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  • Writer's pictureLisa Barrett

Is it Really Safe in There? Cautious, Dubious and Vigilant Parts of Us..

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

This is my foster cat, Arwen. She is inspecting a little space inside the wardrobe. She sat there for several minutes doing this. You probably wouldn't guess by the way she appears to be checking it out that she spends at least 12 hours per day in fact she had only left there 5min earlier🤭

Maybe there is a part of you that can be like little Arwen ..second guessing, doubting what you know, even your own (recent!) lived experience?  

If we can be curious about parts of us, such as this.. that keep us dubious, insist on second guessing...then we can begin to find out what they really want for us and what motivates them to do what they do. 

The more we learn about ourselves, the easier life becomes. We are no longer reacting unconsciously or by default so much ..then wondering what the heck we were - or are doing! 

I don't know too much about Arwen's life before I met her 10 weeks ago but it's clear she was hurt. It seems it wasn't  safe for her in the past. She is yet to fully trust that there are no skeletons or danger in my closet..well, not that one anyway! 🚪

We too, have parts of us stuck in the past, living the emotions of moments that the rest of us have either blocked out or long forgotten even happened. Holding memories in our bodies, minds and heart that only they understand the significance of. 

Things/life can be different. There is hope for change. We can hear the story of these parts of us..their reality..and have compassion. 💛

We can introduce ourselves and update them, find out who they are protecting and let them know we can help. Then these parts who work so hard, on high alert, to protect us from danger can feel safe enough to take a rest.. maybe even quit or change jobs!

Like little Arwen,it may take time to gain their trust..but when we do..that is where we can learn their story, their history, hopes and fears. And once we can build trust in our inner family, this is where a healing can really begin.

Once these parts are less active in their roles in our lives then we are more free to move in the world with our natural ease and confidence. 

Internal Family Systems(IFS) helps us to get to know these different parts of us. We can ask what has not been safe for our 'second guessing' part in the past? What makes it so cautious? So dubious? And as we relate and understand ourselves more, we can heal the hurt so that others in our system don't need to work so hard protecting us from pain.


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