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My resistance to doing ifs and more

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Justmehere, May 3, 2018.

  1. Justmehere

    Justmehere Defying the odds Moderator Premium Member

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    This is a long post... I’m frustrated and maybe getting this out will help and maybe someone out there has an idea or thought to get through...

    I am wrestling with applying Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy and the idea that all people have parts, or rather, ego states, to the practical reality of my own recovery.

    I get the theory. Makes sense. I did internal dialogue work and letters to my younger self a couple of years ago in an intensive PTSD program, and it really helped. Tremdously settling and helpful in a way that’s hard to describe. I could ground out of being super triggered and stay a very grounded adult person by sitting and journaling what I would write or say to me as a 5 year old being triggered by what was going on around me as an adult or about what happened to me as a kid.

    When I left the intensive treatment, my therapist suddenly quit, two trusted friends were jerks, my family went back to pretending I didn’t exist, some big losses happened.... it was a bad year.

    The walls I worked so hard to bring down went back up. I also lost the ability to do what I did in that intensive treatment.

    Over the past few years, I’ve made a lot of decent progress in every area of my battle with PTSD.

    But there are a few “stuck places” (as my therapist says. She’s right.)

    She keeps pointing to IFS and connection with her while working with certain triggers and trauma as the solution. We both agree I have a not well integrated ego states (or non-DID parts.) One that is developmentally like a feisty teenager and another that is young, like being than 8.

    As of the last session with her, just this week, I can now sit in the younger ego state with her.

    My experience of it:

    In the middle of processing childhood trauma, my tone of voice changed. My guest urges changed. I’m felt very small. I felt regressed. I haaaaated it. I never lost my adult self. I just hated feeling that way.

    A few months ago, my therapist asked me once in the past to name my parts. I said no. Just no. Those ego states don’t have names. She said that was more than ok.

    But the really young ego state, that holds a lot of anger and fear. It leaks out sideways. Last night, I felt pissed. Not at all like I was in that young place, but when I step back, my anger was more fitting for a kid rather than an adult.

    I was close to a relapse in 57 different maladaptive ways of coping and SO tired of fighting myself and my symptoms. So I gave up and tried an IFS approach and remembered a letter I wrote in treatment. I was pretty ok pretty quick, and walked out the door and lead a very adult workshop. No relapse. I later emailed my therapist (I can email knowing she won’t respond but will talk about it in session) that I wanted to call that place my nickname as a kid. Because it’s part of my name. It’s all part of me. That’s what I didn’t like about naming it. It’s me. It’s not someone else.

    After a crappy day full of triggers and stressors, I’m back in that place same irritated place again today, and I’m hitting the stuck place. I can’t do it. I can’t find the whatever in me to talk to myself like a good parent would to an upset traumatized child.

    Instead I’m just pissed and exhausted and avoidant and isolating.

    I feel so frustrated with being so stuck. If I have to stand in my head and call myself a bananna to get better and on to doing more of what I want to do in life, FINE. I’ll do that.

    But I don’t have to do that.

    All I have to do is find the whatever in me to talk to myself like a good parent would to an upset traumatized child. It may not work but damn it, the current onslaught of frustrated self abusive thoughts isn’t working.

    Why am I resisting this?

    Yes, I have other ways to cope, but they only go so far. The whole time it’s like I’m limping. When I just deal with this head on, it’s like things settle out so much better.

    How do I move forward? I’m so freaking exhausted.
     
    Sietz, scout86, Ronin and 1 other person like this.
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  3. MyWillow

    MyWillow Well-Known Member

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    As someone who is also “freaking exhausted” I don’t think that’s the best time to be trying to force progress. Maybe just allow yourself a little space, some comfort, some quiet time. I think I resist when I don’t feel safe. Not sure if that helps at all. Take good care xxx
     
  4. Ronin

    Ronin Dark Wings Premium Member

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    ^^ That.

    My first thoughts were, rest and recoup, too.
    And / or, can you do smaller parts of this, something like> Dear younger me, I cannot talk to you right now. I would really like to, but I am fricking exhausted, so this is going to go on hold, get back to you soonest.

