On the first day of 2024 a new year begins. At PARTS & SELF we hope it will be a useful year for us all, full of good things and helpful inputs, aiming towards being well. But, not all of us are safe. With humility we acknowledge those of us who are not safe right now and who are too busy attending to securing basic needs, for talk of well-being. We wish them a change in whatever challenging and upsetting circumstances they might face.
If you are reading this and you are not safe and facing trouble, please know this is a space that acknowledges you and what you are facing. We are not interested in keeping silences and indeed, when and where it is safe, hope you can speak with those who care. And we hope you are getting your basic needs met, so that the luxury of attending to trauma can happen.
The first day of 2024 is a fitting metaphor for what Internal Family Systems (IFS) offers. IFS is a beginning for all traveling forwards, into their inner world, to experience their life. Across the spectrum, from the beginner in using the Schwartz et al invented IFS model/s to those insightful experts who invented – or found – the concepts inherent in this model throughout history, IFS can be a handy, good place to start or conduct new chapters in a journey towards inner well-being. It is like a guidebook. Not “the city” itself; not the actual getting on the train or bus, or walking the streets to find, and see, and experience. Not the landscape. But to speak of Parts and Self is a good help to getting around and knowing what to expect when you arrive and are discovering yourself, in the territory that is you. In other words – and this is my claim perhaps and some may agree and some may disagree – IFS is useful for the real work. Experiencing. IFS guides us towards experiencing ourselves, within. But IFS is not the real work and we do not experience IFS. We experience ourselves and where we are in space and time, or whatever. With the help of guidance. IFS is a helpful guide indeed.
That is to say that IFS is nowhere near as important as arriving and seeing and getting to know ourselves. What matters, fundamentally, is, and always will be, each and every person and whether – and how and to what end – the outcomes of their journeys within matter to them.
We could go our whole lives long never lifting our heads to see the view, never knowing how to travel. The specific guidebook of IFS invites and suggests that getting started, looking up, seeing this view, that view, more views – travelling in our inner world – is worthwhile. IFS helps us notice.
As we move forward into 2024, I wish all readers of PARTS & SELF well and I wish each and every one of us, especially, the safety to travel within. I extend my appreciation to the Foundation for Self Leadership whose vision it is to publish this magazine where we can celebrate, engage with, and challenge IFS, as it is right to do with anything that we use in the vulnerable space that is “us.” PARTS & SELF seeks to be a platform for debate. The Foundation publishes this platform without charge to readers, so that everyone, independent of financial capacity, can access IFS help, news and matters of community interest. Everyone should be empowered and enabled to travel within.
My current personal editorial note regarding IFS as model is to say: I’m not interested in being fashionably or appropriately or forcibly “in Self,” or “Self-led,” nor to notice or comment on who is Self-led or who is in Self, or full of Self. I invite us to consider that such talk belongs only to a religion. Each inner world is incomparable and not for judging.
Furthermore should IFS “talk,” vocabulary and all its useful concepts (which are found elsewhere in various forms, across time) become a dogma to live by, well, then there is no new paradigm of, or for, IFS healing. It all becomes a lie that a new paradigm is to hand – I don’t think it should be or needs be seen as false promise. But that depends on us and how we behave with Parts and Self concepts in mind and with each other. I am yet to met a person interested in IFS who is not interested in thinking and feeling and being and doing things in a new way. Let’s be honest: we think the current paradigm isn’t sufficiently kind and we are glad to touch on something with a non-pathologising spirit. To this end we need to be really careful what we do with IFS as a guidebook and not imagine it is a morality. It is just a book and no holy text. We ourselves are the holy text, should one exist.
What I am definitely interested in is the journey within and the help we might all get with journeying that the start IFS gives does afford. Occasionally arriving somewhere truly beautiful (within) is a wonderful way to live.
Editor, PARTS & SELF