4 Ways to Increase Happiness with IFS Therapy
Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) is not simply a way of working in therapy, it's a lifestyle change. IFS helps to, not only heal past emotional injuries, but it becomes a new way of being with yourself and the world. This type of therapy has been proven to be beneficial on many levels and here are 4 specific ways that IFS can help to bring more peace and balance into your life:
1) Calm the internal chaos
Have you ever had the experience of being at war with yourself; when the courage to change is challenged by the fear of doing so? This internal war can become so loud that we miss the opportunities to make positive changes in our lives. Inevitably, our lives progress, evolve, and life presents us with choices that help to shape our future. These choices can be as simple as choosing to eat the last piece of cake or as big as the decision to get a divorce. Internal chaos ensues when instability is lurking. Sometimes, this internal battle is paralyzing, leaving us to question our abilities to make the right decision. IFS therapy can help slow down the internal process in order to understand the underlying fears that derive from past experiences.
2) Cultivate self-compassion
There has been a great deal of research conducted recently on the benefits of self-compassion. It can help with everything from depression to anxiety and beyond. Although it’s been proven to be effective and wildly beneficial, self-compassion is something that doesn’t come easy. Most clients laugh at the initial thought of pursuing self-compassion and making self-care a priority. IFS therapy provides clients with a way to be self-compassionate without feeling like a fraud. IFS therapy helps to create a better relationship with ourselves and tap into the plethora of self-compassion that lies beneath our outer defenses and survival skills. By understanding and creating space for the internal chaos, the possibility arises to lead our lives from a more connected and compassionate place. Self-compassion lies within all of us and IFS gives us the tools to tap into it.
3) Better understand the reasoning behind our actions
Autopilot: we all run on it most days. It involves going through the motions without allowing ourselves to be truly present. We stow our emotions away until they become so heavy we can’t ignore them. With couples, this is formally known as the “nothing-fight;” a fight so nasty over something seemingly so meaningless. A neglected sink full of dishes may be a result of a busy day to one partner, but to the other, is a symbol of disrespect. The more these feelings are ignored and pushed away, the more they build our towers of insecurity; when something as small as an unwashed dish causes it to come crashing down. Our lack of personal connection to our own feelings leads us to react from a place of insecurity as apposed to act from a place of compassion. IFS therapy provides clients with tools to help slow down and be aware of what we are really feeling and how those emotions are rooted in our past unmet emotional needs. By brining compassion to our emotions and creating space for them we can then be more mindful of our decisions and regain control over the direction of our lives.
4) Heal childhood wounds affecting current relationships and functioning
Our pasts don’t often stay in the past, they tend to creep up on us and sneak attack at times we are least expecting. Childhood emotional wounds frequently are at the root of feelings and behaviors we experience as adults. If someone grows up feeling abandoned by a parent, those emotions may fuel arguments with their significant other as an adult. Instead of reacting from a place of the here-and-now, small events can cause a person to react from a younger, more vulnerable place. Instead of your partner just being too busy to load the dishwasher, internally it feels like you are being abandoned all over again. These wounds reopen when current life events resemble the feelings we had as children. IFS helps to uncover these feelings that have been locked away and decrease our likelihood to react from a place of pain.
If you are interested in exploring IFS further, visit my Client Resources page for an introduction video and a link to the IFS introduction book.