The 6 F’s (Part 1): Using Focus to Unblend
and Get to Know Your Parts
Why Is It Important To Get To Know Your Parts?
It is really the only way through! If you are not able to get to know your Parts and develop relationships with them, it is almost impossible to get anything done and make progress on your journey to Self-transformation. Let’s take a real-life example: to work together with someone towards a common goal, you need a relationship with that person that has been cultivated with time, trust, communication and mutual understanding. Even if it is something as simple as a three-leg race. To get to the finish line with that person, you need to communicate, work together, trust each other and have a mutual understanding of where you are going.
As a professional, I have seen many people get tied up with how, when, where, or what to do when working with their Parts outside of a session. Working with your parts really is different than doing a regular journaling or meditation piece. It is about setting aside time to cultivate relationships with your Parts that have come forward to your Self. This can be achieved with intentionality and a little bit of help.
The 6 F’s (1) is a handy IFS technique that can guide you when getting to know any Part. They are:
- Focus – What do you notice when you focus inside on this Part?
- Find – Where do you feel this Part in your body?
- Feel – How do you feel towards this Part?
- BeFriend – Extend qualities of curiosity, compassion, connection, etc. to that Part.
- Find Out – Get to know more details about the Part’s role, how it’s trying to help, etc.
- Fears – What is the Part afraid would happen if it didn’t do its extreme role?
How To Use The 6 F’s: A Self-led Exercise
Over the next several blog posts, I will walk you through how I work with a Part of mine that holds anger in its extreme version in between sessions with my therapist.
For today’s post, let’s focus on focus (pun intended!).
Focus (Focus inside on a specific Part)
As you bring your awareness to this Part of you, what are you noticing? Be mindful that parts can express themselves in images, body sensations, emotions, thoughts, and so on.
When focusing on a part, I find it helpful to write down what I am noticing. For example, if I have a Part that I know holds anger, as I close my eyes, I will have a piece of paper to write down what I am observing about that Part. One day, when I check in with that Part, it might show me that it is super big and running around the room. Another day, it might show me that it makes my shoulders and fists tense up. Also, I typically get a piece of paper for each of my Parts and start to make a “bio card” of them. That way, I start to develop relationships with them because I can start to get a feel for their individual subpersonalities. Remember that Parts may show up with many different genres of expression or only one. Your Parts can all be images, no images, all body sensations, mixture of both, just a felt sense, etc.
You might notice that focusing on your Parts is easier or harder when you are triggered by an event. When I am triggered by something, I will note it in my mind, and then, when I set aside time to check in with my system, I will bring my awareness back to the anger and see what I am observing at this point. Typically, it is not that hard to focus on the Part if I have been recently triggered. However, sometimes focusing on it later on feels like something is blocking it. It’s very individual, so you will have to see what works for you: focusing on it when it is up and triggered or doing something later when you are not so triggered by it.
An important note: when we are focusing on the Part we are not the Part! (Wouldn’t it be physics, or philosophy that would say “You can’t fundamentally focus on something that you are”?). In order to focus on the Part, or another way to think of it is to observe it, you have to be partially or fully separate from it. For example, I cannot observe the pen in my hand if I am the pen in my hand. But because I am not the pen in my hand, I can observe the pen in my hand. In the land of IFS therapy, we call this“being with, without becoming”.
“Ok, that’s nice, but how do I do that”, you might say. That’s a topic for an entire book or blog series! A LOT of what we work on in session is helping our Parts to separate out from us, so that we can be with them.
Here are three quick strategies that can help you separate out from the Part:
- Ask the Part (in this case, the anger) if it is willing to give you some space. For example, I am a very visual and somatic person, and oftentimes I will ask my Parts if they can give me space in my body by sitting somewhere else in the room, or feeling them being somewhere else in the room. To be honest, this works about 40% of the time for me. Often, they are not that willing to give space in the beginning.
- I remind the Parts that it really is in their best interest and mine if they can give me some space. Remember, at their core, Parts are really wanting to help. Even the tricky ones like anger, inner criticism, substance use, self-harm, etc. That will get the next about 30% of the Parts to give space. So then we have 70% of the Parts responding in my system to those two strategies.
- Finally, if all that doesn’t work, I get out the old sticky notes, write down their names and place them around the room, so they have a different space to hang. For example, if anger just won’t give me space after asking and reminding it that it is in their best interest and mine that they give me space, I pull out the sticky notes, put anger on one and place it somewhere in the room. This generally will get me about 90% or so of the way there. In the IFS world, we call this process externalization. It is one of my favorite places to hang out exploring different ways we can help our Parts separate from us.
Take-homes from Focus:
- Observe what you are noticing as you focus on your Part/Parts and jot it down. Remember, Parts communicate in any/all formats including images, body sensations, colors, beliefs, felt sense, etc.
- Focus when you are triggered or not, or both.
- Fundamentally, in order to focus, you need to be partially, even if minimally, unblended or separate from that Part. If you need to get some space, ask, remind and then externalize.
As you work with your Parts in between sessions, focusing is oftentimes the first place to go when cultivating relationships.
This is the first post of a series about the useful 6 F’s technique that can help you get to know your Parts. Stay tuned for the next one!
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Sending you love and light on your journey of Self-led Self-transformation.
- © 2006 The Center for Self-Leadership. Level 1 Training Manual, Session 2: Working with the Protective System