GRACE PRINCIPLE FIVE: all parts of me are acting for my well-being.
KEY PRACTICES: using parts language to enable accountability, finding the gifts of messy parts.
Embracing wholeness is tricky. How can I embrace my wholeness when it feels like some of my characteristics, or parts of me, cause harm to others, to myself, and to my sense of well-being?
Most people can relate to the feeling of having parts or characteristics that seem to work in opposition. Some work for our good, while some seem to work against us. For example, I might say I can be so clueless or stupid at times, yet I am also decently intelligent or wise. Or, there is this very gentle part of me, yet I get into a rage once in a while. I can get things done, but I'm also such a procrastinator! Etc.
Our inner voice will often make us all one or the other in the moment: I am (all) stupid (bad), or I am smart (good), or I am chill and peaceful (good), or I am out of control (bad). I am all one or the other depending on the situation. It can be very confusing. Who am I really? Why do I feel so messy and broken at times?
Naturally, our instinct is to want to get rid of, let go of, or fix, the parts of us that we consider unhelpful, wrong or bad. We learned early in life that these ugly parts aren't accepted, by parents, friends, society in general. The world only wants the comfortable and good parts of me. So to be accepted and to belong those unlikeable parts have to go!
When my inner voice declares, in a messy moment, I am all bad, it is a pretty bleak sensation. There are physical symptoms and emotions of guilt and blame. We feel broken and incomplete. We feel alone, unseen. And when someone wants me to be accountable for my messy behaviour it is extremely difficult to accept and declare accountability, because that would "PROVE" I am all bad and validate my shame.
So how can we approach this with Grace?
Our initial inspiration for understanding the Grace of parts language came from reading the writings of Peter Gerlach. Jack Schwartz, of IFS, has also built a beautiful therapeutic approach to parts exploration.
Our approach is a little more simplistic and more community focused.
Our way of looking at parts is that each person was born whole, and continues to be whole, but their wholeness is made up of a community of parts or characteristics (like slices of a pie, or individuals sitting in circle) that are tasked with the same goal: keeping me as safe as possible in a chaotic world full of risk and many conditions for acceptance and belonging.
As I, from childhood, am trained and slowly immersed into our culture of hierarchy, separation and invulnerability, through a variety of often traumatic experiences, parts of me start operating in ways that don't take the whole of me into consideration or acceptance. Some, in their natural expression of enthusiasm, of adventure, of curiousity, of foolishness, of fearfulness, of grief, etc, have had to be curtailed or even exiled. Some, in their mandate to protect my sensation of worthiness, take over my actions and behaviour when I experience dread or threat, and then cause harm to others. Some of my more capable parts try everything possible to remain in charge of the whole me, and inevitably fail.
All the parts of me are fighting for my worthiness, but now they are doing it in a chaotic way, rather than as a team of connected "individuals", working together, communicating with and accepting each other, holding and honouring each other, recognizing each other's gifts, contributions and wisdom.
I want to be a community of inner parts working as a whole.
The key to embracing wholeness in self, others and community, is to know that people are not all good or all bad. They may have parts that in their zealous quest for worthiness causes harm, but that is not ALL of them. It is only part of them. And it is part of their beautiful wholeness.
The beauty of using parts language, of imagining my wholeness is composed of many parts, is that is gives me greater access to accountability, to own the impacts I have. If my Disassociator, for example, causes harm to relationships in its skill of disconnection, I can much more own my responsibility for that impact if I know it is only part of me. And that it is attempting to act for my safety.
I can begin to have compassion for the parts of me I don’t like. I can begin to see the positive qualities, or the gifts, they have brought to me. I can welcome them back home, into my inner community circle and give them voice.
To see how inner (parts) communities and outer (social) communities can support each other, CLICK HERE.
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