it, you are now the one who needs to discover how to validate yourself and care for the shame.
Whether you find a critical voice or a feeling, both need your compassion to heal. Some of the most profound healing moments for my clients come when they ‘turn towards’ the most worthless feeling inside of themselves and surprisingly are led to a deeper love or a long awaited grief. When you approach a feeling with genuine interest and care, you become the benevolent parent to the part.
Like a parent, we need to be present for our parts, listen to them and seek to understand what they need. When we do this simple act of parenting ourselves, we find that where we once felt bad about who we were we can now love. It’s worth the work to make this shift because our parts won’t stop suffering or acting out until they feel us there with our care and presence.
As an IFS facilitator I help my clients experience more of their essential selves by learning to bring healing to the parts of them who need their love, compassion and curiosity.