    Just leaving the channel open, if not talking.
     
  5. Justmehere

    Justmehere Defying the odds Moderator Premium Member

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    Fair point.

    The thing is, what is exhausting me is the current state of things. (It’s not sustainable in many ways.) When I was able to apply IFS, that’s when the exhaustion improved.
     
    hithere, ladee, Orange Phone and 3 others like this.
  6. MyWillow

    MyWillow Well-Known Member

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    Totally get that BUT there are other coping mechanisms to deal with the fatigue...today I’ve quarantined the entire day for myself. Slept in. Lit a fire (it’s Autumn here). Making tea and porridge. And catching up on a few bills and phone calls when I feel able. Making a plan for some self-care on Sunday afternoon. Maybe Monday also as I am traveling for work for a week after that. I have a habit of filling up my days....it’s biting me on the arse when I’m also being flooded with stuff.
     
    hithere, ladee, Orange Phone and 2 others like this.
  7. Ronin

    Ronin Dark Wings Premium Member

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    Do you remember what and how you got into that mindset?
    I sometimes try with things I did then that are still accessible, it just sucks when I hit a wall even with those, or realize there has been too much change and the then me just is not there, at all, no good poking.
     
    hithere, ladee, Junebug and 1 other person like this.
  8. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    Maybe it would be ok to let that "part" express itself right now? (In writing, not by screaming, yelling, and throwing things, although I guess that's an option too.)

    I don't know a lot about good parenting, but I've watched people who seem to be good at it. Sometimes they listen too, even if the kid isn't making much sense.
     
    hithere, Sietz, ladee and 2 others like this.
  9. Sideways

    Sideways I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    We don’t use IFS in our trauma program. But we do a lot of Healthy Adult work. The gist is that we basically have little traumatised kiddies inside us that need a healthy parent to raise them.

    But the deal is that a healthy adult? Needs to look after themselves, as well as their inner child. When we’re distressed, it’s not always our inner child that’s the cause. Sometimes it’s our Healthy Adult has their stress cup full and needs to do some self-care.

    Just like when you’re out with a kid, and everything starts going pear-shaped and tantrums break out. A healthy adult is going to stop, check in with kiddo, and sort out kiddo’s issues. But sometimes, kiddo is travelling along okay, they’re just getting strung out because Healthy Adult? is no longer Healthy, and is more like Super-stressed Adult. Being Healthy Adult means identifying not just that there’s distress, or that our needs aren’t being met. It means being able to identify “Which one of us has the issues here?” Inner Child can have issues all by themselves that need attending to. But Inner Child is also gonna get distressed if Healthy Adult isn’t Healthy.

    So, sometimes, we stick Inner Child in front of their favourite movie and take a long hot bath, or whatever it is we need to do to help Healthy Adult keep being healthy. Then you come back to kiddo, check in with them, and reassure them that everything is okay.

    One of the issues with deciding “Yes, I have an inner child that needs care and love and protection”, is that it can become almost like an excuse to stop looking after ourselves in a genuine way. All the schemas that we have about “I don’t deserve self compassion” can get neatly avoided by Inner Child concept. Conceptually, it’s okay to be compassionate to my inner child, because I don’t need to be compassionate to me, just my inner child. Which is a weird concept to wrap your head around, but is sometimes the reason that Inner Child work doesn’t actually make it any easier to be compassionate to yourself as well...

    Even though you’re looking after your Inner Child, are you actually okay with looking after You as well? Or is self-compassion still a hurdle?

    Just a thought.
     
    Mach123, Idaho, DogwoodTree and 14 others like this.
  10. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

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    You are resisting because you have a protector part that is blocking progress. At this point you need to get to know the part, ask the part what it needs, and give the part what it needs. Assure the part that self can handle this and that it’s ok for the part to step down. It may take less than a day or many months for the part to step down. It sounds like this part is protecting your younger parts, for whatever reason.
     
