Never again, an IFS car part story

Healing yourself, loving the world

I wrote recently about IFS (Internal Family Systems) and how much I’m enjoying the work. I’m taking a six-month certification course that’s pretty intense and am using IFS with about 80% of my clients, so I’m pretty much living and breathing IFS.

Part of my learning is also doing my own work with my parts. I do this in my coursework with fellow students, myself, and Kathy Brown, my IFS practitioner.

The work is stunning, paradigm-shifting, and hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. But this story might help.

The thing about parts is that we don’t know them and what they are experiencing. It’s like each part has a unique perspective, and until we are in a conscious relationship with that part, they have information that’s been hidden from us.

Experiences as children feel so huge – when we see these experiences as adults, we have the resources to regulate and soothe our systems.

So a part and I did some work. She presented initially as a sense of extreme danger and distress and metaphorically presented as a red blinking light up high, vigilantly watching the area around me. I didn’t know what she was connected to or what she was watching for. She would present at different times when I wasn’t in danger, so it was clear she needed some attention.

As I got to know her more, I found out that she was frozen in time from a car accident that I’d been in as a kid. I have no conscious memory of this accident, but this part did, and she was on high alert and felt scared, frozen in time and place at that accident.

After connecting with this part, validating her experience, and updating her to my current age, I told her that she “never, ever, ever” had to ride in a car ever again. In the future, she didn’t have to be present anytime I was in a car. I don’t know how this works, but it does.

I figured we were done, and this part was at ease, but I didn’t really think about any future implications.

A drive that wasn’t stressful
When I ride with my husband, I feel overly tense. He’s a good driver, very skilled, but way more assertive than I am. I’d pretty much resigned myself to feeling stressed when he drives and avoid riding with him, if I’m honest. I feel bad that I’m anxious but have never been able to sort it out. (Yes, even with all the skills I have including tapping.)

Imagine my surprise when we were on the road together yesterday for an hour and I was not stressed. I felt calm and aware. I observed his driving, noted how’d I do things differently, but I wasn’t scared or anxious. I was a bit blown away by how calm I felt.

Imagine what’s possible
I love this story so much as an example of parts work helping us. When I do parts work, it’s never with a specific agenda except for helping the client or myself feel more in harmony with ourselves. We heal the inside and the outside changes in response.

Even though I’ve been working with clients since 2006, and have helped many people, IFS is helping me help people find and heal hidden parts of themselves. The work is easier than expected, and the results are beautiful and stunning. It’s so awesome to be doing this work with people – to have a glimpse into their world as they get to know their parts – magical, wonderful, and loving.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

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Deborah Donndelinger

Deborah Donndelinger

I'm writing from Maryland, but my heart goes out all over the world. I'm cheering you on as you tackle the hard stuff, embrace the easy, and show up to help others.