Making Sense of the Sides of Yourself: Intro to Parts
How’d your week play out, friends? 🌱
Over the past few days, I was struck by an unexpected surge of anger and frustration. You might have caught a glimpse of it on LinkedIn on posts like this:
In my coaching work, I come across tons of injustices that could be easily prevented.
And all it takes is doing the self-work to get more in tune with our inner selves, sort out any imbalances, and tackle situations from a productive (and kind) state.
Before we do harm to the people around us.
So, today I'm gonna let you in on a tool that helps the folks I work with be their best selves and live their best lives.
Which leads me to this week's topic...
How can I strike a balance between all the different sides of myself?
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And now, onto today’s newsie…
Allow me to introduce you to The Fighter.
This spirited, preschool version of me gave my parents a hard time back in the day. Tantrums at the grocery store, at home, and basically anywhere else you can think of.
The Fighter was the all-encompassing identity my family assigned to me as I grew up.
The strange part?
The Fighter had the spotlight during most of my childhood but suddenly took a backseat around the age of 10. By the time I moved to Nicaragua at 12, The Fighter was barely noticeable, tucked away in the recesses of my mind.
Imagine how inappropriate it would be if The Fighter made an appearance during coaching sessions?
I’d be out of a job.
The different sides of us
Do you recognize some of The Fighter in yourself? Or another side of you — maybe a side that likes to learn or that loves to procrastinate?
We all have different sides to us. They can sometimes feel like multiple voices inside your head, each with its own desires, fears, and motivations.
If that sounds like you, you're not alone.
This happens to every single one of us — and it's explained by Inner Family Systems (IFS).
IFS thinks of us a collection of all the sides of ourselves or "parts" — like The Fighter, or the inner child, the critic, or the protector. All these parts work together inside us, each with a positive intent in mind.
It helps us figure out and handle all of our sides and the inner system within which they operate.
The result? More inner harmony and balance.
Let’s explore it firsthand:
Grab a piece of paper and pen.
On the paper, draw a circle and divide the circle into 4 sections.
Take a deep breath and scan inside yourself for different sides you can identify.
Label them inside the sections. For example:
It’s very likely you’ll find more than 4 sides to yourself, so feel free to make room for more in your circle.
The Fighter might've shown up early in my life, but other sides popped up over time.
And guess what? I have many others.
Credit to Steve Schlafman who shared this on Twitter a while back
Whenever I encounter a challenge, I pause to connect with myself and often find additional parts emerging from the shadows.
Now that you've identified some of your parts, what's the next step?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Striking a balance and finding harmony
Every side of us actually means well, even if they cause us to act out or do things we regret.
The Critic part might come off as harsh, but it's just trying to keep us from messing up or getting hurt.
The Protector part might seem bossy, but it's trying to keep us safe.
The Witty Sarcastic may come off as pompous, but it’s actually trying to get people to like us through intelligence.
Digging deep to uncover the good intentions of each part can be tough, but it helps us be kinder to ourselves and others while ditching shame and guilt.
The whole point is to make all parts of our inner squad play nice together, so we can get to know, understand, and handle each part in a healthy way.
To wrangle the team, a leader must emerge: your True Self.
And I love this part:
While each human is unique, everyone’s True Self shares a few common characteristics: compassion, curiosity, and calm.
By channeling these qualities, your True Self guides your parts like a champ.
Now, let’s take the work you did with your circle of parts further:
Spend time getting to know every unique side of yourself.
Ask yourself: what does this part bring to the table, what do I gain from it?
When you get the positive intent behind them, show love and appreciation for the role each one plays.
Tap into your True Self to lead the pack with compassion and curiosity.
Keep practicing on repeat, to strike that balance and find harmony within.
it takes time to meet all your parts, and you'll always be discovering new ones.
As long as you welcome each part, get to know it, and thank it for its contribution, it'll naturally ease into a more helpful role.
Right part, right situation
Getting to know the different sides to yourself can help you understand and manage your internal system of parts.
The trick? Bring the right side of you to the right situations.
Just like The Fighter can’t show up to coaching session, the Witty Sarcastic probably shouldn’t show up at my kids’ bedtime. The Nurturer is a way better fit.
Here are more examples:
Instead of bringing The Inner Critic to a feedback session with a teammate, you might bring The Guide.
Instead of bringing The Manager home to greet your kids after work, you might bring The Jokester.
Instead of bringing The Self-Doubter to an important meeting, you might bring The Leader.
Instead of bringing The Cheerleader to a conversation with a friend that’s hurting, you might bring The Comforter.
That's where the whole "fake it 'til you make it" thing comes from. When you're trying to fake it, you're stepping into a situation as a side of you that might not usually show up there on its own.
As you grow more aware of the positive intentions behind each part and build connections with them, you'll be able to bring out the most suitable side of yourself in every situation.
And when the most appropriate part of yourself emerges at the right time, you do less harm to yourself and to others.
So, will you spend some time getting to know the various sides of yourself?
By being more aware of the good intentions behind each part and building a connection with them, you'll be able to bring out the best version of yourself for every situation.
All that self-awareness leads to better emotional balance and personal growth.
The cherry on top? You'll show up as your True Self more often.
Do you know what your True Self looks like?
This week, set aside time to explore the various sides of yourself, understand their positive intentions, and discover how your True Self can guide them towards greater harmony and balance.
You got this. ✌️
All the best vibes,
PS. Quick reminder that you can share the newsie to gain rewards: access to our book club, exclusive worksheets I use with my coaching partners, and ultimately free sessions with me, too.
Here’s how: 👇