    Justmehere and hithere like this.
  11. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

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    Just gotta say @Sideways... love and adore that whole concept.
     
  12. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

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    Is it that’s it’s IFS - I find myself very resistant to manualised or alphabet soup therapies so would push back on that basis alone.

    I wonder if thinking of it as an expression of self compassion might help. Think about how you’d comfort anyone who was upset, angry, tearful, tired etc. We generally adopt a gentler, softer tone of voice, we might physically comfort them, offer empathy, look for ways to help. The idea of working with parts has become very fashionable - outside of a formal diagnosis of DID it gives us an accessible way to understand the different thought patterns and process them but at its bottom line what we’re actually doing is offfering ourselves some compassion, some space to feel however we feel.

    I don’t do IFS, helpful as it is for some folk I don’t like it and I don’t find it helpful to label different aspects of my own personality. It’s all me, I have conscious awareness of the times I feel very young, of the times I feel protective of myself, the times I feel resistance in my therapy. I’m not a different person or identity and I think starting to name parts etc can give that aspect of ourselves a power all of its own and keep us stuck.

    I do recognise I have different aspects to myself, like a diamond with different facets that show at different times. I know there are times I can feel very young and really just need a blanket and some tv, or a good cry. Emotionally I’m very young at times so I give myself some room when I know something is going to be emotionally demanding. I don’t specifically address “parts” of myself but I will try to identify what it is I need and give myself space for that. Sometimes that means negotiating with myself (I need some time to colour in, but I need to make dinner and feed the kids - I’ll make a quick meal and give myself 5 mins, or will promise myself some time when they go to bed).

    The purpose of IFS isn’t to permanently sustain a series of “parts”, it’s ultimately to help you as an adult recognise what you need in the moment and to permit yourself to meet that need. That might be referred to as integration but really it’s about you offering yourself the same care and compassion you’d give to anyone else - adult or child.

    Maybe instead of writing to a “part”, journaling what you’re feeling, what you think you need (however bizarre it may feel) and agreeing you can give it to yourself might help. If there’s an age or a life stage attached to the feelings, say so (“when I feel this sad it comes from a very young place, I almost want to be held like a small child, I can comfort myself by ....). That recognises those young feelings without creating a whole personality system around it.

    I don’t know if that’s helpful but I does help me without getting into IFS. Of course, if the resistance is to self compassion in its own right then that’s what you need to work on and that’s nothing to do with parts and everything to do with trauma response generally.
     
    piratelady, Buteo, Zoogal and 8 others like this.
  13. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    I have to agree with this on the basis that the whole repertoire of human emotions is what I expect to experience regardless of age. The primary difference to childhood however being that not until adolescence- or years later with gifted children- do our brain cells get pruned down and executive functions become established and honed. But just as feeling so-called 'childlike' (emotions) does not make an adult a child, neither does being 'adult' very young make a child an adult.

    I see no reason why emotions like vulnerability, honesty, tenderness, gentleness, trust, hope, awe, wonder, expressiveness etc- or conversely, rebelliousness, selfishness, irritability or any other emotion we may equate to children, be limited to that developmental age. But it is what we do with it as adults now that counts, how we we understand it, because we have the executive functions of an adult. It is our histories and interpretations that change the story or our understanding about it, but our feelings are as valid as they ever were. I don't 'feel' different than many times as a child. I too can equate it to times as a child. But I am responsible for what to do with feelings. I also don't think adults without my history never experience the same feelings, nor do I believe the feeling itself is childish. I think adults can view vulnerability or gentleness for example as naive, out of touch, or clueless or 'slow'. But really, is it not quite brave and potentially very rewarding if one can extend that voluntarily and have it valued? Seems to me as humans we spend a lot of our 'adult' life half alive and never able to drop our guards or defences.

    If you deserve self-compassion, you should give it to yourself. In spades. :hug:

    I think that is most beautifully said ^^^, and true.
     
    DogwoodTree, Zoogal, Sideways and 4 others like this.
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