Written by: Kylie Feller, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
This pandemic has put a lot of weight on people's minds and bodies. Due to social distancing and the encouragement to stay home people are becoming less and less active. Working from home and not being able to regularly go to the gym or yoga class has impacted people's healthy routines and schedules. Netflix takes up more time along with snacking and unhealthy food choices to help with boredom and anxiety.
The stress of the world has also impacted people's immune systems, slowing them down. When we get stressed and have anxiety our body goes into survival mode which means less energy is going into processing food and helping our bodies work effectively. When we live in anxiety for a very long time and if a coping mechanism for anxiety is the food you can see how this could result in a lot of weight gain fast, even if you are not eating that much as the body just can’t process the same as when you are not feeling stressed.
The thing also is when we start to gain more weight, we often get more critical of ourselves. This means we are also attacking ourselves from the inside, this causes more stress and anxiety, and the body shuts down even further. Then when you try to be healthier or work out you do it from a place of punishment and criticism making it hard to do healthier things and to workout. Can you see how this cycle causes more and more pain making it harder and harder to be healthier?
To break it we need to begin being more compassionate with ourselves to at least begin working on our internal environment to make it easier to deal with the stress on the outside. If we are feeling stress from the outside and inside there is no escape, does that make sense?
Then it helps to understand and befriend your inner critic and the part of you that is using food or other numbing techniques like too much TV as a way to cope. Don’t try to just get rid of these parts it causes more polarization within you often spiralling you further down.
It is also important to remind yourself that your worth is not related to the number of a scale or a certain size of jeans. You are beautiful and worthy just as you are right now! Don't wait for some size or number to determine your happiness and love you have for yourself right now. Parts of you may struggle with accepting this and that is okay to recognize they are parts and then work to help them see you are safe and okay no matter what weight you are and that by criticizing you it is only making it harder to get healthy.
How To Befriend Parts Using Internal Family Systems
We are so used to trying to get rid of or push against parts of us that lead to over-eating or resisting exercise or the things we know are healthy and good for us. What is instead pushing against them what if you turned towards them with curiosity to understand why they are there and what they are trying to protect you from?
What if you took the knowledge that every part of you is trying to protect you from something, what it is trying to protect you from may be present in the past but is being brought up by things in the present. With this understanding would it be easier to get curious and go inside?
Here are 5 steps you can take to begin to understand yourself better, so it does not feel like such a battle to make healthier choices in your life. When we have resistance to certain things it means that parts of us are struggling and need our help and support. Rather than trying to just push through you can begin to understand and support the parts of you that are struggling and offer them healing.
5 Steps to Befriending Your Parts
1. Identify The Part
Choose a part you would like to work with that is related to your health and weight. It could be an inner critic or a part that craves food or a part that resists being healthy.
2. Find the Part
Once you choose a part to work with then invite it to blend with you so you can get to know it better. Notice when you think about this part where do you feel it in your body or head? Maybe you can feel it in the body or maybe you can just visualize it in your mind or just sense that it is around you. There is no right or wrong here just get a sense of it, notice it and focus on it.
3. Get Curious
Once you have found the part in or around your body or mind. Get curious about it. Notice how you feel towards the part in this moment? If you find you want to get rid of it or you hate it see if those parts that are polarized with it will give you some space. You can do this by simply asking these parts inside of you to step back. I like to visualize them taking a seat beside or behind me. See if they will give your heart some space to be open and curious with the part you are working to understand better.
If they can't that's okay figure out what their fears are if they did give you some space? Let them know also they do not have to change how they feel about this part and you are not going to let it get worse by being curious with it, you are trying to help it heal.
4. Start A Dialogue
If you can get some curiosity about the part you want to work with then extend that curiosity towards the part and see if it can notice you there. Once it notices you, you can begin asking it some questions to get to know it better, your job here is simply to listen and sit in open curiosity. If you feel like you know the answer check with the part that you have it right. It might help to write out the responses you get as well or speak them into dictate so you can visually see how they are responding.
How does the part respond to you? Is it curious about you? Is it excited? Standoffish? Angry?
Invite the part to share anything it would like to share with you or show you? It can communicate through words, images, memories, telepathically etc.
What is the role of this part? Ask it directly and wait for the answer.
How old is this part? When was it first created in your system?
Does this part like its job? If it did not have to protect you what would it like to do instead?
What is this part afraid or worried would happen to you if it does not do what it does?
What is this part protecting you from?
How old does this part believe you are? What does this part see when it looks at you? If it does not see you in the present at your age update the part. It's very common for parts to think you are still very young.
Is this part protecting a younger part of you? If it is it might give you permission to work with this part or share more about it.
5. What Does it Need From You?
Once you have gotten to know more about this part and its role in your system and what is it trying to protect you from you can see what it needs from you. Get really clear on this if it says rest or trust for example see what these things look like and mean to this part. Ask lots of follow-up questions, don't assume you know what it means. Stay curious. Whatever it says see if you can authentically begin to work with this part so it is not working alone.
It is easier to work with your system than against it. Beginning to get curious and to go inside will help you be able to progress with your health and happiness. Remember every part of you is trying to help and support you, even when it does not make sense on the outside if you slow down and go inside with genuine curiosity you will find the answers which will open you up to deeper healing.
This line of questioning is part of Internal Family Systems Therapy. If you want to be guided to getting to know different parts of you better here are some guided exercises to help you with this process of going inside and offering healing instead of punishing parts of you. It can also help you have someone trained in this approach to help guide you inside to deeper understanding and healing. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or to share what you find! I share a lot more information and resources on my podcast, Your Best Chance if you want to learn more ways to support your physical and mental health.
Kylie Feller, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kylie Feller, M.A., is a registered clinical counsellor and life coach. She specializes in helping people understand and heal trauma while connecting them to their own innate healing force, their True Self. She believes that there is nothing people cannot heal and that all individuals can thrive and flourish if given the right formula. She has also launched an online program to help individuals navigate dating in a way that promotes greater growth and healing called, Swipe Right into Loving Yourself. She is a trained Internal Family Systems therapist, Empowerment Coach, Akashic Record Coach, Reiki Healer, and Yoga Teacher. She works with individuals one-on-one online helping them to access inner transformation so they can truly succeed in all levels of life.