Parts Work is based on the idea that we each have a core Self that is healed and whole, but we also have various subpersonalities or Parts with their own motives, beliefs, and patterns of behavior. When we are acting from our Self, we are calm and compassionate. But we might also have anxious or self-critical or perfectionist parts that sometimes take over and lead us to feel and act in ways that hold us back.
Parts Work is the process of:
- Getting to know your Parts
- Learning to access your Self Energy
- Using Self Energy to meet the needs of your Parts in a compassionate way that helps you live out your life’s purpose
While engaging in Parts Work can be life changing for anyone, I think it has SO much promise for highly sensitive people and addressing some of the unique needs that many of us are working hard to meet. Here are 7 ways in which I have found Parts Work to be beneficial for highly sensitive people.
7 BENEFITS OF PARTS WORK FOR HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE
#1 Greater Self Awareness And Clarity
Many highly sensitive people have a lot going on internally. Our nervous systems are easily triggered into action, so we are constantly wading through a variety of emotions, many of them hitting us with more intense force than we would like. Our brains are adept at scanning for subtleties and processing information deeply, so our minds are constantly busy mulling things over, thinking things through, and carefully considering all potentialities. Chattering. And as if our own crap wasn’t enough to deal with, we also have a high capacity for empathy. So not only do we carry our own baggage through life, we are also dragging along everyone else’s emotions.
All of this can get to be quite overwhelming and confusing. Many highly sensitive people struggle with:
- Just feeling like their emotions are TOO. MUCH.
- Trying to stuff or ignore emotions altogether.
- Being unable to process it all and thus feeling conflicted about what they actually want and need.
Self awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your own thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions and how they are all connected to each other. And Parts Work is a tool that can give you exactly that. Parts Work can help you make sense of your thoughts and emotions and their underlying beliefs. It can help you recognize the conflicting motives of your various Parts and get clarity about what you actually want and need.
#2 Bridging The Gap Between The Thinking And Emotional Brains
Have you ever had the experience of feeling totally calm and collected one moment and then something triggers you and it’s like you become a different person? Calm-And-Collected-You has one set of thoughts and beliefs but the Triggered-You holds a very different version of what’s true?
Or what about the experience where you are feeling agitated and you tell yourself that there’s nothing to worry about and you should just calm down, but then nothing happens? You just keep on feeling agitated? It’s like the Calm-And-Collected-You knows that nothing is wrong, but the Agitated-You can’t hear what the Calm-And-Collected-You is saying.
In Parts Work lingo, the Calm-And-Collected-You is your Self whereas the Triggered/Agitated-You is one of your Parts taking over. In physiological terms, the Calm-And-Collected-You is driven by the more logical, thinking parts of your brain, whereas the Triggered-You is driven by the deeper, more instinctive, emotional parts of your brain.
Parts Work can help you bridge the thinking and emotional brains and establish a line of communication that goes both ways. Through Parts Work, you gain easier access to the Calm-And-Collected-You and the Calm-And-Collected-You learns to communicate in ways that the Triggered-You can actually understand. At the same time, the Calm-And-Collected-You learns to listen to the concerns of the Triggered-You instead of just trying to stuff the emotions (which pretty much never works anyway.)
#3 Having A Way To Self Soothe
Speaking of being triggered and agitated… Whenever our nervous systems are activated, there are a few different ways to potentially help yourself calm down. One of these ways is emotional co-regulation. Being with someone who your brain perceives as safe and whose nervous system is in a calm state can help calm down your own nervous system. This is great, but sometimes safe others aren’t available and sometimes HSPs have traumatized brains that aren’t ready to trust most other people.
With Parts Work, however, it’s possible to co-regulate internally so that you can self soothe. If you learn to access your Self and share calm and compassionate Self energy with your agitated parts, you can give your nervous system the experience of co-regulating without involving other people.
#4 Learning Self Compassion
Learning to share calm and compassionate Self energy with your parts is no small matter, because SO many highly sensitive people have very low self esteem. We have slightly different needs from the majority of people, and when our needs aren’t met, we struggle. When HSPs haven’t been taught about high sensitivity and when they don’t understand why they are struggling, the default is to blame yourself. If only you weren’t so sensitive, if only you would grow thicker skin, if only you would try harder…
Too many highly sensitive people are way too familiar with this flavor of voices. But Parts Work is a way to change your internal conversation toward much more self understanding and self compassion. Parts Work allows you to give yourself the love and care and validation you’ve been seeking from other people.
#5 Growing More Confident In Their Own Inner Voice
Highly sensitive people are like sponges for the perceptions, opinions, and judgments of family, friends, and society at large. We use our empathy and our heightened ability for sensing the subtle to read other people’s minds. This cacophony of other people’s voices can get to be so loud and pervasive that we lose touch with our own inner voice.
Parts Work helps you shush the external noise and make space for hearing yourself. Via Parts Work, you can learn to turn inward, to your own intuition and wisdom for whatever answers you are seeking.
#6 Recognizing Parts In Other People
When you learn to recognize your own Parts, you also start recognizing Parts in others. This is another way in which Parts Work makes it easier for highly sensitive people to deal with the external noise and grow more confident in their own truth. It becomes easier to recognize other people’s struggles and meet them with compassion. It becomes easier to recognize when other people are speaking from their fearful or doubtful or closed-off parts and to not let their words topple you over.
#7 Having A Process for Dealing With Fears And Doubts That Hold Us Back From Realizing Our Creative And Career Dreams
While our Parts always have good intentions, they are sometimes so protective that they hold us back from going after and realizing our creative and career dreams. Our Parts can be so worried about us being disappointed, failing, upsetting other people, and not being perfect that they’d rather have us stay put and not even try.
But when your Self is bursting at the seams to try something new, Parts Work offers a process for addressing and soothing these worried Parts so that you can get unstuck and work on making your dreams come true.
IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE PARTS WORK FOR YOURSELF…
There are a few different ways to learn how to do Parts Work.
- If you want a diagnosis and treatment for a mental health condition, you can seek out an IFS therapist.
- If you simply want to increase self awareness and learn how to process your emotions and would like someone to guide you, you can work with a Coach who is familiar with this approach (like me! 🙂).
- If you want to learn how to do Parts Work on your own, I recommend Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness and Healing Your Inner Child Using IFS, A New, Cutting-Edge Psychotherapy by Jay Early.